The Magazine

Is Cory Booker Overrated?


Oct 14, 2013, Vol. 19, No. 06 • By SCOTT BEYER
Widget tooltip
Audio version Single Page Print Larger Text Smaller Text Alerts

This first view is supported by Booker’s early reputation as a budget hawk and reformer. But along with his tax increases, information that has surfaced during the Senate campaign  lends credence to the latter. Not only have his dramatic personal tales deflated under scrutiny, such as the one where he watched a gunshot victim die in his arms (police reports later confirmed the boy died in the hospital), or his oft-told encounters with a supposed Newark drug-dealer named “T-Bone” (Booker supposedly admitted to inventing the character). Ethical questions have also arisen.

Several weeks ago the New York Post reported that Booker received $689,000 in severance pay from his former law firm, only to steer millions in city contracts to them. Booker also appeared to have an odd relationship with tech startup Waywire. He had a multimillion-dollar stake in the ill-defined young company, which employed a family member of a campaign supporter. When this raised suspicion that the enterprise amounted to an indirect payment from tech donors, Booker quit the company and gave his shares to charity.

Of course none of this will likely keep Booker from Capitol Hill, given his lead over Lonegan in what remains a very Democratic state. But it does show how myth-making narratives about likable leaders, once believed by the press, can remain impervious to facts on the ground.

Scott Beyer is a freelance writer traveling the United States for a book on revitalizing major cities. He blogs at

Recent Blog Posts

The Weekly Standard Archives

Browse 20 Years of the Weekly Standard

Old covers