Don’t Try To Parse Chris Christie
Pundits on the left and the right are having a hard time understanding what Chris Christie's praise of the President is all about.
There seems to be a lot of confused pundits on the left and the right who are having a hard time trying to figure out Chris Christie’s effusive praise over the past 48 hours or so for the President of the United States and the Federal Emergency Management Agency. On the right, I’ve Christie accused of undercutting Mitt Romney, whom he has endorsed and campaigned for, with his praise of the President. For example, The Daily Caller’s Matt Lewis put it this way:
Coming on the heels of Christie’s tweet which said, “I don’t give a damn about Election Day after what has happened here,” Christie’s over-the-top embrace of Obama has many observers scratching their heads.
It’s important to put things in context. New Jersey was slammed with a deadly storm, and President Obama has — by all counts — executed his duties appropriately. New Jersey is obviously seeking federal assistance, and regardless, Christie should be gracious and respectful to the president.
The question is whether — with just days left before Election Day — Christie should have gone out of his way to lavish praise on Obama, and to provide him with a terrific photo-op for which to look presidential.
When Christie says he doesn’t “give a damn about Election Day,” that is also concerning — assuming he believes there are clear differences between the two candidates. While nobody should discount the seriousness of the storm — or Christie’s responsibility to his constituents — electing the leader of the free world has serious consequences, too.
Is Christie really saying that the plight of his state today outweighs the seriousness of electing a President of the United States of America for four years?
Why? Well, because Chris Christie was elected to be Governor of New Jersey and he now finds himself faced with the greatest natural disaster ever to hit the state, is it really all that unusual that this is going to be the focus of his attention at this point rather than a Presidential election that he has, quite honestly, only been tangentially involved in as a surrogate to begin with. Yea, it’s true that Christie was one of Romney’s biggest endorsement “gets” back in the primary season, but electing Mitt Romney to the Presidency isn’t Chris Christie’s job. His job is to govern the state of New Jersey, provide leadership in the face of a disaster that has destroyed not only buildings but also a way of life for countless numbers of people, and make sure that everything that needs to get done to get the state back on track and on the road to recovery. Given the scale of the disaster that means working closely with the Federal Government to coordinate relief and cleanup, which in and of itself is going to take a considerable amount of time.
Confusion about what Christie is “up to” also seems to reign on the left:
White House officials seemed a bit flummoxed by Christie’s bearhug. “It’s unnerving,” one laughed, noting how odd it is that a Romney big gun might help break the stubborn tie in the electorate in Obama’s favor.
They speculate that Christie, who always puts Christie first, has decided that it’s better for his presidential ambitions to be a maverick blue-state governor with a Democratic chief executive exiting in 2016 than to have President Romney and Tea-Party Republicans in Congress pulling him over to the extreme right for the next eight years. He also knows he’ll need a boatload of federal cash to make his state whole again.
Jeffrey Goldberg has his own theories about what is motivating Christie:
1) The first, most benign theory: Christie, in my experience, is a deeply emotional and highly sentimental man, and he is torn-up about the devastation along the Jersey Shore. The support he’s received from President Obama — the support he receives from anyone — at such a wrenching moment, makes him inordinately grateful. And President Obama has been extremely attentive.
2) To add to Maureen’s theory, Christie is an impatient guy, and the idea of running in 2016 is much more appealing to him than running in 2020. He will have faded from memory by 2020, in any case; plus Paul Ryan, who will have been vice president for four or eight years, would be a formidable challenger. For 2016, Christie is in the top-tier of Republican candidates. In 2020, who knows?
3) Chris Christie loves Bruce Springsteen. (This story, by yours truly, explains why.) Bruce Springsteen loves Barack Obama. Bruce Springsteen does not love Chris Christie. Being overtly supportive of Barack Obama might get Chris Christie his holy grail: The approval of Springsteen, even a meeting with him. Believe me — he’d rather meet with Springsteen than with Obama, or anyone else.
