More than once in recent months, I have pondered who would make the best democratic candidate for president in the 2020 contest. Elizabeth Warren? Probably a bit too controversial, but certainly qualified. John Lewis? Sadly, too old, for he would be nearly 81 years of age when he took the oath of office, though he would otherwise be my first choice. And then I keep coming back to Cory Booker. I have a project list, and Senator Booker’s name is on it, but I just hadn’t gotten to him yet. Today, something happened that raised him even higher in my esteem and I have bumped him up on the list.
At a hearing of the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday, Secretary of Homeland Security, Kirstjen Nielsen, claimed that she couldn’t remember what word Trump used to describe Haiti and African nations in an Oval Office meeting last week. Now, we all know that the word was ‘shithole’, as Trump even bragged about it … before he denied it, that is. And the bottom line is that it doesn’t matter the exact word, for the thought, the intent, remains the same. But for a person sitting in that meeting to come out and say they don’t remember … says a lot about the character, or lack thereof, of that person. Cory Booker has had enough. Cory Booker courageously gave a nearly nine-minute speech, a forceful and honest talk. Here are some excerpts …
“I sit here right now because when good white people in this country heard bigotry or hatred, they stood up. What went on in the White House, what went on in the Oval Office, is profoundly disturbing to me.
I’ve been in the Oval Office many times and when the commander in chief speaks, I listen. I don’t have amnesia on conversations in the Oval Office going back months and months and months.
Why am I seething with anger? We have this incredible nation where we’ve been taught it doesn’t matter where you’re from, it doesn’t matter your color, your race, your religion, it’s about the content of your character. It’s about your values and your ideas. And yet we have language that from Dick Durbin to Lindsay Graham — they seem to have a much better recollection of what went on. You’re under oath.”
At this point, you can see that Booker was fighting back tears …
“You and others in that room that suddenly cannot remember. It was Martin Luther King that said, ‘There’s nothing in this world that’s more dangerous than sincere ignorance and conscientious stupidity.’ And so, here we are in the United States of America. And we have a history that is beautiful and grand, and also ugly — where from this nation to others, we know what happens when people sit by and are bystanders and say nothing,
Our greatest heroes in this country, spoke out about people who have convenient amnesia or who are bystanders.
This idea that the commander in chief of this country could with broad brushes talk about certain nations and thus cast a shadow over the millions of American who are from those communities — and that you could even say in your testimony that Norwegians were [preferred] by him because they were ‘so hard working….
Your silence and amnesia are complicity. When Dick Durbin called me, I had tears of rage when I heard about his experience in that meeting, and for you not to feel that hurt and that pain and to dismiss some of the questions of my colleagues, saying, ‘I’ve already answered that line of questions,’ when tens of millions of Americans are hurting right now because they’re worried about what happened in the White House… that’s unacceptable to me.”
I would have stood up, had I been in that room, and given Mr. Cory Booker a standing ovation. Kirstjen Nielsen, meanwhile, sat looking smug and arrogant throughout Senator Booker’s impassioned speech. And for the record, claiming, under oath, not to remember something, when you do in fact remember is considered perjury.
I think you will find this video worth the 9 minutes of your time … I did.
On Monday we observed Martin Luther King Day, and I mentioned more than a few times in comments here on my blog, and in personal conversations that I wish we had someone like him today. Is it possible we may have just that person in Cory Booker?
For those of you unfamiliar with Mr. Booker, a few facts. Cory Booker will be 49 years old in April, and is a Senator from New Jersey who has been in office since 2013. Prior to that, he was the mayor of Newark, New Jersey, for seven years. He holds a B.A. in Political Science and an M.A. in Sociology, both from Stanford University, and earned a Rhodes Scholarship to Oxford University. After returning from Oxford, he earned a J.D. from Yale Law School. His ideology is considered to be fiscally conservative while socially progressive.
I will write more about Booker in coming weeks, but suffice it to say that I see him as a man who carries the courage of his convictions, who is well-spoken, intelligent, and has humanitarian values. No matter what comes next, his impromptu speech at the Senate Judiciary Committee yesterday will always stick in my mind. I applaud this man.
Note to Readers: Good People Doing Good Things will return next Wednesday. Apparently I am taking an unplanned break from “good” this week!