Am I the only Republican who is shaking his head over the effusive praise Chris Christie is showering on President Obama in connection with the federal response to Hurricane Sandy? As Politico reports, Obama and Christie “cemented their new-found mutual admiration society on Wednesday, as the men gushed with praise for one another while touring damage from Hurricane Sandy on the devastated Jersey Shore.” According to Politico, in the course of a press statement and an earlier appearance at a nearby storm shelter, Christie publicly thanked Obama at least six times for his dedication to getting help and supplies to the Garden State.
Among Christie’s statements praising Obama was this:
I’m pleased to report that he has sprung into action to help get us those things immediately. It’s been a great working relationship to make sure that were doing the job people elected us to do. I cannot thank the president enough.
Christie’s first obligation is to New Jersey, of course. So it’s natural that he wants to stay on Obama’s good side in this time of crisis. And it would inappropriate, in any case, not to thank Obama for helping, even though doing so is (a) the president’s job and (b) politically wise.
But I don’t see the need, from the standpoint of helping New Jersey, to lavish so much praise on the president. Obama is going to try to demonstrate concern and leadership in responding to the hurricane whether Christie becomes his buddy or not.
Meanwhile, the Christie-Obama love fest helps the president cast himself in a bipartisan light that voters across the country will likely find appealing, but which is completely out of character for Obama. Indeed, Christie appears to be the first Republican with whom Obama has worked smoothly as president. No wonder the hysterical, shrieking partisan Democrat Jennifer Granholm has declared Christie her new favorite Republican.
If Christie has an interest in bonding with Obama, it is his own interest, not New Jersey’s. He is up for reelection next year, although he has not said yet whether he will be a candidate. Obama’s praise and the image of the two working together would no doubt be helpful to Christie in a Democratic state that Obama will carry easily next week.
I don’t say that Christie’s conduct is motivated by political calculation, though. Until Hurricane Sandy, he had been one of Obama’s fiercest critics. More likely, Christie thinks he’s doing the right thing by displaying the spirit of bipartisanship during a crisis.
No one wants Christie to act like a partisan during a natural disaster. But Christie could be non-partisan and gracious without, on the eve of a critically important national election, indulging in a love fest with a president whose overall performance he has consistently denounced.