Sensible conservatives have had to put up with a lot since Ronald Reagan left the White House — and to be clear, Reagan also had a few very weak moments. But expecting us to get enthusiastic about the sadly realistic prospect of New Jersey Governor Chris Christie becoming the Republican Party’s next presidential nominee is, at least for me, way beyond the pale.
If Governor Christie isn’t the most cynical, self-centered, egotistical opportunist exploiting a carefully developed but fundamentally false conservative persona on the political scene today, I don’t want to meet the person who is.
The event representing the straw that broke the camel’s back, causing me to reject the idea of Christie ever rising any further than Garden State governor, took place on Tuesday, when he lashed out at the federal flood insurance program’s utter failure to come through in time of dire need for the victims of Superstorm Sandy. Here is some of what he said:
… I’ve been as patient as I’m going to be with the national flood insurance plan. And now I’m going to have to turn my special brand of love and affection onto the national flood insurance plan, and this morning is the start of that. They need to get more people into New Jersey, they need to get to work, and they need to get to processing these claims.
… New Jersey households timely paid their insurance premiums. So they deserve to have their claims timely paid now.
… 85% of (Sandy-related private insurance) homeowner claims have been resolved; only 30% of flood insurance claims have been resolved. That’s just unacceptable — unacceptable for people who paid these premiums. And I’m not going to sit around and take it quietly any longer.
We’ve tried to work behind the scenes, urged them to do it. We’ve gotten all kinds of assurances that haven’t been met. And so now we’re going to be publicly calling on them and calling on our Congressional delegation to get all over the national flood insurance program.
Why did this bother me so greatly? I’ll explain.
Just three months earlier, on October 31, President Barack Obama visited the areas wrecked by Sandy, and promised:
… [w]e are not going to tolerate red tape. We’re not going to tolerate bureaucracy.
At the time, just days before the November 6 presidential election, instead of delivering the measured gratitude appropriate in such early-stage circumstances, Christie made the rounds of the morning TV shows praising Obama as if he were the second coming of Mother Teresa and Clara Barton combined, even though all the president had done was pay him a photo-op visit and utter some encouraging words: “[t]he president has been all over this and deserves great credit. He gave me his number at the White House and told me to call him if I needed anything.” We have Match.com for that, Chris.
Despite the virtual blackout by Obama’s apparatchiks in the national establishment press, many of whose members live and work within an hour’s drive of hard-hit locales, it is a fact that Obama’s personally delivered Sandy-related promises aren’t being kept. For many in the affected areas, the process of recovery from Sandy is going no better — and possibly worse, given the winter weather — than the cleanup effort after Hurricane Katrina in 2005. The press somehow portrayed that disaster and its aftermath, both in fact largely fed by the utter incompetence of now-indicted former New Orleans Mayor Ray Nagin and former Louisiana Governor Kathleen Blanco, both Democrats, as President George W. Bush’s fault.
Perhaps it’s a stretch to say that Christie’s slurpfest with Obama just a week before Election Day cost Mitt Romney the presidency, but it indisputably exposed Chris Christie as being all about Chris Christie.