Sen. Cory Booker, the New Jersey Democrat who’s been one of the loudest voices in opposition of Brett Kavanaugh’s confirmation to the Supreme Court, is coming under additional scrutiny after the re-emergence of a 1992 column in a college newspaper in which he admits groping a female classmate in high school without her consent.
“The senator, who urged the Senate Judiciary Committee to first let the FBI conduct an investigation after California professor Christine Blasey Ford accused the high court nominee of sexual assault over 35 years ago, once wrote an article detailing an instance where he groped a female friend,” Fox News reported.
The piece appeared in the Stanford Daily back in 1992, meant to describe his transformation from a teen who was “trotting around the bases and stealing second” to a young man described by his classmates as a “man-hater.”
However, the picture it presents of a young Booker isn’t exactly an agreeable one.
“New Year’s Eve 1984 I will never forget. I was 15. As the ball dropped, I leaned over to hug a friend and she met me instead with an overwhelming kiss. As we fumbled upon the bed, I remember debating my next ‘move’ as if it were a chess game,” he wrote in the student-run newspaper.
“With the ‘Top Gun’ slogan ringing in my head, I slowly reached for her breast. After having my hand pushed away once, I reached my ‘mark,’” Booker wrote.
While he didn’t explain what “mark” meant, I think we can all be fairly certain what, precisely, he was talking about. In other words, after being told no, he tried again.
“Our groping ended soon and while no ‘relationship’ ensued, a friendship did. You see, the next week in school she told me that she was drunk that night and didn’t really know what she was doing,” he continued.
He said he had written a piece he hoped would act as an explication of his conduct as a teenager as well as his efforts to extirpate that sort of behavior.
“In retrospect, my soliloquy titled ‘The Oppressive Nature of Male Dominated Society and Its Violent Manifestations Rape, Anorexia, Battered Wives’ may have been a surreptitious attempt to convince her that I was a sensitive man, but more likely I was trying to convince myself that my attitudes had changed,” he wrote.
When he wrote a piece about date rape months later, however, he found himself examining his behavior again.
“But by my second column, as I raised my noble pen to address the issue of date rape, I realized that the person holding it wasn’t so noble after all,” he wrote.
“With this issue as with so many others, a dash of sincere introspection has revealed to me a dangerous gap — a gap between my beliefs and my actions.”
A spokesman for Booker was, somewhat unsurprisingly, less than conciliatory when it came to his behavior.
“This disingenuous right-wing attack, which has circulated online and in partisan outlets for the past five years, rings hollow to anyone who reads the entirety of Senator Booker’s Stanford Daily column,” a Booker spokesperson said.
“The column is in fact a direct criticism of a culture that encourages young men to take advantage of women — written at a time when so candidly discussing these issues was rare — and speaks to the impact Senator Booker’s experience working to help rape and sexual assault survivors as a college peer counselor had on him.”
But the point is that Booker admits taking part in that culture, if we’re to believe his account. (For whatever it might be worth, “Top Gun” came out in 1986 — two years after the incident Booker claims it played a part in. There’s also, as Paul Mulshine of the Newark Star-Ledger notes, Booker’s long and storied history of creating his superhero origin story out of whole cloth.) He was also in high school.
The one difference is that Brett Kavanaugh steadfastly denies this behavior. Sen. Booker thinks that trumpeting it makes him a better person. And yet, there’s no backlash from the Democrats. In fact, this won’t affect his 2020 presidential chances at all, most likely. For them to be calling for a delay over the Kavanaugh accusation, given the particulars of the case, is the height of hypocrisy.
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