Ed Driscoll

Cory Booker’s Imaginary Friend

“The Newark mayor invented a street character for dramatic effect,” Eliana Johnson of National Review Online writes about the Democrat candidate for the Senate:

Booker’s tales of his trials and travails on the streets of Newark, the city that twice elected him mayor, are familiar, and they have helped to breed an almost mythological aura around the Stanford, Oxford, and Yale graduate. He did, after all, rescue a woman from a burning building last year, sustaining burns in the process. But sources tell National Review Online that the central character in one of Booker’s oft-repeated stories — T-Bone, the drug pusher who the mayor has said threatened his life at one turn and sobbed on his shoulder the next — is a figment of his imagination, even though Booker has talked about him in highly emotional terms and in great detail.

The tale is one Booker admits he’s told “a million” times, according to the Newark Star Ledger. Ronald Rice Jr., a Newark city councilman and Booker ally who has known the mayor since 1998, says the T-Bone story was “a fixture” of Booker’s unsuccessful 2002 mayoral bid against corrupt Newark political boss Sharpe James, perhaps for its symbolic value. In Booker’s mind, according to the city councilman, “It’s not so much the details of the story” that matter, but the principle that “these things happen, they happen to real people, they happen in the city of Newark.” Rice, a Newark native, says he doesn’t know whether T-Bone exists. But, he explains, “if Cory had to tell a story or two and mix details up for Newark to get the funding for it, I see that as something that’s taking tragedy and doing something productive for it.”

The T-Bone tale never sat right with Rutgers University history professor Clement Price, a Booker supporter who tells National Review Online he found the mayor’s story offensive because it “pandered to a stereotype of inner-city black men.” T-Bone, Price says, “is a southern-inflected name. You would expect to run into something or somebody named T-Bone in Memphis, not Newark.”

Price considers himself a mentor and friend to Booker and says Booker conceded to him in 2008 that T-Bone was a “composite” of several people he’d met while living in Newark. The professor describes a “tough conversation” in which he told Booker “that I disapproved of his inventing such a person.” “If you’re going to create a composite of a man along High Street,” he says he asked Booker, “why don’t you make it W. E. B. DuBois?” From Booker, he says, “There was no pushback. He agreed that was a mistake.” Since then, references to T-Bone have been conspicuously absent from Booker’s speeches.

A composite character you say?

There was a brief media firestorm yesterday when Vanity Fair broke the news that Obama’s famous “New York girlfriend” was a fiction. She appears in his 1995 memoir, Dreams From My Father, described in some detail by her appearance, voice and mannerisms. But a new biography of Obama – with an excerpt published in Vanity Fair – “reveals” that she was actually an amalgam of several different women. Politico immediately ran with “Obama: ‘New York girlfriend’ was composite” and Drudge headlined with “Obama Admits Fabricating Girlfriend in a Memoir.” Coming hot on the heels of the news that the Pres once ate a dog, his weirdo factor seems to have hit the roof.

Did T-Bone have a magic hat?

The Kerry campaign has since said that the presidential candidate’s recollection was imprecise — that his runs into Cambodia came in the early months of 1969. A June 2003 article in The Washington Post quotes Kerry talking about a mildewy and faded-green camouflage hat he carries in his black attaché.

“My good-luck hat,” Kerry told the Post. “Given to me by a CIA guy as we went in for a special mission in Cambodia.”

Was Booker’s imaginary friend an imaginary Catholic?

Huey Pierce Long (1893-1935)

Before beginning his electoral campaign in southern Louisiana, Long was reminded by a colleague that a large number of the voters Catholics, he opened his first speech with the words: “When I was a boy, I would get up at six o’clock in the morning on Sunday, and I would hitch our old horse up to the buggy and I would take my Catholic grandparents to mass. I would bring them home, and at ten o’clock I would hitch the old horse up again, and I would take my Baptist grandparents to church.”

“Why, Huey,” remarked his colleague later “you’ve been holding out on us. I didn’t know you had any Catholic grandparents.’

“Don’t be a damn fool, replied Long. “We didn’t even have a horse.”

Was the imaginary T-Bone also an imaginary Anthony Weiner supporter?

Anthony Weiner is having such a hard time generating support for his limp campaign that he has resorted to paying a rent-a-crowd firm to provide “supporters” for his events, The Post has learned.

Some of the gung-ho Weiner crowds, including at the Aug. 11 Dominican Day Parade in Manhattan, were really actors who were paid $15 an hour by the California firm Crowds on Demand, according to a source with direct knowledge of the deal.

The source said surrogates for Weiner approached the Santa Monica-based company days after Indiana-native Sydney Leathers came forward to say that Weiner had continued his digital dalliances after resigning from Congress.

Was T-Bone an environmentalist blowing the lid off the Love Canal scandal while simultaneously inventing the Internet and inspiring the best-selling novel and motion picture, Love Story?

“I called for a congressional investigation and a hearing. I looked around the country for other sites like that. I found a little place in upstate New York called Love Canal. Had the first hearing on that issue,” Gore said.

“That was the one that started it all. … We made a huge difference and it was all because one high school student got involved.”

In August 1978, Gore did chair hearings on the matter by the House Commerce Subcommittee on Oversight and Investigations — two months after the Love Canal homes were evacuated and President Carter declared the neighborhood a disaster area.

Gore’s comments in New Hampshire rang of earlier exaggerations dropped along the campaign to his subsequent humiliation: that he invented the Internet and was the inspiration for the movie Love Story.

“He did not begin Love Canal,” Lois Gibbs, legendary leader of the Love Canal Home Owners Association, said Wednesday in an interview. “It was the governor banging on the federal government’s door that got Gore involved.”

On the other hand, I think we can safely say that Booker’s imaginary friend did not have imaginary sexual relations with that woman, Manti Te’o’s imaginary girlfriend:

Related: BuzzFeedBen furiously BenSmithing away, to pretend the story about Cory Booker’s imaginary friend is imaginary.