Cory Booker’s lame Iran posturing

The ambitious Democrat defies the White House again and backs a tougher sanctions bill. He says he’s trying to help

Topics: Sen. Cory Booker, Iran sanctions, Hillary Clinton, Iran, New Jersey, U.S. Senate, ,

Cory Booker’s lame Iran posturingCory Booker (Credit: Reuters/Eduardo Munoz)

(This post has been corrected.)

Maybe it’s unfair to single out freshman Sen. Cory Booker for cravenly supporting a bill that defies the Obama administration and toughens sanctions on Iran when, unbelievably, he’s only one of 59 co-sponsors, including 16 Democrats. But since Booker is politically shrewd as well as nakedly covetous of national attention, it’s inevitable that he’d come in for extra-special attention.

This New Republic piece immediately went viral on Twitter Tuesday morning, with Ploughshares president Joe Cirincione asking for a lot of us:

Of course Sen. Ted Cruz and other right-wing extremists are openly using a tougher sanctions bill to undermine the administration and accuse it of “surrendering” to Iran. Booker paints himself as trying to help the president. “I’m 4 additional sanctions if current negotiations fail 2 start or fail 2 work,” he Tweeted to an irate follower.

An unnamed Democratic Senate aide told the Huffington Post about the bill: “The goal isn’t to disrupt things, it’s to make Iran even more willing to make serious concessions by making them aware of what will happen if they don’t.”

After this post first went up, Booker’s press secretary Monique Waters sent me this statement: “The senator strongly supports the Obama administration’s efforts to negotiate limits on Iran’s nuclear ambitions. The goal of the proposed legislation is to give US negotiators leverage, to hold Iran accountable and to ensure that its leaders understand that if they fall short of their commitments, there will be consequences.”

But the president has made clear he doesn’t want such help, threatening to veto the bill should it pass.



This isn’t the first time that Booker has set himself up as somehow wiser than the president. You’ll recall that back in 2012, as an Obama surrogate, he nonetheless said that the campaign’s attacks on Mitt Romney’s Bain Capital career were “nauseating” and urged Democrats to “stop attacking private equity.” He was forced by campaign officials to backtrack with what looked like a hostage video. But he was widely – and correctly – seen as trying to curry favor with wussy Wall Street donors who had their feelings hurt by Obama calling them “fat cats” and questioning Romney’s Bain work, even after the president bailed them out.

This time Booker is thwarting not only the president but the will of the war-weary American public. He and other ambitious Democrats like New York’s Kirsten Gillibrand, and Colorado’s Michael Bennett (chair of the Democratic Senate Campaign Committee) who also, disappointingly, support the sanctions bill, might think their stance is smart in terms of both politics and fundraising, but politically, at least, they’re wrong.

Or at least I think they are. There hasn’t been much organizing against the sanctions bill, or much outrage among progressives, although a new coalition of groups including MoveOn, Credo, J Street and others sent a letter asking senators to oppose the bill Monday. It’s undeniable that New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s troubles are sucking the oxygen out of liberal punditry, online and on television. But the Christie story isn’t going away, and right now I’d say reporting on his administration’s many ethical conflicts is more valuable than opining. Antiwar progressives need to pay attention here.

According to Greg Sargent, 30 Democrats haven’t taken a position yet on the sanctions bill. They should have to. The New Republic takes it as a good sign that 2016 front-runner Hillary Clinton hasn’t supported it, suggesting she has learned her lesson from her disastrous 2002 vote authorizing the use of military force in Iraq, which helped Obama defeat her in the 2008 primary. Actually, I find Clinton’s silence odd. Given that she worked for the president, there’s absolutely no way she could come out and support a sanctions bill, so her silence means nothing. I’d like to see her speak out against her former Senate colleagues’ misguided foreign policy venture.

It’s disappointing that while Democrats seem to have gotten the New Year’s memo that economic populism is a winning message, they’re showing no such spine in defying the war lobby.

An earlier version of this post quoted the senior Democratic aide as a Booker aide, citing The New Republic. TNR has since clarified its attribution. I should have gone to the original story in the Huffington Post, where the aide is correctly identified. My apologies.

More Related Stories

Featured Slide Shows

  • Share on Twitter
  • Share on Facebook
  • 1 of 22
  • Close
  • Fullscreen
  • Thumbnails

    Once upon a time on the Bowery

    Talking Heads, 1977
    This was their first weekend as a foursome at CBGB’s, after adding Jerry Harrison, before they started recording the LP “Talking Heads: 77.”

