I ask him for his own assessment of his political weaknesses. He mulls it over.
"Sometimes I can be brash, and I can charge into things without thinking..." He smiles. "And I've had some incredibly good results! There's a quote from Lincoln: 'I've long since come to realise that a man with few vices has few virtues.' I think we have everything we need to be incredibly successful."
I can't help laughing at this burst of politico-speak. "Is that what you actually think?" I ask.
"Look," he says in self-justification, "when
I say 'we', I mean 'we', not 'I'."
"I'm not accusing you of arrogance," I tell him. "I'm accusing you of optimism."
When I speak to Booker's friend Eddie Glaude, he says that "prisoner of hope" is a phrase Booker often likes to use. I tell him that's all very well, but couldn't you have the hope without the prison? "No," Glaude explains. "To say that is to say that we have the existential armour to hold off despair and doubt. You know, WEB DuBois in his 1903 classic talked about the three temptations: the temptation of hate, of despair and of doubt. Doubt is the most insidious of them all - you begin to doubt your capacity. And so to be a prisoner of hope in some ways is to secure oneself as best as one can."