Leadership is, among other things, about taking responsibility. House Speaker John Boehner failed on that score when he caved to the tea partyers in his caucus and postponed a promised vote on Superstorm Sandy relief.
But by going off on one of his manufactured rants – this one against the radical elements that call the shots in his party – Gov. Christie also failed the responsibility test. Rather than being accountable for his year’s worth of campaigning and keynoting for right-wing Republicans, Christie ducked it. And in an act of stunning hypocrisy, he slammed the very do-nothing GOP House that he was fighting and fund-raising for just a few months before.
There’s no doubt Christie cares about those affected by Superstorm Sandy. And there’s no doubt he was disgusted by Congress’ abandonment of them. However, it’s hard to believe he was shocked by it.
After all, these are the same representatives who have been consistent and clear in their opposition to most functions of the federal government. Steve LaTourette, a moderate Ohio Republican who just retired from the House, recently nailed the problem as “the same 40, 50 chuckleheads” who “have screwed this place up.” They’re simply making good on their promises by behaving in the halls of Congress precisely as they said they would on the campaign trail. Punting on Sandy relief was the inevitable result of a Congress dominated by representatives who simply don’t believe in government.
These are the folks Christie crisscrossed the country to put in power. And now he seems as shocked as Capt. Renault finding out about gambling in Casablanca.
Despite what his State of the State address this week would have you believe, Christie didn’t become governor the moment he walked alongside President Obama and gave Bruce Springsteen a hug in the wake of Sandy. New Jersey’s unemployment hovers around 10 percent, and Yahoo Financial ranked it among the five worst-run states in the Union. A major reason for these sad facts is that Christie is more focused on his national brand than on the people of his state. He has a three-year record of governing recklessly, just as he has campaigned recklessly.
Last summer, after Mitt Romney announced Paul Ryan as his running mate, Christie gave the ticket a full-throated endorsement. Ryan was one of the 67 members of Congress who recently voted against legislation to pay flood insurance claims.
Republican Rep. Steve King of Iowa threatened to vote against Sandy aid for the same reason he opposed Katrina relief – because the recipients might spend the money on “Gucci bags and massage parlors.” Last summer, Christie campaigned for King, whose state is home to crucial presidential caucuses – another in a string a choices that put the governor’s political ambitions ahead of the interests of New Jersey.
During Sandy and its immediate aftermath, Christie did his state proud. But now he should be held culpable for supporting the right-wingers who are selling out New Jersey and the storm victims. He can go around pointing fingers, but he ought to look in the mirror first.
After all, Christie isn’t just another typical politician who thinks he can say one thing and do another. Is he?