Chris Christie

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Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey, not exactly a favorite of mine because of his economic politics and lapses into rudeness, acted correctly, bravely and resolutely in the face of Hurricane Sandy, putting the interests of Americans before politics. And that’s something Mitt Romney did not do once during the election season. 

Doesn’t Christie realize what party he’s in? For four years, even before his inauguration was complete, President Obama has dealt with an obstructionist opposition that didn’t want to moderate his policies but desired to bring him down. If Obama adopted a conservative idea (e.g., individual mandates), it became a “socialist” policy. And the American people are the ones who’ve paid.

Christie, who has been labeled cynical and egomaniacal by Republicans for his righteous embrace of the President during the crisis, has actually won wide respect from most average Americans. It wasn’t his goal, but he may have earned some votes and certainly earned much respect. About Christie’s calm during the storm, by Benjamin Wallace-Wells in New York:

“Which brings us to the defining gesture of Christie’s political career so far: His embrace, after the storm, of President Obama—a man whom two weeks earlier the governor had called arrogant, wondering, ‘What the hell is he doing asking for another four years?’ Suddenly, they were together, two politicians who double as literary archetypes—the rector and the brawler—looking down over battered amusement parks and swallowed towns, each borrowing the other’s authority and reputation for empathy to enhance his own. The president’s response was ‘outstanding,’ Christie said; Obama ‘ deserves great credit.’ When he was asked on Fox News whether he’d also tour the state with Mitt Romney, the governor dismissed the question as absurd: ‘I’ve got a job to do in New Jersey, and it’s much bigger than presidential politics.’ The reaction was divided between those (mainly Democrats) who viewed his gesture as heroic and those (Republicans and cynics) who detected some tactical play for the White House in 2016 and argued that Christie was nothing but a megalomaniac.

As if heroism and megalomania are not very often the same exact thing. One of the few things that Christie and Obama share is a palpable sense that their political opponents are lesser men, though in Obama this exhibits itself as an airy idealism and in Christie as an all-encompassing disgust. What the president’s embrace gave Christie was a grand identity—a national leader, bigger than politics—that for once matched his own self-image. And so here he was, Chris Christie, guardian of the boardwalk, canceler of Halloween, bard of the sausage-and-pepper stand, raging against the storm, ministering to sorrow, a man in full.”

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Gov. Christie: Shut up, idiots, I’m talking. (Image by Bob Jagendorf.)

  • Deval Patrick delivered the speech everyone expected Chris Christie to deliver at the RNC: tough, confident, challenging to his own party as well as the rival one and announcing his own arrival on a national stage, while never taking the spotlight off the top of the ticket.
  • Keynote Speaker Julian Castro made a great impression, but I  don’t agree with the talk that his speech will propel him into national prominence the way that Obama’s 2004 convention address did. It’s not his fault–he’s just too young at 37 for any parallel to occur. If Texas demographics continue, as expected, to trend Hispanic, he will likely run for governor of that state at some point.
  • The large number of references to gay marriage don’t only speak to a new plank of the DNC, but also seem to suggest that Dems are worried about an enthusiasm gap between this Presidential election and the last one. You know, fire up the part of the base that has a chance for real progress in the near future. 
  • Michelle Obama uses the usual rhetorical affectations any orator employs, but she still manages to communicate genuine feelings and emotions incredibly well. Pretty much all Republicans did the smart thing, speaking glowingly of her, realizing that’s the best way to minimize her effect. Only Ari Fleischer, an unrepentant jerk, was not able to contain himself.

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Chris Christie: 2% doesn’t taste the same. (Image by Luigi Novi.)

The most ridiculous moment from Chris Christie’s tone-deaf, masturbatory Keynote Address last night was his assertion that Mitt Romney will tell America “hard truths.” Romney has done absolutely the opposite during this campaign, pledging tax cuts for the wealthiest, a return to a Cold War military budget and yet a reduction in the budget. 

What Christie really is saying is the usual right-wing, supply-side nonsense: Unions, working-class people, seniors and poor people have to sacrifice more while the wealthiest will get larger tax breaks. The pain will not be evenly distributed. I would put aside the unfairness of such an arrangement if it actually worked, but it doesn’t. Nothing trickles down.

If you truly want to help impoverished people, there’s a blueprint. Don’t take away their Medicaid and food stamps. Don’t treat them like they’re evil. Start to replicate in other locations what Geoffrey Canada has done with the Harlem Children’s Zone and make a real investment in those born to poverty. The program works, but it requires work and money across generations. That’s the hard truth.

But it’s easier to be a fake tough guy spouting lies, asking the vulnerable to tighten their belts. And this coming from a guy who won’t even give up whole milk.•

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Governor Chris Christie: Outpolling Rick Santorum. (Image by Walter Burns.)

Inexplicable Republican boy wonder Chris Christie is far from the first politician to lie freely, but his Giuliani-like arrogance is fairly stunning. The governor gets a richly deserved, detailed takedown in “Christie’s Talk Is Blunt, But Not Alwats Straight,” Richard Perez-Pena’s piece in the New York Times. The article’s opening:

“New Jersey’s public-sector unions routinely pressure the State Legislature to give them what they fail to win in contract talks. Most government workers pay nothing for health insurance. Concessions by school employees would have prevented any cuts in school programs last year.

Statements like those are at the core of Gov. Chris Christie’s campaign to cut state spending by getting tougher on unions. They are not, however, accurate.

In fact, on the occasions when the Legislature granted the unions new benefits, it was for pensions, which were not subject to collective bargaining — and it has not happened in eight years. In reality, state employees have paid 1.5 percent of their salaries toward health insurance since 2007, in addition to co-payments and deductibles, and since last spring, many local government workers, including teachers, do as well. The few dozen school districts where employees agreed to concessions last year still saw layoffs and cuts in academic programs.”


Mississippi Governor Haley Barbour: Desperate to be President. (Image by George Armstrong.)

Economist Tyler Cowen analyzes Tuesday’s election results pretty well on his blog. An excerpt:

“Just 32% of the Tea Party candidates won; admittedly that figure should be adjusted by the rate of incumbency (a lot of Tea Party candidates were challengers).  In any case, there was not a Tea Party tidal wave.  Sarah Palin as nominee is up a few points on, although I do not see why.  Haley Barbour is also up and Chris Christie is down considerably (why?).  Given that the Democrats did better than expected in the Senate, Obama’s reelection chances look better now than they did a week ago.  The Republican strategy is not dominating in broad constituency, MSM-reported, ‘lots of scrutiny’ races, even with an abysmal economy and a not so popular health care bill.  My mental model of Obama is that he will cut deals with the Republicans, even on (mostly) their terms, if indeed any deal is on the table.  I would be pleased if critics of the Obama presidency would indicate their managerial background and expertise, yet few do.  How many of them could manage a team of ten people with any success?”

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