CHRISTIE RETURNS, STARTS POINTING FINGERS…. To put a coda on a story that came up this week, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) left for Florida on Sunday after being told of an impending blizzard headed for his home state. His lieutenant governor was also away, and their simultaneous trips left the emergency response in the hands of state Senate President Stephen Sweeney (D), who served as the acting governor.
The result was a flap that undermined Christie’s image as a hands-on, take-charge chief executive. It didn’t help that the governor chose not to cut short his Disney World vacation, leaving Democratic officials to do all the heavy lifting (sometimes literally) while Christie enjoyed some fun in the sun.
When asked about the hundreds of people trapped in their homes for days, Christie said unless they lived on state roads, it’s not something his administration would have been able to change.
“If someone is snowed into their house, that’s not our responsibility,” Christie said.
When asked about mayors who said they were forced to divert their resources to unplowed state roads instead of clearing local roads Christie said, “I know who these mayors are and they should buck up and take responsibility for the fact that they didn’t do their job.”
One wonders if Christie thinks he did his job.
Asked about the timing of his trip, the governor added, “My first and most important responsibility, in my view, is as a husband and a father.”
At face value, that sounds fine, but the circumstances don’t exactly help his case. The storm was serious enough for the acting governor to declare a state of emergency, coordinate with state and local agencies, and activate the National Guard. While this was going on, Christie’s “first and most important responsibility” was to hang out at the Magic Kingdom?
A Wall Street Journal report added yesterday that Christie “has several times criticized lawmakers for being on vacation.” Oops.
Just to reiterate a point from the other day, I really don’t blame Christie for wanting to take a break. Everyone, including the governor and lieutenant governor of New Jersey, is entitled to a vacation, and I haven’t seen any evidence to suggest New Jersey’s response to the storm would have been any different had its chief executive stuck around to oversee the response.
But the circumstances nevertheless look bad for Christie, who seems to have run into a political problem that belligerence and YouTube-ready antagonism can’t solve.