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In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, much has been made of New Jersey Republican Governor Chris Christie and his public thanking of President Obama for his handling of the situation in New Jersey. Christie appeared on Fox News’ faux news program “Fox and Friends” and said:
“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 he signed the declaration this morning (disaster declaration). So I have to give the President great credit. He’s been on the phone with me three times in the last 4 hours. He’s been very attentive, and anything 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.”
Holy crap. Stop the presses. Take a seat. The United States of America has just witnessed the most momentous political event of the past ten years: a Republican governor has thanked a Democratic president and said he has done a “great job” in the throes of a contentious election during which only days before that exact Republican governor had been highly critical of the president and his leadership, comparing him to a man lost in a dark room looking for “the light switch of leadership.” Apparently, to paraphrase Jon Stewart, Obama found the light switch.
If you ask those like the ceaselessly spewing cesspool of egregiously misrepresented, hyperbolic, and hyper-analyzed B.S. that is Rush Limbaugh, Christie’s reaction to the presidents handling of the situation is akin to campaigning for him; Christie has played the role of “Greek column” for Obama. Rush, my friend, it is called a disaster for a reason. When millions of people are in danger, the letters “D” and “R” means a hell of a lot less than the job you were elected to do: lead and protect your people. That is exactly what Governor’s Christie and Cuomo did to the best of their ability. In the past I have disagreed with Governor Christie, and I have no doubt that I will again in the future; but as a leader in a time of such great strife, he has done a fantastic job.
God forbid our elected officials work together in a time of crisis. Those who have criticized Christie for praising the president need to take a long hard look inside and think about what is most important: the allegiance to a bloated, existentially constructed, corporately funded ideology that is robbing you blind of your individuality and forcing you to talk in a language that is spoon fed to you rather than your own, or the safety and security of your fellow citizens who need their government to help them in a time of crisis. Sandy didn’t care whether Christie was a Republican or a Democrat, the storm destroyed the Jersey Shore all the same; the fact that party politics are even coming into the discussion, despite the proximity to the election is disgusting and sadly, not all that surprising.
The real story here is not Obama and Christie working together to get through a crisis. The real story here is the outright shock of the American public and the media that two men of opposing parties would work together during a time of great crisis. When one of the largest cities in the world is half under water and there are millions of people with no electricity, dwindling food supplies and ravaged homes, the letter next to the name should not be important. The fact that we as a people are so surprised and so critical of two politicians from opposing parties working together in a time of crisis says a lot about where we are as a country: intellectually and emotionally adrift in a sea of misperception.
It is troubling that bipartisanship is getting attention as a “taboo.” God forbid our elected officials do what we elected them to do. God forbid they put aside their differences on policy and lead as they were chosen to. God forbid in a time of great need and much suffering the people chosen to lead do so. Thank God they did.
Those of you who were critical of Governor Christie and his complimenting of the president, get real.
Joe Alicata is a senior at the University at Albany where he is studying public policy, philosophy and political science. Currently he is the Editor in Chief of the Albany Student Press. Additionally, Joe is the director of news for WCDB 90.9 FM, and host of “The Lowdown”. His interests include politics, philosophy, cooking, cars, weight lifting, and the occasional sunlit walk on the beach.