Newark, N.J., Mayor Cory Booker ticked off Frank Lautenberg by announcing he was running for the Democrat's Senate seat even before the 89-year old announced any retirement plans. Lautenberg and his New Jersey Democratic allies have been criticizing Booker's record as mayor and questioning his readiness for higher office, both publicly and anonymously, ever since.
But rather than strike back on Twitter--Booker’s preferred format for communication with the world-at-large--he’s been taking a very Zen-like approach, tweeting ancient proverbs and quotes about kindness.
Last week, Lautenberg compared Booker to one of his disobedient children, whom he loves but needs a spanking. A couple of days later, Lautenberg criticized Booker’s job performance, telling National Journal that “he’s got a lot of work to do--a lot of work that should have been done and hasn’t been done.” Later that evening, Booker tweeted an ancient proverb on mudslinging. He didn't mention Lautenberg or his comments, but it prompted BuzzFeed’s Andrew Kaczynski to ponder whether it was a “passive-aggressive tweet toward Frank Lautenberg?”
“He who flings mud loses a lot of ground.” Ancient Proverb— Cory Booker (@CoryBooker) Jan. 25, 2013
On Thursday night, Lautenberg again slighted Booker during the New Jersey Chamber of Commerce annual dinner, saying: "I'm disappointed that Cory Booker couldn't be here tonight. I'd think spending time out of the city was one of his favorite activities." Later in the evening, someone tweeted at Booker that Lautenberg “likes to take cheap shots.” Booker responded by praising the senator:
He is a good man & deserves immense latitude & respect RT @bohratom I see Lautenberg likes to take cheap shots at U. I hope u clobber him— Cory Booker (@CoryBooker) Feb. 1, 2013
Eight minutes later, he followed it up with this Dalai Lama quote:
"Be kind whenever possible. It is always possible." The Dalai Lama— Cory Booker (@CoryBooker) Feb. 1, 2013
And less than an hour later, he tweeted his own “Bookerism” on how to respond to political criticism:
I find that every moment I react with anger is a moment lost where I could act with purpose— Cory Booker (@CoryBooker) Feb. 1, 2013
This election isn't until 2014, so there is still plenty of time for meditative-like responses. Booker would be well served to keep a book of proverbs handy, but he may need to get a little more aggressive if he continues to be on the receiving end of intraparty attacks.