Christie, Obama, Romney, and the Right
I will be fascinated to watch as the day unfolds to see how the wingosphere handles Chris Christie. This hero of the right, who just a week and change ago was comparing Obama to a man flailing for a light switch in a dark room, has been heaping praise on Obama as we know and is touring his state with the president today, which is bound to result in some nice visuals and more rhetorical mutual regard.
First of all, this should not be remarkable. Presidents and governors tour flood-damaged areas. It shouldn't be political, and it doesn't matter if it's the day before an election. These people should manage to put politics aside once in a while. It's pathetic that Mitt Romney, it's been reported, called only Republican governors and not Democrats like Martin O'Malley and Andrew Cuomo, but he's a pathetic guy, and we knew that.
But in our current context, it is remarkable. True, Christie is being self-interested here, for reasons I went into yesterday, and because (someone reminded me later yesterday) he's seeking reelection next year and will need Democratic and independent votes. But whatever his motivation, and I should add for the record that obviously I don't doubt he's distraught about what's happened to his state, what he's doing here has big political ramifications.
Ask yourself: Suppose Mitt Romney were spending the day touring Ocean City, Maryland with O'Malley and Breezy Point or lower Manhattan with Cuomo. Think that'd be a big deal? You bet it would. The right would crowing--Obama looks weak and irrelevant, master stroke by Romney, Obama doesn't even the support of key Democratic governors, etc.
Instead, Romney looks, and is, irrelevant. That "nonpolitical" event of his yesterday was disgraceful. The Red Cross doesn't even want canned goods. His normal campaign bio film ran, which strategist Stuart Stevens tried to laugh off as having shown because "some volunteer just pressed play, I guess." And McCain, with his Benghazi remarks, made Romney's day yesterday as political as it could possibly be.
Will Limbaugh et al. howl about Judas Christie today? Will they try to downplay it? My guess is the latter. Like it's no big deal. The more typical right-wing response to unpleasant developments is to ignore them and try to shrug them off. So I'd guess that their outrage today will be private.
But here's what will be public. Images of the Republican convention keynote speaker, a man known to be adored by conservatives, standing with the hated Kenyan, probably agreeing with him and maybe even taking the lead as they urge Congress to pass emergency supplemental relief funds. That will air on cable and the nightly news all over the country, and the mere picture will say to people, "Romney doesn't really matter here."
Pair that with Romney pretending not to be political but being relentlessly so, and set them both alongside the Chrysler CEO's smackdown of Romney for his lies about Jeep abandoning Ohio for China--and the seemingly harshly negative press Romney is getting in Ohio for inexplicably standing by his false claim--and you have a week that has started off about as badly for the challenger as it could have.