Upon reflection, it’s actually tragic that this is newsworthy. But such is the state of the Republican’s Party’s rancorous war on the sitting President that when an elected official stops to commend the POTUS on handling a situation with deft compassion and solid policy, it’s enough to garner major headlines.
It’s been no secret since October 23, 2010 that above getting Americans back to work, shoring up the nation’s fiscal situation and making the other tough decisions required to reverse the country’s Bush-era slide, the GOP has focused on ensuring that Obama is relegated to a one-term also-ran. It was on that date that Senate Minority leader, Mitch McConnell of Kentucky said in a print interview with the National Journal, “The single most important thing we want to achieve is for President Obama to be a one-term president.”
It is a singular feature of the modern Republican Party that despite the President’s success with a variety of hot button issues from foreign policy engagement, to the return of manufacturing jobs and crucial healthcare reform, and despite the Congressional thwarting of many other key initiatives designed to uplift the struggling middle class, he has been painted by the right as a do-nothing leader. Ah the disingenuousness of trying to have it both ways. We will stymie all efforts to move the country forward, resulting in the lowest approval numbers for Congress of all time, while claiming (somewhat successfully) that the Commander-in-Chief has no ideas.
But every now and again, in certain dire situations, it’s possible to come across a Republican leader who breaks with party dogma and steps outside the insulated world of partisan politics into reality. In this case I am referring to New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, who is confronting problems in his state today that GOP talking points cannot solve. As the Governor seeks to lead his residents in the early phases of Hurricane Sandy recovery, according to ABC News, Christie has “nothing but praise for President Barack Obama.”
Christie did not mince his words of gratitude in stating, “I want to thank the president personally for his personal attention to this.” At the same time, he delivered a preemptive strike at members of his party, on Fox News no less, who might seek to politicize or condemn his bipartisan cooperation with President Obama. Firmly putting would-be critics in place, Christie declared: “I have a job in New Jersey that is much bigger than presidential politics. I couldn’t care less about that.”
Nothing is more important than beginning to repair the damage wrought by Sandy, to commence rebuilding ravaged homes and assisting displaced families in getting back on their feet. It is commendable that Governor Christie has his priorities straight. It would be wonderful if his Republican colleagues in Congress had been able to set aside a mercenary, win-at-all-costs approach to governance in developing solutions for crises like 2011’s self-inflicted debt ceiling debacle.
It is also comforting to witness a President acting like a leader, recognizing that his job is not to serve the half of voting populace that supported his Oval Office bid in 2008, but ALL Americans in dire straights, whether or not they approve of his overall job performance. It’s times like these where it’s tough to forget that Mitt Romney said of FEMA’s disaster-relief budget in 2011: “We cannot afford to do those things without jeopardizing the future for our kids. It is simply immoral, in my view, for us to continue to rack up larger and larger debts and pass them on to our kids, knowing full well that we’ll all be dead and gone before it’s paid off. It makes no sense at all.” Cue the Etch-a-Sketch shake.
Thus it appears that the much-discussed “October Surprise” of this electoral cycle is not a Donald Trump vanity-tainted “bombshell” announcement, nor the appearance of weather-related trauma. Instead the surprise is that a member of the GOP could skip the schadenfreude and work with the President to get something accomplished.