Nancy LeTourneau does every other weekend at Political Animal. I think she does the best job of replicating what Ed Kilgore does during the week. And if we can’t have Sam Knight on the weekends, I’d rather have LeTourneau than the other options (good as they are). But this weekend, she decided to tweak some progressive noses. First, she published, Fast Track Isn’t So Fast. That was basically just a press release from Obama claiming that we shouldn’t fear fast track authority because “they can shut off ‘fast track’ with 60 votes and amend the deal.” That’s a good one! The Republicans control the Senate, and contrary to progressives’ hopes, they don’t seem at all concerned about this “threat to sovereignty.” I guess Ted Cruz heard from the billionaire donors that he wasn’t going to get any money if he got in the way of this. So we do need to fear fast track authority.
Next up, LeTourneau wrote, Who Threatens Our Privacy? This one also comes off like a White House press release. We are supposed to be as outraged that Wikileaks released the Sony hacks as we are that Snowden revealed the kind of things that our government is up to. It seems to be apples and oranges. And more to the point, it doesn’t seem to be about making people more concerned about the Sony release but rather making people less concerned about the Snowden relations. And that’s just nonsense.
But by far, the most annoying thing she published was, A Study in Contrasts. It is a comparison of Elizabeth Warren and Cory Booker. And it is even intended as trolling, as she started the article, “I’m about to write something that will likely get me in hot water with a lot of my progressive friends.” That’s kind of standard New Democratic — or “centrist” — nonsense where the writer admits to knowing they are going to upset those rigid leftists by speaking The Truth™. But what follows is anything but.
She noted that on Warren’s economic legislation, there are no Republican co-sponsors. But on Booker’s criminal justice sentencing legislation, there are Republican co-sponsors. And… Nothing! That’s the extent of her contrast. So allow me to respond: she has got to be out of her mind! Does she really think that Booker has Republican co-sponsors because he is working in the shadows to form relationships with Republicans? Because that isn’t what’s going on. Booker is simply working in an area where Republicans are already working. So of course he has Republican co-sponsors.
Booker has always been a New Democrat. He’s a Wall Street guy. And LeTourneau was correct when she wrote, “Senator Booker became persona non grata when he criticized Democrats and the Obama campaign for going after Romney over his connections to Bain Capital just prior to the 2012 election.” But that isn’t because he could have hurt the Obama campaign. It was because he said something that went totally counter to what Democrats believe.
So Booker has his nice, safe Senate seat. And what he has chosen to work on is something that many Republicans are working on. So why didn’t the good people of New Jersey just elect one of those Republicans? Because they care about other issues. I have no doubt whatsoever about Warren backing Booker’s criminal justice reform legislation. It isn’t at all clear that he would vote for the kinds of economic policy that Warren is pushing — the kind of policy that Democratic voters are for.
The truth is that we need Democrats who push the existing Overton Window. And we need Democrats who can get things done. But there is nothing in what LeTourneau wrote to indicate that Booker can actually get things done. We will see. Getting Republicans to support ideas they’ve long supported means nothing. Meanwhile, Warren actually is changing the conversation. Check back with me after Booker gets one of those laws passed.