Thursday, November 1, 2012

Chris Christie and President Obama -- New Besties?

Liberal media (notably MSNBC -- and despite Teapublican assertions, there is not many other examples of liberal media around, just MSNBC, Al Gore's flailing Current and radio networks NPR and MPR) are teasing Chris Christie about his new "bestie."  The teasing is gentle and, in general, approving, even though some pundits are speculating that Christie's cooperation with and appreciation of Obama in the matter of disaster relief reflects his thinking ahead to 2016.  No one really thinks that's awful, or that it's his only (or even main) motivation.  (Well, almost no one:  at least one forum respondent -- not a known pundit -- predicts that Christie will turn on his new bestie as soon as he's gotten all he can get from him.)

Teapublicans have a different take on the matter.

Apparently, it is more important to continue to portray the President of the United States as a monster than to help millions of people in immediate dire need.  Apparently, party politics trump concern for actual citizens, in whose employee our government presumably considers itself.

Rush Limbaugh has broadcast his pretty much unveiled speculation that Christie now has a man-crush on Obama; he calls it "man-love" and calls Christie a "Greek column" for the president.  

Michael Brown, who resigned from his FEMA directorship under Dubya not long after Katrina hit, says Obama responded to Sandy too quickly and attributes purely political motivations to that response.  (Is it impossible to believe anyone ever does anything for reasons even remotely altruistic, or do Teapublicans honestly believe everyone is naturally imbued with Ayn Randian selfishness and only pretends to be motivated by anything but greed and self-aggrandizement?)  

Matt Lewis of the Daily Caller is just as displeased but less virulent in his assessment of Christie's perceived treachery:

"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."

There are several assumptions/beliefs at play in Lewis' reasoning:  1. that Christie is deliberately supporting Obama's reelection, in direct contrast even to his recent statements blasting the president; 2. that it would be better to ignore the president's outstanding performance in this emergency than to let it influence Christie's opinion of him, even though it actually does display leadership qualities in Obama that Christie previously denied; 3. that despite Obama's abilities, it would be disastrous for him to be reelected (well, of course we may make an assumption of our own that Lewis feels this way).  It boils down to the fact that Lewis doesn't want Obama to be reelected and therefore if Christie is honest about his new perceptions of the president, Christie must now want Obama to be reelected and further that this endangers the nation.  He also assumes that Christie is a vengeful sort.  I have no idea whether or not this is true of Christie; being, if I may flatter myself, a good judge of character, I am fairly sure it has no bearing on Christie's current behavior.

How has Christie responded to all this flack?  On Fox News, of all places, he said, “I have no idea, nor am I the least bit concerned or interested. I have a job to do in New Jersey that is much bigger than presidential politics.  If you think right now I give a damn about presidential politics, then you don’t know me.”

I find Christie's politics diametrically opposed to my own, and his previous attacks on Obama about par for the course:  personal, unfounded, snarky.  Despite this, a person may be known, or better known, by his/her actions in time of crisis -- by whether or not they choose (and/or are able) to step up to the plate, as it were.  Perhaps, then, in realizing that his praise for the president is absolutely sincere, as is his concern for his constituents, I know him better than his own party does.  The aforementioned unknown forum poster may well be right, that Christie will revert once the crisis has passed.  I hope not, but I can't say I would be shocked.  Politics is politics.  That won't change my assessment of what's going on right now.  Christie and Obama are pulling together for the American people and all else -- elections, ideological conflicts, party loyalties and political capital -- is, for the nonce, effluvia.

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