June 25, 2008


The Battle of Newark, Starring Cory Booker: The battle for America's soul isn't in Baghdad. It's right here at home, in a place forsaken long ago and ruled by depravity and despair. Then Cory Booker came to raise a city from the dead. (Scott Raab, Esquire)

"Before they came after me in 2002," he says, "they offered me every job imaginable. McGreevey" -- that'd be disgraced former New Jersey governor and self-described "gay American" Jim McGreevey, a Sharpe James ally -- "offered me Secretary of State, Secretary of Commerce, or Secretary of Labor. They said, 'The county bosses will give you the line for the Essex County Executive -- you'll be the first black county executive' -- all that kind of stuff."

His voice goes from matter-of-fact to plummy with passion in a heartbeat.

"These people don't understand what this is about. This is not about a position -- it's about a mission, and a city that should be so much further along than it is."

As the movie credits roll, Booker mounts the slope of theater carpet with a jock's whooshing stride -- six foot three, he's packing 250 or so pounds, " 'Twofitty,' as they say," Booker says, making him one of the world's bulkiest vegetarians -- and as he stops in the near-empty lobby, his green eyes are shining bright, his smile a mile wide.

"I'd gladly take a grenade," says Cory Booker, beaming, "if it meant saving Newark."

Goddamn hero.

The grenade thing? He means it. As a law student at Yale, Booker commuted from Newark to New Haven -- a three- or four-hour haul, depending on I-95 traffic -- and moved into Brick Towers, one of Newark's nastiest human warehouses. If it was a publicity stunt, as political enemies have claimed, it was bizarre unto insane: He moved to town two years before he ran for any office -- Booker won a Newark City Council seat in 1998, ousting a sixteen-year incumbent -- and he stayed for eight years, leaving only after the drug- and crime-infested place was condemned. Like Will Smith, Booker was the last human resident to go.

"There was a small point in my life in law school," he says, "right before I moved to Newark, when I didn't know what I wanted to do, and I felt so lost. I said, Well, where I want to be is Newark -- let me move to the worst street I can find and just be there, a young lawyer. Be there. For people."

Maverick ought to offer him one more prize.

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Posted by Orrin Judd at June 25, 2008 10:32 AM

Unfortunately, he's Obama's surrogate.

Posted by: ic at June 25, 2008 1:55 PM
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