“Organic Connection”

There’s a lot of ridiculous stuff being said in the wake of the essentially ridiculous brouhaha over Corey Booker’s criticism of the president’s shots at Bain Capital. But BuzzFeed’s Zeke Miller offers a take on it that really does require some pushback. The problem, he suggests, is that Obama’s a will-o-the-wisp who came out of nowhere politically, and has no “organic connection” to “Democratic institutions” and those who represent them–you know, like Corey Booker and Harold Ford.

Lord-a-mighty, when it comes to being connected to regular Democrats, Barack Obama is Boss Tweed compared to Booker and Ford. Booker became mayor of Newark after years of fighting the regular Democratic organization of the city. Post-partisan commentary is totally second nature to him, which could be a problem for him if he decides to run for higher office. And he’s always worked hard to get along with corporate leaders, from both Wall Street and Silicon Valley. He is in very few respects a typical Democrat.

As for Harold Ford, I wonder what sort of “organic connection” to Democrats around the country he is supposed to represent? I’m not even sure where Harold lives any more; presumably he’s in New York, where he moved after losing a 2006 Senate race in his home state of Tennessee. His last big foray into politics was a poorly received feint in the direction of a 2010 Senate race in the Empire State. Yes, he was once chairman of the Democratic Leadership Council (where I used to work, though I had stopped being a spokesman or officer or even a full-time employee of the group by the time Ford arrived), but his chairmanship coincided with the organization’s decline and demise. His comments on private equity firms were not terribly surprising, since he pulls down seven figures as an executive at Merrill Lynch.

In any event, saying Booker’s or Ford’s dissents from Obama on Bain Capital illustrate a problem for Obama among Democrats is like saying Mitt Romney has a problem with Republicans because David Frum has issues with him for pandering to the Christian Right. Obama’s Bain-bashing is precisely what most “regular Democrats” enjoy hearing. Zeke Miller needs to find a different angle on the incident, or better yet, just drop it.

Ed Kilgore

Ed Kilgore, a Monthly contributing editor, is a columnist for the Daily Intelligencer, New York magazine’s politics blog, and the managing editor for the Democratic Strategist.