The nature of Chris Christie’s responsibilities

THE NATURE OF CHRIS CHRISTIE’S RESPONSIBILITIES…. I had no intention of returning to the subject, but so long as Chris Christie (R) keeps talking about this, I’m inclined to note the error of his ways.

By now, the story should be familiar. Last weekend, New Jersey officials were warned of a major blizzard headed for the state. Later that day, the lieutenant governor left to tend to a family matter in Mexico, while Gov. Christie decided to leave for a Florida vacation with his family. 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 he eventually returned, the governor blamed mayors, and proclaimed, “If someone is snowed into their house, that’s not our responsibility.” When that didn’t go over well, Christie turned to friendly media outlets to make him feel better.

Gov. Chris Christie took to the airwaves [Monday] to continue the defense of his decision to remain in Florida as a blizzard slammed New Jersey and discuss his recent battles with public employee unions.

Christie did a tour of the conservative radio circuit, including an interview with nationally syndicated host Sean Hannity, who also anchors a show on cable’s Fox News.

The governor stuck to a simple line: “My first responsibility in life is as a husband and father.”

I realize this might sound compelling, and under certain circumstances, it might be. If, for example, there was a horrible ordeal and one of the governor’s loved ones was in the hospital, and Christie couldn’t tend to his duties, I suspect most decent people would cut him a great deal of slack. If, under this awful scenario, the governor said, “My first responsibility in life is as a husband and father,” no one would fault him.

But Christie would have his constituents believe he had a “responsibility” to hang out at Epcot Center while his state struggled with an emergency. I don’t imagine anyone would seriously suggest that the governor ignore his wife and kids, but Disney vacations are not integral to one’s responsibilities. The rationale is therefore kind of silly.

In the grand scheme of things, Christie’s screw-up on this isn’t the worst thing he’s done in his first year in office. I’m not an expert on the intricacies of New Jersey governing, but it seems at a distance his administration’s ignominious error on applying for federal education funds and his inexplicable decision to turn down transportation funds were far more severe.

The difference with the blizzard mistake appears to be political: this one’s sticking and Christie knows it. He doesn’t want to apologize, and he can’t find someone to shout at to make the problem go away.