    Once upon a time on the Bowery

    Patti Smith, Bowery 1976
    Patti lit up by the Bowery streetlights. I tapped her on the shoulder, asked if I could do a picture, took two shots and everyone went back to what they were doing. 1/4 second at f/5.6 no tripod.

    Once upon a time on the Bowery

    Blondie, 1977
    This was taken at the Punk Magazine Benefit show. According to Chris Stein (seated, on slide guitar), they were playing “Little Red Rooster.”

    Once upon a time on the Bowery

    No Wave Punks, Bowery Summer 1978
    They were sitting just like this when I walked out of CBGB's. Me: “Don’t move” They didn’t. L to R: Harold Paris, Kristian Hoffman, Diego Cortez, Anya Phillips, Lydia Lunch, James Chance, Jim Sclavunos, Bradley Field, Liz Seidman.

    Once upon a time on the Bowery

    Richard Hell + Bob Quine, 1978
    Richard Hell and the Voidoids, playing CBGB's in 1978, with Richard’s peerless guitar player Robert Quine. Sorely missed, Quine died in 2004.

    Once upon a time on the Bowery

    Bathroom, 1977
    This photograph of mine was used to create the “replica” CBGB's bathroom in the Punk Couture show last summer at the Metropolitan Museum of Art. So I got into the Met with a bathroom photo.

    Once upon a time on the Bowery

    Stiv Bators + Divine, 1978
    Stiv Bators, Divine and the Dead Boys at the Blitz Benefit show for injured Dead Boys drummer Johnny Blitz.

    Once upon a time on the Bowery

    Ramones, 1977
    “The kids are all hopped up and ready to go…” View from the unique "side stage" at CBGB's that you had to walk past to get to the basement bathrooms.

    Once upon a time on the Bowery

    Klaus Nomi, Christopher Parker, Jim Jarmusch – Bowery 1978
    Jarmusch was still in film school, Parker was starring in Jim’s first film "Permanent Vacation" and Klaus just appeared out of nowhere.

    Once upon a time on the Bowery

    Hilly Kristal, Bowery 1977
    When I used to show people this picture of owner Hilly Kristal, they would ask me “Why did you photograph that guy? He’s not a punk!” Now they know why. None of these pictures would have existed without Hilly Kristal.

    Once upon a time on the Bowery

    Dictators, Bowery 1976
    Handsome Dick Manitoba of the Dictators with his girlfriend Jody. I took this shot as a thank you for him returning the wallet I’d lost the night before at CBGB's. He doesn’t like that I tell people he returned it with everything in it.

    Once upon a time on the Bowery

    Alex Chilton, Bowery 1977
    We were on the median strip on the Bowery shooting what became a 45 single sleeve for Alex’s “Bangkok.” A drop of rain landed on the camera lens by accident. Definitely a lucky night!

    Once upon a time on the Bowery

    Bowery view, 1977
    The view from across the Bowery in the summer of 1977.

    Once upon a time on the Bowery

    Ramones, 1977 – never before printed
    I loved shooting The Ramones. They would play two sets a night, four nights a week at CBGB's, and I’d be there for all of them. This shot is notable for Johnny playing a Strat, rather than his usual Mosrite. Maybe he’d just broken a string. Love that hair.

    Once upon a time on the Bowery

    Richard Hell, Bowery 1977 – never before printed
    Richard exiting CBGB's with his guitar at 4am, about to step into a Bowery rainstorm. I’ve always printed the shots of him in the rain, but this one is a real standout to me now.

    Once upon a time on the Bowery

    Patti Smith + Ronnie Spector, 1979
    May 24th – Bob Dylan Birthday show – Patti “invited” everyone at that night’s Palladium show on 14th Street down to CBGB's to celebrate Bob Dylan’s birthday. Here, Patti and Ronnie are doing “Be My Baby.”

    Once upon a time on the Bowery

    Legs McNeil, 1977
    Legs, ready for his close-up, near the front door of CBGB's.

    Once upon a time on the Bowery

    Suicide, 1977
    Rev and Alan Vega – I thought Alan was going to hit me with that chain. This was the Punk Magazine Benefit show.

    Once upon a time on the Bowery

    Ian Hunter and Fans, outside bathroom
    I always think of “All the Young Dudes” when I look at this shot. These fans had caught Ian Hunter in the CBGB's basement outside the bathrooms, and I just stepped in to record the moment.

    Once upon a time on the Bowery

    Tommy Ramone, 1977
    Only at CBGB's could I have gotten this shot of Tommy Ramone seen through Johnny Ramones legs.

    Once upon a time on the Bowery

    Bowery 4am, 1977
    End of the night garbage run. Time to go home.

  • Recent Slide Shows

Comments

Loading Comments...