Lewis, meanwhile, speculates that here may be a rift between Romney and Christie:
Based on his past support for Romney, it seems inconsistent that — with just six days to go before Election Day — Christie would now suddenly downplay the importance of the presidential election, and help bolster Obama’s re-election chances.
So what’s up? Is Christie angry he was passed over for vice president? Has he resigned himself to Romney’s defeat? Or is something else afoot?
At some level, my guess is there must have been a Christie/Romney schism. Anything else seems implausible.
A Christie aide denies the idea that their is a rift between the two men.
When it comes to politicians, my cynicism can be unmatched at times and I think it’s clearly possible that electoral issues are in the back of Christie’s mind to some extent. After all, were he to screw this up it would likely be a serious problem for his political future and there is a Gubernatorial Election next year in New Jersey. I don’t really buy the idea that Christie has decided to throw Romney under the bus so he can make a run for the White House in 2016, though, because that just seems far too Machiavellian for him. If there are political considerations here, though, it’s simply the political reality that Christie has to handle this right or he’s going to be in trouble in 2013. Isn’t that how politics is supposed to work?
As for why Christie has been so kind toward Obama, isn’t it just possibly that he’s speaking his mind? We’ve all come to know that Chris Christie is a guy who tends to speak his mind, loudly at times, and who doesn’t really care what anyone thinks about it. Often, that involves being critical of people and he’s been accused of bullying because of that. Now, though, it strikes me that this is just Chris Christie being Chris Christie. He’s always been like this, and now that he’s faced with the biggest crisis of his Governorship, I don’t know why anyone is surprised that he’s being Chris Christie again. He’s speaking his mind, and the people who are trying to read something into it, or accusing him of being disloyal to Mitt Romney by serving the people of his state are being just a little ridiculous in my opinion.
You’re doing a good job Governor. Keep it up, and don’t listen to the critics.
Update: A further thought. I don’t think you can discount the fact that Christie is clearly a man who wears his heart on his sleeve, and a man who loves his home state. I’ve noticed over the past two days that his helicopter tours of the Jersey Shore area, one yesterday and then another today with President Obama, that he really does seem to be deeply affected by what he’s seen. Consider these two tweets from Tuesday night:
The Jersey Shore of my youth is gone. #Sandy.
— Governor Christie (@GovChristie) October 30, 2012
The rides I took my kids on this summer are in the Atlantic Ocean. #Sandy
— Governor Christie (@GovChristie) October 30, 2012
It was an emotionally overwhelming afternoon for me as a son of this state. #Sandy
— Governor Christie (@GovChristie) October 30, 2012
Maybe you have to have grown up in New Jersey to get it.
Yes, unlike every politician in the history of the world, Christie is just a big softie who can’t stop himself from speaking the truth as he sees it. There’s never any political motivation in his heart or mind, whether he’s praising a president he called an idiot last week, or calling school teachers whose paychecks he signs parasites.
So don’t even try to look for a poltical motivation with this True Soul. It demeans politics, and it demeans us all.
It’s good to have someone from outside both parties who can see so clearly and enlighten those of us who might be tempted to consider him a sociopathic bully who has momentarily found a different path to power than sucking up to billionaires while screwing the middle and lower classes.
Of course it’s about Election Day ….not the one in 2012 but the one in 2013 when Christie is up for election. A Republican Governor of a very blue state needs to look bipartisan. Romney’s a lost cause. Christie is all about survival at this point.
When the rubber hits the road…states rights, shrinking gubmint, etc. is exposed as just so much BS.
Obama’s doing a heckuva job.
Christie knows that.
So if he’s motivated by re-election concerns, isn’t that how our political system is supposed to work?
He’s doing his job. Naturally people are shocked.
Meanwhile Romney is buying $5000 worth of stuff to stage a phony disaster relief/campaign event…and giving it to people to hand back to Romney in pictures.
Hahahahahahaha…you can’t make up how fake this guy is.
@Doug Mataconis: Yeah, whether the guy actually means it or is just saying what he thinks sounds good, he’s trying to help and/or please his constituents. Seems like that’s exactly what he should be doing.
