COMMENTARY | New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s not my kind of guy. I find him brusque, tactless, and he always sounds angry to me.
But in the wake of the devastation of Sandy, he’s proven himself to be one heck of a governor.
With Christie’s statements about President Barack Obama’s action on Sandy, I finally, finally had a glimmer of hope, a glimmer of recognition of a country I faintly remember. It was a country where we were Americans first. Not Republicans and Democrats, but Americans who simply want our fellow citizens to be safe, and who want to help them when they are not.
The president had already declared New Jersey a disaster area when Christie went on television to say that not only had the president given him his direct number, he’d spoken to Obama three times. Reports Raw Story: “He called me for the last time at midnight last night asking what he could do. I said, if you can expedite designating New Jersey as a major disaster area that that would help us to get federal money and resources in here as quickly as possible to help clean up the damage here.
“The president was great last night. He said he would get it done. At 2 a.m., I got a call from FEMA to answer a couple of final questions and then he signed the declaration this morning. So I have to give the president great credit. He’s been on the phone with me three times in the last 24 hours. He’s been very attentive, and anything that I’ve asked for, he’s gotten to me. So, I thank the president publicly for that. He’s done — as far as I’m concerned — a great job for New Jersey.”
Christie didn’t make this statement because it would get him anything. He didn’t praise the president because he thought it would help anyone — himself, the party, the president – politically. He’d already secured relief and federal cooperation for his residents.
He said it simply because it was true.
When lives are lost and yet more hang in the balance, it’s not about who comes out “looking good.” In fact, I find it somewhat surreal that anyone actually has to point that out, but there it is. The devastation along the East Coast is heartbreaking, and the people who will have to piece their lives back together from that devastation are the ones who matter.
Not the photo opportunities those ripped-apart lives might provide. Said Christie of the question of whether Mitt Romney might make use of decimated areas of his state to advance his presidential bid: “I have no idea, nor am I the least bit concerned or interested. I’ve got a job to do here in New Jersey that’s much bigger than presidential politics and I could [sic] care less about any of that stuff.
“I have a job to do. I’ve got 2.4 million people out of power, I’ve got devastation on the shore, I’ve got floods in the northern part of my state. If you think right now I give a damn about presidential politics then you don’t know me.”
Christie may never be my kind of guy, but at the moment, that’s not what really matters. He is doing the job he was elected to do, no frills, no fuss. No political niceties.
Mitt Romney’s “Storm Relief Event”/”Victory Rally” Tuesday in untouched Ohio poetically embodied the risks of a disaster like Sandy under Romney. There, he collected food, though the Red Cross expressly asks for monetary, rather than “in kind” donations due to the costs of sorting, storage and shipping. It’s about what Romney wants, regardless of what people need.
Christie’s interested in what his people need. So is Obama, and that’s why Christie praised him so publicly and so unexpectedly. And this working together for the good of our country and our citizens is precisely, definitively, what our country needs.
Christie set the example. We can heal our nation, so long as we focus on what’s true rather than what looks good in a photo.