Cory Booker Is the New Ryan Gosling

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The Newark mayor rescued a neighbor from a burning building, enhancing his already-sterling reputation.

Updated, 2:45 p.m.

Or maybe he's the new Texts from Hillary, which was already your new bicycle. In any case, the Newark mayor's absurd reputation was further enhanced overnight when he -- no, really -- rushed into a burning building to rescue a neighbor.

This is the stuff memes are made of, folks, and the Internet hive-mind is obliging: Check out the selections from Super Cory Booker below. It's the political world's response to Ryan Gosling, the heartthrob actor who last week kept a woman from being hit by a car in Manhattan and on another occasion broke up a street fight. Look, Gosling's a good-looking guy, but so is Booker. And while almost everyone has helped keep a friend from dashing into traffic, running into a burning building? Not so much. And like Gosling, who declined to take credit for his heroics, Booker humbly said, "I didn't feel bravery, I felt terror."

But it's not like this is an isolated moment of action for hizzoner. As a politician, Booker has proven himself a master of both the substantive and the symbolic. On the one hand, he energetically responds to tweets from constituents. After heavy storms, he has shown up to shovel snow for residents (while talking trash to lazy teenagers) -- the sort of gesture that doesn't make a huge difference in clean-up but wins over hearts and minds. At the same time, he's been lauded for his work in Newark, which had sky-high murder and crime rates and an atrocious school system when he took over. Since becoming mayor in 2006, he's improved the schools and brought about remarkable decreases in crime.

By way of contrast, Vermont Gov. Peter Shumlin tried to apprehend four bears stealing from his birdfeeders and had to flee. It's safe to say the Garden State is showing the Green Mountain State up today. It's pretty clear that Cory Booker would have wrassled all four bears to the ground, then forced them to spit up the birdfeed.

This stuff is a lot of fun, but anything that boosts Booker's political star could have real implications on the national stage. Booker is the highest-profile Democrat in his state -- a young, energetic, black politician who has drawn comparisons to Barack Obama. The GOP standard-bearer in New Jersey is Gov. Chris Christie. The governor is also charismatic, but he doesn't exactly have the physique of a varsity Stanford football player (yes, Booker did that too), and it's a little tough to imagine him running full-force into flames. Despite a few recent dust-ups, the two men have maintained a cordial relationship -- no small feat for the pugilistic Christie -- but New Jersey is only so big, so the two rising stars are likely to face off eventually.

So, for the record: In the last week, Christie was spotted falling asleep at a Bruce Springsteen concert. Booker, in case you forgot, ran into a burning building. The ball's in your court, governor.

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Presented by

David A. Graham

David Graham is a senior associate editor at The Atlantic, where he oversees the Politics Channel. He previously reported for Newsweek, The Wall Street Journal, and The National.

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