I’m pretty sure it is a combination of the following:
a) He’s genuinely trying to do right by his state at an extraordinarily challenging time.
b) One of the people who can help him achieve this is the President. The party of said President is fairly irrelevant compared to the assistance said President can provide.
c) He’s a Red governor of a Blue state who will be likely running against a larger than life Blue opponent next year (Cory Booker) and this is an opportunity to show that he will bend over backwards to help the people of New Jersey recover from an unprecendented disaster.
The next few weeks are going to define the rest of his political career.
Meanwhile Republican big-idea guy Steve King (R-Iowa) says disaster relief should come with conditions…and it needs to be payed for…just like he and 10 other members of the House did on Katrina.
My guess is the pay-fors can’t come from the 1%, or Defense. It’s an extremist party now, folks.
Springsteen or pseudo-rocker Kid Rock? Now that’s a tough choice…
Then perhaps you should have considered that option in your little love note to Christie. I don’t remember reading that anywhere in your post.
@wr: Christie is just a big softie who can’t stop himself from speaking the truth as he sees it.
Chris Christie certainly is “big” and “soft.” Which is why I haven’t ruled out the possibility that the Obama administration offered him an all-you-can-eat Denny’s card.
As when he called out the Mayor of Atlantic City prior to the storm, in the great Romney tradition of politicizing a tragic event before it even happens.
Governor, there’s a guy calling you out on national tv basically calling you a liar. Perhaps dodging him as you have isn’t the best option.
As with his predecessors (most of whom have ended up in prison rather than finishing their terms) the Mayor of A.C. is an incompetent boob. He put people in shelters that ended up flooding and there was no way for state resources to get to them on Monday night.
@edmondo: “Then perhaps you should have considered that option in your little love note to Christie.”
Christie appears to be a blowhard and a bully and he may have noxiously wrong views on many aspects of public policy. He does not appear to be a hateful fanatic whose every word and deed is in service to ideological idiocy or nakedly craven power. I haven’t seen or heard anything from the man that would make me thing political calculation played much if any role in what he’s doing now.
I think that Christie is mostly concerned with New Jersey, but if there’s an election on his mind it’s 2013. He’ll need to be re-elected before anything else, and he’s still an R in a D state, no need to piss off potential voters for no reason.
Astonishing. So you can talk about the actual effects of one Republican’s governance. Yes, you follow it up with the oh-so important question of what the big white guy conservative is really thinking, but it’s a start.
The next step, of course would be to talk about the likely outcomes of a Republican presidency whose stated policy would be to eliminate FEMA.
You could even talk about how nice it is that your preferred Presidential candidate supports FEMA. Doesn’t that sound like something that would fit well on a conservative political blog?
OK Doug, where in AC should those shelters have gone? And really, incompetent boob? I sense a bit of projection here.
Take a look at a map of AC and you decide what structures that could have been used should have been.
And why doesn’t Christie, who has a long standing documented pissing match going with this mayor defend himself when called out rather than relying on a blogger from VA?
Christie sounds like a guy with responsibilities dealing with a disaster. You deal with the facts as they exist. You’ve no time for people asking fool questions. As he said, he doesn’t care about the election now. More pressing matters to attend to.
I see you’ve adopted the Mitt Romney definition of most.
Setting aside the ridiculous lie about AC that Doug is too lazy to check out for veracity, I find it hilarious all this teeth-knashing about allowing President Obama to look “presidential”. That is a bar that he does not have to clear, as he is already the president. It is Romney that must convince voters that he can handle the job. What is upsetting the right is that their entire electoral strategy is to portray Obama as a failure, so obviously Christie has ulterior motives if he doesn’t feed into the meme.
Shorter Doug. “Incompetent Boob” ( who obviously knows more about AC,it’s residents and geography than you do) and then the BS about how 2 former mayors could be identified that served time, if you go back to 1930 or beyond.
Truly a dizzying series of uninformed statements Doug.
Pundits have waaaaay too much time on their hands. Christie is not a jabroni. He’s a thinking, experienced professional who’s the CEO of a state that’s suffered a major natural disaster. Obama is POTUS. 1+1+1 = 3, not 7. It’s actually that simple.
