- - Sunday, January 12, 2020

Pity poor Cory Booker. The Democratic senator from New Jersey and also-ran presidential candidate has palpably craved the presidency for some two decades. And he did all the right things: First, he attended Stanford University and won a Rhodes Scholarship to study at Oxford. Next came the obligatory law degree from Yale Law School. And then he embarked on a frankly thankless job, serving as mayor of hardscrabble Newark, New Jersey for two terms.

Before long, Mr. Booker was in the U.S. Senate representing New Jersey — the first African-American to represent the Garden State in the upper chamber of Congress. Blessed with charisma, good looks, obvious intelligence and ambition, Cory Booker seemed well on his way to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. He has been campaigning for nearly a year in crucial early primary states like Iowa and New Hampshire.

Yet, the world isn’t fair, and certainly hasn’t been to Cory Booker, eminently qualified as he is, at least on paper, for the highest office. And instead, he has been surpassed in polls by a bunch of upstarts — Mayor Pete Buttigieg, the boy mayor of an obscure Indiana town; Michael Bloomberg, the former mayor of New York who is barely a Democrat; Vermont Sen. Bernard Sanders, who isn’t — and his campaign is flailing. Mr. Booker did not even make the cut to appear in the last Democratic debate, and he has yet to qualify for the next one, either.

Cory Booker has run a campaign centered on “love” in a political era with little time for it. Most of the Democratic candidates vie to see who can denounce President Donald J. Trump in more florid terms. For former Vice President Joe Biden, Mr. Trump is destroying the soul of America. For Mr. Sanders, he is a racist. Mr. Trump hits right back, accusing the Democrats of embracing socialism, crime and even terrorism.

Mr. Booker, on the other hand, says he “loves” Donald Trump — not his policies, or his personality. He just says he won’t be drawn into the hateful morass that constitutes American politics in the year 2020.

Love manifestly isn’t selling, alas, and perhaps Mr. Booker’s greatest humiliation came Thursday. “Billionaire liberal activist Tom Steyer has qualified for next week’s Democratic presidential debate, hitting the polling threshold just ahead of the Friday deadline,” this newspaper reported on Jan. 9. “Mr. Steyer made it to the debate stage by capturing 12% of the vote and tying for third place in a Fox News poll in Nevada, which was released Thursday. In another new poll from Fox News, he garnered 15% of the vote and a second-place finish in South Carolina.”

Who, exactly, is Tom Steyer? Basically, he’s a rich guy running a vanity campaign who bought a bunch of ads to promote his ludicrous run for the presidency. Before that he bought a bunch of ads promoting the impeachment of Donald Trump. A hedge fund manager and private equity titan devoid of charm, charisma, original ideas or a rationale for running for president besides, hey, it might be fun to be president, Mr. Steyer has carpet-bombed the presidential campaign with lucre. Apparently, he has stunned enough voters into submission to rank highly enough on polls to keep his campaign going. In the final insult to the New Jersey senator, he’s now well outpolling Cory Booker.

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