Is being telegenic the only remaining qualification for high office?

August 12, 2013

Cory Booker is Newark, New Jersey’s, “rising star” mayor. He’s young, smart, personable, has a great online presence, and even rescues people from burning buildings.

Now he’s running for the federal Senate seat that came open when Frank Lautenberg died and, this being New Jersey, he’s almost certain to win. At The Corner, Jim Geraghty looks at Booker’s record in office and finds it awfully thin. And that’s being charitable:

Newark is pretty much the same economically-struggling city it was when he started; as the New York Times noticed, “his constituents do not need to be reminded that six years after the mayor came into office vowing to make Newark a “model of urban transformation,” their city remains an emblem of poverty… A growing number of Newarkers complain that he has proved to be a better marketer than mayor, who shines in the spotlight but shows little interest in the less-glamorous work of what it takes to run a city.”

Read the rest to see a list of Mayor Booker’s “accomplishments.”

So here we have another wildly hyped media-darling candidate who seems to be “all sizzle and no steak” seeking higher office based on… what? Being telegenic? Giving good sound bites? Being hyperactive on Twitter? Fixing the city’s budget and reducing crime seems so pedestrian by comparison.

Remind anyone of a certain president we all know?

To be honest, I find this “election by media mania” to be depressing. If you want higher office, you should prove yourself in lower ones, first, to show people what you can do. City council, state legislator, the mayor’s office — as long as you actually demonstrate competence, not just charisma. The Romans called it the “cursus honorum” — the course of honors. It was the path an ambitious Roman would follow from the lowest magistracies to the highest, putting in the needed time and gaining experience along the way.

Nowadays, you just need a web site and some starry-eyed fans.

(Crossposted at Sister Toldjah)

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