The New York Times is always selling its favorite Democrats, like this gooey introduction from Kate Zernike on Thursday’s front page: “Mayor Cory A. Booker of Newark easily won New Jersey’s special Senate election on Wednesday, finally rising to an office that measures up to his national profile.“
Who is it, precisely, who has built this expansive national profile? The politician, surely, but he’s had a lot of help from the national profile-builders of the major media. Zernike’s already measuring him for vice-president in 2016:
He will arrive in Washington already one of the country’s most prominent Democrats, and its best-known black politician other than President Obama, who backed him aggressively. Mr. Booker’s fund-raising prowess puts him on course to lead his party’s campaign efforts in the Senate, and he has been mentioned as a possible vice-presidential pick for 2016. ...
With a Twitter following six times as large as the city he has led, Mr. Booker was known outside Newark largely for his appearances on late-night television and his heroics: rescuing a neighbor from a burning building, shoveling out snowbound cars, living on a food stamp diet.
After the “heroics,” there was a perfunctory recitation of bumps in the road: “The campaign gave him less flattering national attention for his Twitter exchanges with a dancer in a vegan strip club, and renewed old questions about whether he embellished an oft-told story about a moving encounter with a drug dealer, who may or may not have existed (Mr. Booker called him “an archetype”).”
But the legend remained: “A graduate of Stanford and Yale Law School, and a former Rhodes scholar, he was a celebrity even before he became mayor — with an Oscar-nominated documentary about his first, failed race in 2002.” Democrats help make Democrats. It’s a very familiar narrative inside the New York Times.
Near the end of her story, Zernike said Booker now looks less like a Superman, although that wasn’t anything the Times had in mind:
Voters apparently found Mr. Lonegan too conservative; 60 percent told the Rutgers poll he was further to the right than most of the state.
Still, the campaign "made Booker more human, less Superman," said David Redlawsk, the director of the Rutgers poll, pointing to the drops in his favorability.
The question now for Mr. Booker is how he plays his celebrity in the Senate, a chamber where show horses tend to stumble.
Is that how they described Barack Obama in 2005?