It is no secret that Cory BookerCory BookerCNN legal analyst knocks GOP senator over remark on Biden nominee Barnes rakes in almost 0K after Johnson enters Wisconsin Senate race Hillicon Valley: Amazon's Alabama union fight — take two MORE (D-N.J.) and Kamala HarrisKamala HarrisMadame Tussauds unveils new Biden and Harris figures Democrats ponder Plan B strategy to circumvent voting rights filibuster Watch: Lawmakers, activists, family members call for voting rights legislation on MLK day MORE (D-Calif.) viewed the bright lights and rolling cameras at the Supreme Court confirmation hearings of Brett Kavanaugh as the perfect stage to launch their 2020 presidential campaigns. It is time to evaluate their performances.
We can start with Cory “Spartacus” Booker, who has been known to play the hero at the most opportune times and who once befriended a drug dealing imaginary friend named “T-Bone.” Booker came to the hearings prepared and well rehearsed. But his grand debut was quickly eclipsed by the publication of the now infamous New York Times anonymous opinion and an eyebrow raising exchange between Kavanaugh and Harris.
Booker subsequently attempted to redeem himself. This led to a bizarre series of events culminating in his desperate insistence that his wild stunt did in fact violate Senate rules. In his first question and answer session with Kavanaugh, Booker stated that documents classified as “committee confidential” contained damaging details about the position Kavanaugh had taken in the past on racial profiling and other issues.
Looking for a way to distinguish himself on the second day, Booker resorted to publicly releasing these allegedly secret documents, with a theatrical flourish about how he was risking his Senate seat by supposedly violating Senate rules. The only problem? His self proclaimed “I am Spartacus” moment was predicated on a lie because Republicans had already cleared those documents in question for release.
In another blow, the documents revealed that Kavanaugh was actually opposed to racial profiling. But Booker refuses to let his big moment go. Once it was revealed that he did not in fact break Senate rules, Booker scrambled to actually break them by releasing some documents that had not yet been cleared. He then went on a publicity tour to insist that he had really broken the rules. Like George Costanza, Booker was being a “bad boy.” A New Jersey outlet summed up his political escapades as “strange.”
Fellow 2020 contender Kamala Harris was less theatrical in her presentation, but her attempts to steal the limelight involved the same brand of fiction. Her line of questioning alleged, with zero evidence, that Kavanaugh had a conversation about the special counsel investigation with a lawyer tied to President TrumpDonald TrumpTrump lawyers to Supreme Court: Jan. 6 committee 'will not be harmed by delay' Two House Democrats announce they won't seek reelection DiCaprio on climate change: 'Vote for people that are sane' MORE, immediately grabbing headlines, as observers wondered, what information does she have?
But the gambit proved be a fraud the very next day when she failed to produce any evidence that Kavanaugh had spoken to anyone at the Trump connected law firm about the probe. Her hometown newspaper, the San Francisco Chronicle, panned her hearing performance by writing that her “viral grilling of Kavanaugh ends with a thud,” while a CNN commentator characterized her original questions as “unfair” and “puzzling.”
Like Booker, Harris was forced to come up with another play to rile up the base, and it too has ended in embarrassment. Trying to stoke liberal women groups, Harris took a clip of Kavanaugh describing the position of a plaintiff on birth control and deceptively edited it to make it sound as though the judge himself held those views. For her stunt, the Washington Post unceremoniously awarded Harris with Four Pinocchios.
Booker used the days following the hearings to announce that he was traveling to Iowa to speak at a Democratic Party dinner in the first caucus state, where he also said he was hiring staff. Harris did much of the same standing by her clear distortion of the comments by Kavanaugh. For them, the ends justify the means on the road to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.
Their behavior reveals something important about their prospective candidacies. The fact that they both worked so hard to create a crowning viral moment for the online left, and then scrambled for damage control, demonstrates a fundamental weakness in the Democratic Party. These top 2020 candidates were forced to use the first big moment of their careers trying to one up each other with increasingly wild antics in hopes of fundraising and excitement among their liberal base, which is suffering from a devastating case of Trump derangement syndrome.
Instead of setting a solid foundation on which to introduce themselves to mainstream Americans, they appear to be running to win an online straw poll for MoveOn.org. Mired in their political interests and an existential need to “get to the left” for 2020, Booker and Harris are setting a narrative that is fundamentally out of step with most voters. If this was the opening shot for the Democratic Party at 2020, count me unimpressed.
Alexandra Wilkes is the executive director of America Rising.