For the past few years I'd heard the name, Cory Booker, but being based in LA I wasn't exposed to very much coverage of the man. What I had heard about him, his mayoral position in New Jersey and the talk of his exceptional acts and feats of heroism sure made him sound like a refugee from a Horatio Alger novel.
The guy is either a real hero or he has the best public relations machinery in the world working for him. Here's a sampling of his "fabled" actions compiled by Time Magazine Online back in January of this year:
Cory Booker is the Chuck Norrisof U.S. mayors, and his list of real-life acts of heroism keeps growing. The latest feat of the 43-year-old Newark, N.J., mayor: rescuing a freezing pooch from the cold on Thursday after concerned locals tipped him off on Twitter.
Well, looks like the good mayor likes dogs, or at least he likes Twitter and isn't afraid to react to things he reads about current issues in his city.
Last April, when a neighbor’s home caught fire, Booker saved a woman from the blaze without hesitation.
When Hurricane Sandy struck this past fall, knocking out power for many New Jersey residents, Booker opened up his home to let folks hang out, watch DVDs and charge their devices. He even had lunch delivered.
During the winter blizzard of 2010:
When one man tweeted that his sister couldn’t make it through the snow to buy diapers, Booker showed up at her house with diapers. When locals were stuck in their cars (or, in one case, on a bus), Booker and his team helped dig them out the old-fashioned way: with shovels.
And in an effort to "walk a mile in my shoes,"
Booker took part in the SNAP (Supplemental Nutrition Assistance Program) challenge and vowed to spend $33 on food for a week.
Those efforts aside, Mayor Booker is now taking hits for not coming forward and taking credit for another story, circulated by his opponent for New Jersey senator. The "Macho Man" he's running against is perennial wackadoodle, Steve Lonegan and he's circulating thinly veiled accusations that Booker is gay. Gee, imagine that. The man who says that if you get cancer, that's your problem, not his. The man who said New Jersey should forgo federal aid after hurricane Sandy feels the mayor's sexuality, whatever it may be, should be a campaign issue? Giving an answer to this question would be easy. But that's not the route Booker's chosen. He's staying above the name-calling fray and taking the higher road. It doesn't matter. He's not running for the straight or gay senate. He's running for the US senate, and your sexual orientation has nothing to do with your qualifications.
According to Mayor Booker, on All In With Chris Hayes, (MSNBC)
“The question really should not be am I gay or straight," he responded. "The question should be, why the heck are you asking the question in the first place? It doesn’t make a whit of difference what kind of senator I’m going to be or not."
“We need to stop in America talking about anybody in a public realm, besides what is important–the content of their character, the quality of their ideas, the courage within their hearts to serve others. That’s what’s important,” Booker added.
By refusing to discuss it, Booker has shown he's a man of courage. Some will take his denial to address this as a confession. It may bite him a little, because there are bigots and ignorant people everywhere. But I laud the mayor for asking why it matters? Certainly he handled his sidestepping act with grace and charm and has done his best to keep non-issues out of the campaign. That's certainly what the people of New Jersey deserve and the rest of us need in our national senate chamber.