Thursday, May 24, 2012

Stick to Your Guns or Stand by Your Friends?

On Monday night, I was out with friends when my pal Outlaw told me about another person there who'd made some less than flattering comments about him. Here's the thing: Outlaw is my friend. This random guy running his mouth is not. So from there I went on to joke about the stranger, making assessments about his overall character and so forth. Then Outlaw laughed and said, "We can't really speculate on who he is based on this one comment he made about me. You're just saying all that stuff because you're my friend."

I replied, "Of course I am, duh! That's what friends do."

And I mean it. I believe that's what friends are for; to love you unconditionally and support you when you need it. When your friend gets cheated on and calls you, your job is to pick their side and provide comfort. Now, I'd be remiss not to acknowledge that pesky thing called accountability. When you're wrong, your friends should tell you and hold you accountable. But when you're in a fight --particularly physical ones--you expect your friends to jump in and sort out the details later. Right?

Well, it seems the mayor of Newark, New Jersey Cory Booker was in a bit of a quandary. In case you haven't heard of him, Mayor Booker is a progressive young mayor who enjoys immense popularity in his hometown and across the country. Many believe he has the potential to hold an even higher position; maybe even president! While he's managed to appease liberals and conservatives alike in his home city, he primarily moves rank and file with the President and has been an outspoken and helpful backer of the Obama administration. When the President voiced his support of same sex marriage, Cory Booker took his to Twitter feed (as he often does) to applaud and agree. One could say that Mayor Booker and President Obama are pretty chummy. 

Until Mr. Booker was interviewed on Meet the Press last week. Mayor Booker called the Obama campaign's attacks on Mitt Romney's private equity firm, Bain Capital, "ridiculous" and "nauseating". When I saw Mayor Booker's comments flicker across my timeline, I thought that I was surely misreading it. I mean, it's one thing for lil ol me to disagree with President Obama. (I do so pretty often actually). Meet the Press hasn't returned my calls even though I graciously volunteered to be on their show, I'm not the President's pal; I'm not an elected official; I'm not a leading voice in the Democratic party; and I don't have anything close to Cory Booker's 1,150,727 followers.

However, when Mayor Booker calls out the Obama campaign's tactics, it makes us wonder...was it the right thing to do? Should he have stuck to his guns and his morals that said, "The political discourse has gone too far, we've got to get above the nasty fighting and stay above the fray?" Or should he have stood by his friend and fellow statesman who's running in a tight race against a man that Mayor Booker surely doesn't want to win the presidency?

It's a tough call, and one we often have to make in our personal lives. Do you stand by your friend even when you disagree with her cheating on her kind yet gullible boyfriend? Or do you call her on it and threaten consequences if she doesn't shape up and act right?

In this case, I too have some critical feedback for the Obama campaign's tactics. The emails I'm getting from the Democratic National Committee often sound as divisive as a Fox News personality, and there's an ad out that compares Mitt Romney to a vampire for "sucking jobs away from a steel town." That type of rhetoric is polarizing and doesn't resonate with the charismatic picture of our president that draws voters together. Obama's campaign needs to take a couple chill pills. However, I believe that the mayor could have expressed his concerns to the campaign without necessarily sharing them with the world. I can't say for sure if Mayor Booker already tried to do this and had to resort to airing his concerns on Meet the Press, but think about it this way:

Drawing on the previous example, if your friend is cheating on her boyfriend, do you tell her to get right via Twitter or over a one-on-one brunch? Obviously, the right thing to do is the personal, less public option. Mayor Booker, I agree with what you said; I just question if the setting was right.

Welp. I don't know whether Mr. Newark regrets his word choice or comments, but I bet he never expected this would happen: Mitt Romney's campaign has a new star in their most recent attack ads; he's using the words of the one and only Honorable Mayor Cory Booker to attack the President.

Who. Woulda. Thunk? I guess we should be gearing up for a nasty ugly presidential election which is exactly what Booker was trying to avoid.

What do you all think? Where do you draw the line on sticking to your gut versus loyalty to your friends? Do you think there is always a way to choose both or find common ground? Let me know your thoughts.