The right suspected Chris Christie’s conservative credentials before he even stepped onto the convention stage to deliver his perplexing keynote speech. While the speech was boldly conservative in its condemnation of liberalism (without mentioning President Obama), and in its repeated theme of “leadership,” (without mentioning Romney for five pages), the GOP was out for political blood and Christie ultimately refused to draw any against the President.
Then came Christie’s pre-first debate prediction that Romney was going to destroy the President in the debate. At the same time, however, the Romney campaign was working feverishly to lower expectations for Romney. Had Romney failed in that first debate, Christie’s comments would have made the failure that much more accentuated. It was a masterful political move for Christie: either he would have helped his chances for 2016 by helping to take down Romney, or, as happened, Romney would perform well and Christie would look like a master political prognosticator.
When hurricane Sandy hit, she blew away any doubt that Christie is working hard to set himself up for 2016. Christie immediately praised President Obama’s response to the hurricane, even before the recovery effort was fully underway. And when the President offered to tour the devastation in New Jersey with Christie, Christie quickly agreed. Christie could have easily had the same reaction as Bloomberg and declined the President’s invitation to tour due to all the “work” ahead. Instead, he turned the situation into a beneficial political development for himself. Both he and the President now get the coveted “bipartisan” street cred just days before the election and during a time when the nation is focused on the events and aftermath of the hurricane as well as the government’s response.
This is all a very jaded view of our leaders, but then again, it would have been very difficult for Christie to have declined the President and accepted Romney without looking blatantly political so close to what will be a tough reelection campaign for Christie in a blue-leaning state. And of course, Romney has not helped himself after he embarrassingly failed to even organize an effective fund-raising event for hurricane victims. In a real sense, so far both the President and Christie deserve credit for their handling of the recovery efforts. There is no reason why they can’t ask voters to reward them for their good leadership in a trying time.
When Romney loses this election, it will be in no small part due to the unkindest cuts of all–the several cuts inflicted by the hand of Chris Christie this campaign season. As for Democrats, we will assuredly have a tough opponent in 2016.