New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) threw an odd tantrum yesterday, blasting President Obama for the failure of the congressional super-committee. I ordinarily wouldn’t much care, but since the media loves Chris Christie, his complaints generated a fair amount of attention, and it’s probably worth taking a moment to set the record straight.
Calling Obama “a bystander in the Oval Office,” the outspoken New Jersey governor said the White House spent the weekend tossing out a whole lot of “spin” about the supercommittee’s inability to come to an agreement before the Nov. 23 deadline.
“I was angry this weekend, listening to the spin coming out of the administration, about the failure of the supercommittee, and that the president knew it was doomed for failure, so he didn’t get involved. Well then what the hell are we paying you for?” Christie said during a press conference in Camden, N.J. “It’s doomed for failure so I’m not getting involved? Well, what have you been doing, exactly?”
Part of the problem here is that Christie isn’t quite as smart as he thinks he is, and bombast can only go so far in covering up ignorance.
Did the administration say the president kept his distance from the talks because Obama knew the process was doomed to fail? No, the governor appears to have made this up. As for what the president has been “doing, exactly,” Obama’s the one who’s offered Republican lawmakers a series of overly-generous debt reduction plans — to the chagrin of his own party — only to see the GOP reject every proposal.
Is Christie not aware of this? If so, why did he try to deceive the public yesterday? If not, shouldn’t he have gotten his facts straight before popping off to the press?
The New Jersey governor added that he’s “astonished” that the president “refuses” to just call people into a room and solve problems. This is the kind of criticism the media finds compelling, but which is nevertheless idiotic.
The president has tried every negotiating tactic that exists to get congressional Republicans to work on finding solutions. Obama has tried hands-on talks; he’s tried keeping his distance. The president has tried hard sells and soft sells, directly and indirectly. He’s made private appeals and public appeals. He’s made arguments based on policy, polls, and principles. He’s tried charm offensives, combativeness, and everything in between. He’s made partisan, bipartisan, tripartisan, and nonpartisan arguments, all in the hopes that maybe, just maybe, GOP leaders will be open to good-faith compromise.
And yet, nothing has worked. Nothing.
In the case of the super-committee, Republicans simply weren’t willing to compromise. They’ve admitted as much. GOP members of the panel made demands that no sensible person could possibly consider reasonable, and ultimately, weren’t intended to work towards a resolution anyway.
Does Chris Christie, or anyone else, think Republicans were going to be responsible because the president — the chief executive they loathe with a passion, and whose presidency they seem so desperate to destroy, that they’ll sabotage the nation’s interests — asked them to? Is there any scenario in which GOP officials were going to accept new tax revenue after the president asked really nicely?
The New Jersey governor seems to believe a debt deal would come together if Republicans and the president simply sat down for candid conversations. Given that Obama has already tried this repeatedly, without success, anyone who believes such stupidity just hasn’t been paying close enough attention.