“Christie sounds like a guy with responsibilities dealing with a disaster. You deal with the facts as they exist. “
One can mostly speed by other comments here and simply read yours —> concise, non-partisan and side-lining glib political speculation. Nice-going……
@jan: I love the fact that whenever anyone praises a Republican, Jan proclaims it “non-partisan.” Odd how she’s never found a single positive word about a Democrat to be that…
I’m curious – in the light of this vast disaster hitting the east coast, have your reconsidered the views you expressed about federal disaster relief after the Joplin disaster?
Never believe a rumor until it’s been officially denied.
Can’t you ever see anything outside of a political framework? My comment above was praising another poster’s comment for observing the political neutrality of Christie’s initial focus — seeing to it that the highest and best consideration was being addressed for NJ, that being of cutting all the bureaucratic red tape, which Obama did, to his credit.
A well documented ongoing fued.
And Christie just couldn’t help himself.
The rift being referred to was between Christie and ROMNEY.
That’s hysterical coming from you. Good one!
I’m as cynical as they get, but are we really to the point where someone who just watched the state he loved get absolutely crushed, has had no sleep trying to help his people, and is just trying to fix a mess has to viewed as having ulterior motives?
Christie is frank and blunt and an asshole on a lot of things, but isn’t it possible he just loves his state and where he grew up and honestly doesn’t give two hoots in hell about the election while people in his state are drowning?
@JKB: I’m with you on this, JKB. He’s rockin’ & rollin’.
“Romney Campaign bought 5k worth of goods to give to supporters to give back to him for “relief” effort.”
What an ass.
Go ahead, hitch your wagon to a car wreck.
He’s still a blowhard and a bully; the kind of guy I would “like to have a beer with”, but emphatically not the qualities I would like to see in a President.
I just saw Christie give a report on TWC. The DOT office received 400-some-odd reports of closed roads.
All but 20 of those roads are passable now. That’s because the downed trees involved power lines. DOT has to wait for the electrical co. on those.
When did those photos show up? Not more than two days ago.
It’s all about the benjamins baby! If I was Christie, and it would speed up federal money into the Jersey coffers, I wouldn’t have stopped at a bear hug. I’d give the President a full on kiss on the lips.
What JKB and Jan are saying is if you drop the partisan BS…this guy Obama is not the incompetent failure they have been saying he is. Which means everything JKB and Jan have typed re: Obama is nothing but partisan BS…which is what I’ve been saying all along.
Thanks for finally admitting I’m right.
Not only is he the fakest douche bag on the planet…but giving canned goods etc. is the worst method of getting relief to victims. Ergo Romney is an inefficient ass.
Better he should give some of the $1B in campaign donations he has raised from the Koch’s and Adelson and Simmons.
Same for Obama. But I haven’t heard about Obama doing staged relief/campaign events.
Look, it is really this simple. Your house is on fire, your kids were trapped on the second floor, the basement has flooded, you have no power, your neighborhood is decimated, you don’t know where all your neighbors are, and some jackass comes up to you and asks you “What do you think about the football game on Tuesday? And why are you being so nice to the fire department?”
No one in their right mind would react any differently than Christie has. And people sitting in the lazyboy drinking hot chocolate and trying to parse his words or figure out what angle he is playing, well, I think that says a lot more about them than it does Chris Christie.
I said no such thing. In fact, I didn’t comment on Obama at all. But if I must, he’s quick for the photo op but then he really has nothing to do but sign off on money transfers here. Obama is very good at doling out money especially when it means votes.
He was a bit less proactive when his true active responsibilities were required to save the Americans in Benghazi.
You didn’t say it…Christie did.
You just agreed with him.
And admitted you are full of partisan BS.
Which is no Suprise to regular commenters at all.
Have a nice election.
I’m curious JBK – Americans die in the service of their country all the time. Why the particular outrage here?
I don’t remember any howls of outrage from the right about the death of Pat Tillman and the subsequent coverup. Tillman could be living in a mansion right now, driving a Ferrari and kicking it with NFL cheerleaders. He gave all that up to serve his country. I just don’t recall the protests from Republicans when this rather heroic young man died a tragic death and then the government lied about how it happened.
