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Booker

[ 49 ] April 13, 2012 |

Corey Robin on the Cory Booker superhero story:

The whole story speaks to a quintessentially American love of amateurism and cowboy theatrics, but it also speaks to our neoliberal age: like the superhero of comic-book lore, Booker is a stand-in, a compensation in this case for a public sector that doesn’t work. And the reason it doesn’t work—the reason we put more stock in the antics of a Batman Mayor than a well paid and well trained city employee—is that we’ve made it not work: through tax cuts, privatization, and outsourcing, policies that Booker himself often supports.

Comments (49)

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  1. Vance Maverick says:

    Somebody in my FB feed compared him to Putin and meant it as a compliment.

    [I will stipulate that Booker was brave, and that it's good the woman he rescued is alive.]

    • Craigo says:

      Our politics are fucked beyond any hope when risking your life to save a neighbor’s becomes grounds for criticism.

  2. Holden Pattern says:

    It reminds me of the story a while back about an independently wealthy school administrator who gave his salary to the teachers, and everyone was oohing and aahing, like it was some kind of solution to something.

    It’s nice, but not scalable — you can’t run a modern country on volunteerism, wingtard and schmibertarian dogma to the contrary.

  3. Corey says:

    I was wondering who’d be the first holier-than-thou, superior left winger to predictably shit all over Booker, a legitimately good guy who gave up quite a bit for a career in politics in a really bad city.

    Corey Robin, with Loomis on the assist, was always the most likely possibility.

  4. ChrisCicc says:

    Uh, no, sorry. As someone who actually works with that sector, I can tell you there is only one thing that has caused public sector employees to not work hard: unions that make it all but impossible to get fired.

    Nice try though, keep ‘em coming…

    • Marek says:

      As someone who represents public sector workers, you are full of shit. All it takes to fire a worker is for management to be less incompetent/venal than the worker. Shouldn’t be too high a bar.

      • thebewilderness says:

        They never stop with the stupid. Private sector or public sector the main job of the union representatives is to make the effing management do their effing job.

      • mid says:

        When fired a unionized employee for performance issues it took me all of three additional memos over the course of several months. I was only required to document the continuing issues and adhere to the process agreed to in the contract. My only complaints were with how I have to handle layoffs.

  5. Joe says:

    You and Campos are such tools sometimes.

    I’ll tell the people, e.g., at Maddow Blog how they really don’t support public unions over Batman mayors, putting aside all those who do support public unions over him, just as he himself said those who do this everyday is who really matters.

    The story suggests that people like those who care, in this case someone who did something to help a neighbor. I hope I’d do the same. And, not have someone sneer that any kudos is really because they don’t believe in public unions.

  6. El donaldo says:

    I guess Robin has never heard of Stagger Lee.

  7. themgt says:

    I don’t understand how one can talk about “the whole story” without mentioning the woman who he pulled out of the building – as if optics is more important than human life

    What have you done today to help the world? Write this blog post?

  8. Scott Lemieux says:

    I agree with Corey’s broader point, but “theatrics” and “antics”? He did save the woman, after all.

    • elm says:

      Yes, sure, but how do we know he didn’t set the fire to begin with just so he good save the woman? Answer me that, will you.

      (Seriously, even if Booker had funded the fire department up the wazoo, do we think that it would have improved reaction time such that they got there before Booker, who lived next door? Once he saw the fire and knew someone was inside, what was he supposed to do? He did the brave–even heroic–thing, but we’re not supposed to applaud him because he’s not always as progressive as we would want? Really?)

      • Richard says:

        There seems to be no plausible argument that a well funded fire department would have arrived sooner than the mayor and no plausible argument that the mayor engaged in theatrics or antics. He saved a woman’s life. Can’t understand why someone would criticize the media for applauding him

        • Yeah, that seems very weird to me in this case. It certainly doesn’t seem to even be the case that the public sector “didn’t work,” so much as Booker lived next door and engaged in a legitimate act of personal bravery. While I agree with the broader Booker/Loomis point, in this instance it actually functions as an unfounded attack on the fire department, as best as I can tell.

