It’s bad science to play politics in the midst of a disaster. In a moment of emotional, nonpartisan fog, Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey sent sticky, sweet accolades to BHO for responding so quickly with disaster relief in the Garden State. BHO in his omnipresent arrogance responded by saying it was true that “we” were prepared and responded so quickly. In lieu of a simple “thank you” or acknowledgement of “It’s my job”, the President seemed unable to resist yet another opportunity for arrogant self-affirmation. The Governor proclaimed he doesn’t “give a lick” about the upcoming election. He went on to state that the election only matters to the people on the ballot.
While I can understand how an event of the magnitude of a superstorm could move people to re-structure their priorities, contrary to the Governor of New Jersey, the upcoming election matters to many more than just the candidates. The whole exchange between the two played out like a scene from a soupy soap opera where archenemies finally realize the futility of their evil ways and become lifelong friends from that moment forward. The press has been quick to heap accolades upon BHO for taking time from his busy campaign schedule to make a personal appearance along side the behemoth Chris Chirstie, as if even an incumbent president would be stupid enough to catch a flight to a battleground state in the face of a regional disaster.
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Call me old-fashioned, but I’m not one who expects praise and glory for doing my job. Conversely, I fully expect to be castigated for failing to fulfill my duties and obligations. The same scale of excellence and failure applies to anyone who is under one’s charge to perform things properly and correctly. The supervisor might not get all the approval and admiration for a job well done, but he sure as hell will catch hell for not keeping a fire beneath the underling to do his job right.
We should all be very happy and generally relieved that those stricken by Sandy on the eastern seaboard are getting the help they so deserve and need. If we can’t rely upon an overgrown, bloated albeit bankrupt government for disaster relief, then what good are its food stamps? However, praising BHO and his minions for acting swiftly and preparedly under the circumstances is akin to congratulating the fire department for showing up at a residential blaze. Essential services are one of the hallmarks that justify organized government along with maintaining law and order. The key word is essential, and therein lies the rub between the entitled and the self- sufficient.
There is no more opportune moment for nonpartisan politics than a major disaster or act of war like 9/11. People should put aside their differences, work together, and help each other to overcome destruction and devastation. It is human nature for us to disregard the differences that ordinarily divide us when anyone needs emergency assistance. When someone’s life is in danger or they are suffering from a serious injury or wound, we instinctively step into action. We do so ostensibly because we are human and not because of the office we hold or the title that precedes or follows our name.
The recent exchange of niceties between the president and the governor (who is not his opponent) are illustrative of nothing politically significant save for a moment of apolitical neutrality. Despite the acclamation of Charles Dickens that “It is a melancholy truth that even great men have their poor relations”, I presume the opposite might be true. I’m not a great fan of the large man who governs New Jersey. I find him sanctimonious and trite even in the face of his presumed directness and candor. My view of Mr. Obama is likewise not favorable. A half an hour spent in conversation with either of these self-aggrandizing politicians would be enough to make even the most patient counselor demand a much-needed timeout. Humility is not a character note that comes to mind when either Obama or Christie is mentioned.
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So what was the point of the pleasantries? I don’t know. Perhaps it was nothing more than how two people act when one needs help and another provides it. Or maybe it was a fleeting, legitimate, altruistic vision of unity. I’m skeptical of either supposition. I opine that Mr. O jumped on this opportunity like a grizzly on a salmon headed upstream. He desperately needed something to happen this late in the race.
But what about The Big Guy from Jersey? Maybe he seized the moment to reinforce his call for bipartisan bargaining or as an opportunity to reschedule Halloween via executive order.
With less than a week before the election, this act of God may have served the President well. Governor Christie may have waxed prophetic when he uttered the following as part of his keynote address just a couple of months ago: “Our leaders today have decided it is more important to be popular, to do what is easy and say ‘yes,’ rather than to say ‘no’ when ‘no’ is what’s required.”
No one would argue that Mr. Obama’s “yes” to New Jersey’s need for disaster relief was both right, easy, and unavoidably popular. Not even the self-assured Mr. Christie could have foreseen the circumstances wherein his assailment of the incumbent would so readily prove true in an ironic sort of way.
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