I don’t recall the fury when there were twelve embassy/consulate attacks under Bush. Or seven under Reagan.
This is already a big enough tragedy. Stop trying to pimp these deaths for political gain.
NFL players are not allowed to fraternize with the cheerleaders.
Really? I though fraternizing with cheerleaders was the whole reason football existed. Sure was when I was in high school.
Christie’s actions are delivering this message: ‘in a situation where I have to make a clear choice between being a good Republican and being a good governor of NJ, you can count on me to choose the latter.’
I assume that’s actually true, which means there’s nothing wrong with him deliberately conveying that message, or with pointing out that he’s conveying that message. He’s doing the right thing, and he’s letting lots of cameras and reporters notice, which is fine.
Yup. A lot like the choice between Nate Silver and Dean Chambers.
A year ago I guarantee you didn’t know where Libya was. Now suddenly you care deeply about Benghazi. A year from now you won’t remember what the word “Benghazi” means. Right now without running off toe Google maps you don’t even know what end of the country Benghazi is in.
You’re an empty vessel into which Roger Ailes pours his special soup for credulous nincompoops. He fills you up and you run around all steamy hot over something you don’t understand. Then Ailes pours some new brew into your cranial emptiness and you get all worked up about that. Maybe it’ll be Kuala Lampur. Maybe it’ll be Ulan Bator. You won’t know what it means, or why anyone should care, but you’ll be very, very excited about it. And then it’ll dribble right on out of your ears and you’ll think no more about it.
Here’s a clue: people who know anything at all about foreign policy in general and the ME in particular don’t give a fwck about Benghazi. They care more about Bahrain than Benghazi. And they should. Can “JKB” explain why Bahrain matters? Nah. But if Bahrain became a way to attack Obama, then he’d suddenly be an expert. And he would suddenly care deeply. Just as soon as Roger Ailes ‘splained it to him.
You know, maybe President Obama’s and FEMA’s response has just been that good. Maybe the government has just been performing as it should. That’s what you get when you have somebody in charge who actually does want to make government work.
First, Matt Lewis? I’m not that familiar with the man’s work, but this is the same Matt Lewis who thought that Romney’s 47% comments would trigger a debate on makers versus takers.
Talk about misreading things…..
Second….Michael, you’re the man:
No joke, man.
A few weeks ago, I said Romney should shut up about Benghazi because he was misplaying it BIG time. He hasn’t said peep about it since Candy Crowley embarrassed him at the debate.
I advise Obama’s opponents to do the same: Shut up about Benghazi.
We listened with attentive interest to the complaints about the birth certificate, the death panels, the Kenyan socialism, the apology tour bullshit. We’re not going to listen to conspiracy theories about Benghazi.
Keep crying if you want, but we looked. There is still no wolf.
Under Republican stewardship: before joining FEMA, Michael Brown “Brownie” was the Judges and Stewards Commissioner for the International Arabian Horse Association
Under Democratic stewardship: before joining FEMA, William Craig Fugate had been the Director of the Florida Division of Emergency Management.
Expect a similar pattern (or no FEMA at all) should Romney get elected somehow.
I think this is rather obviously a governor of a hard-hit state, who is prone to running his mouth anyway, who is already a little “mavericky” in that he’s a R in D-leaning state, who actually does appreciate federal assistance with the disaster. I figure it’s likely Christie actually thinks FEMA is a perfectly appropriate thing for the Feds to have. Even if he didn’t, it’s useful to him and his state right now.
I don’t mind Christie, even if I think he’s obviously an ass at times. After all, the alternative was Corzine!
Chris Christie is easy to parse.
He’s only hard to understand if you don’t believe in weather.
Both Christie and Obama are doing their jobs. Obama is doing what he can to ensure that Christie gets the resources he needs to get through the disaster, and Christie is appreciative. Sounds like Christie is doing a good job.
This is what the people of New Jersey elect ANY governor to do.