          (As for the media attention the story has gotten, that’s pretty obviously a matter of it being a very unusual story involving a reasonably well known mayor).

  9. Barry Freed says:

    Wow, this really brought them out of the woodwork.

      • Chuchundra says:

        Write something moronic and people line up to call you a moron. Not something that anyone should find shocking.

      • elm says:

        Yeah, I know, it must be quite an honor to have posted something that would lead to such an infamous troll as Scott Lemieux to grace this blog. I mean, when’s the last time someone said something here that attracted his attention?

        Less snarkily, you seem to delight in posting things that the blog’s regular commenters react negatively to. In fact, you seem to take it as affirmation that you’re right. (The virgin forest debate being a recent example; the anecdote as evidence for global warming posts another one.) Do you have no respect for the readers of this blog, or something?

        • Erik Loomis says:

          In all truth, I am completely indifferent to whether anyone likes my posts or not.

          • elm says:

            Well, that’s better than relishing the chance to piss off your readers. Still doesn’t show much respect for the commenters here, though, if you don’t care about our opinions.

            • Joe says:

              I again miss Dr. Carpenter.

              But, since he (and probably Campos) don’t care, I say this to Scott: there wasn’t another labor writer out there who isn’t a tool?

          • joe from Lowell says:

            Erik Loomis says:
            April 14, 2012 at 1:45 am
            In all truth, I am completely indifferent to whether anyone likes my posts or not.

            Then why are you commenting at quarter of two in the morning, and why is every word you’ve written in the comments an expression of how you feel about the people who don’t like you post?

          • joe from Lowell says:

            In all truth, I am completely indifferent to whether anyone likes my posts or not.

            Two good indicators that someone is bullshitting you:

            1: They begin their statement with “truthfully,” or “to be honest,” or some variation.

            2: They use inappropriately powerful adjectives before the term they know to be false; eg, O.J. Simpson pleading “Absolutely, 100% not guilty.”

        • Barry Freed says:

          Are you serious elm? The “This Day in Labor History” posts are pure gold. And they’re well within the tradition of Battleship and Deposed Monarch blogging (maybe a bit less exciting depending on one’s interests granted, but certainly more important). His environmental posts are damn good too. So he posts something that people take issue with but that is not really a big deal and there’s all this sniping and whinging. I really don’t get it. Maybe I haven’t been reading the blog carefully enough but really, it’s not like he’s turned into McArdle or something. Cut him some slack.

          • Erik Loomis says:

            Appreciate it Barry.

          • elm says:

            Oh, I think Erik contributes a lot of good posts here, his labor posts in particular, and I didn’t mean to imply that he doesn’t. It’s just that he also will post stupid things and, it seemed to me, enjoy when regular readers called him on the stupidity. Now, he admits he doesn’t care if people like his posts are not. As I say, that doesn’t show much respect to the readers here, even if most of his posts are good.

            • elm says:

              And to clarify, it’s not the saying stupid things I object to. All writers will have an off-post or two and it’s also possible that I’m misunderstanding what is being said or am in the wrong myself.

              What bothers me is Erik’s attitude when he’s criticized. But he doesn’t care what I think, so why am bothering?

  10. wjts says:

    Batman Mayor? Frank Melton was the goddamn Batman Mayor.

  11. joe from Lowell says:

    Oh, FFS:

    Despite all that, Booker’s antics—and the starstruck response it has elicited from otherwise sane journalists and commentators—are actually more reminiscent of a very different kind of politician from a very different kind of time. As Slavoj Žižek wrote about the cult of personality around Stalin in Did Someone Say Totalitarianism?

    Thanks so much for thinking to this work of genius.

  12. [...] Robin explains Cory Booker. Via LGM. The whole story speaks to a quintessentially American love of amateurism and cowboy theatrics, but [...]

  13. grackle says:

    There is such a thing as picking one’s battles. Corey Robin seems determined to ensure his Ward Churchill-like marginalization. You could go there too, Erik, not that it would be wise. And the comparison to Stalin, really now.

  14. Mike Schilling says:

    Yeah, Stalin was known for risking his own life to save people.

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