Theodore's World: Chris Christie and Obama More Alike Than They Appear

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October 02, 2011

Chris Christie and Obama More Alike Than They Appear

The Fat Guy and the Skinny Guy: More Alike Than They Appear

By James V Capua

American Thinker

For all their contrasting looks, Chris Christie and Barack Obama are alike in one critical respect: both are the kind of politician endangered elites offer up when they correctly perceive their power threatened. To preserve their dominance, establishments seek above all to protect the orthodoxies they have enshrined and the trends they have fostered. By doing so, they maintain the interests of those they depend upon critically for support, and they limit the damage that challengers can cause. This stasis is sold by wrapping it artfully in the bright colors and shimmering bows of novelty.

Barack Obama has been a perfect example. He looked different, but his Hope and Change never challenged an elite orthodoxy. For all his wife's assurances that our lives "as usual" were over, Obama presumed to place himself at the front of Democrat-approved social and cultural trends, all the while never challenging one. He dutifully followed the rules of Democrat discourse: he regularly called out "Wall Street" and "special interests," but his friends at Goldman Sachs, the Green lobby, GE, NEA, SEIU, AARP, AFSCME, AFL-CIO, etc. understood the game and knew they had nothing to fear.

Even as he has become unhinged of late, Obama has restricted his petulant flailing to relatively low-risk targets like the leeches of the Congressional Black Caucus, who have to take it because they have nowhere else to go. He and Chu and Geithner and Summers are brilliant -- but Pelosi and Reid were allowed to run the business.

Obama's eloquence, of course, has been celebrated extravagantly -- particularly by a chorus of what the Brits accurately used to call "news readers," who don't even write their own commonplaces and who would not recognize a memorable phrase if it bit them. Nevertheless, the language that counts in the Obama administration has been that of legislators like Frank, Dodd, and Schumer, and regulators like Warren and Lee.

What does all this have to do with the governor of New Jersey? Like the originals, each of the Abama and Christello 2012 team looks very different from the other, but their shtick is the same. The advocates for Christie are selling him in exactly the same way Obama's did, and for exactly the same reason -- Obama did not, and Christie does not, threaten their respective party orthodoxies, and both promise a comfortable working relationship with party elites.

While, like Obama's before 2008, the Christie balloon has been inflating for some time, the excuse for his current prominence was a talk he gave recently at the Reagan Library. While one could take exception to certain assumptions and emphases, there is nothing wrong with this speech. But like with every speech of Obama's, there is also nothing remarkable about it -- not one phrase, not one image that rises above current Republican convention. Unite us rather than divide us; "when there is a problem you fix it"; we are all in this together; demand sacrifice from all; a healthy American economy reinforces our influence abroad; and, of course, "leadership is compromise."

In this year of infinite promise, why is this banal utterance celebrated in Republican circles? It's safe. In his California oration, Christie waddled as fast as he could to get in front of trends conventional Republicans endorse: the contest in 2012 needs to be all about the economy and jobs and efficiency -- just fix the GDP, and Americans' faith in who and what we are will miraculously follow. Christie never threatened to get anywhere near some of those philosophical, regional, or cultural issues that make NRC Republicans uncomfortable, nor did he evidence any sympathy for libertarian notions. On foreign policy, he embraced neither adventurism nor isolation, and he never questioned the wisdom of our decade-long struggle to introduce assorted barbarians to the glories of democracy. No matter how the decidedly non-disinterested observers try to sell it, it was just a generally angry-looking guy saying things we have heard many times before from mainstream Republicans. Though theoretically an homage to Reagan, Christie's speech could have been delivered by John McCain.

Savants will respond that it was really the give-and-take after the formal speech that marked Christie as The Man of Destiny. Clearly he is a better debater than, say, Rick Perry, and less likely to step into hyperbolic traps than, say, Herman Cain or Michele Bachmann.

The contrast with Perry, Cain, and Bachmann is, of course, the real point of all this for mainstream Republicans, and it incorporates a lot more than Christie's debating skills. Whether by luck or design, Christie's perfectly timed speech provided the opening for a last-ditch attempt by a Republican establishment, worried about a faltering Romney, to head off trends they do not like represented by the Tea Party, Jim DeMint, strong alternative conservative and libertarian voices in the New Media, and other unsettling influences on the right.

Indeed, for all of the "Christie hurts Romney more than Perry" conventional wisdom, if Mitt Romney misses his assigned turn, Christie -- with no extravagant notions about gun rights, definite "Islam is a peaceful religion" credentials, etc. -- is clearly positioned to replace him.


Five Things Conservative Voters Need To Know About Christie

1. Illegal Immigration

The biggest chink in Rick Perry's armor so far has been his record on illegal immigration — specifically, the legislation he passed as governor to allow illegal immigrants to pay the in-state tuition rate when attending state colleges and universities. It's this policy that has led many Republicans to question whether Perry really gets illegal immigration at all.

But Chris Christie is hardly the ally that illegal-immigration foes are looking for. In 2010, Christie told Politico that America needs to come up with a "clear path to citizenship." He didn't say "for illegal immigrants," but since America already has a clear path to citizenship for legal immigrants, that's what he meant. This is an entirely reasonable and mainstream position, but in much of the GOP, they call it "amnesty."

Christie's opponents could also point to the time he insisted that being in the country illegally is not a crime but an "administrative matter." He's right — simply overstaying your visa, for example, can get you deported but can't land you in jail. But to impassioned illegal-immigration warriors, we're not sure the nuance will be appreciated.

Then there's Christie's record on illegal immigration as a U.S. Attorney in New Jersey, the job he held before he became governor. Back in 2008, Bill Tucker, a producer on Lou Dobbs's now-deceased CNN show, could only find thirteen illegal-immigration cases prosecuted by Christie's office between 2002 and 2007. Tucker compared that to the U.S. Attorney's office in Kansas, which, despite a much smaller population, prosecuted 597 cases in the same time period. "This man is an utter embarrassment," Dobbs wailed.

2. Gun Control

In an October 2009 appearance on Sean Hannity's Fox News show, Christie voiced support for some gun-control laws:

HANNITY: Are there any issues where you are, quote, moderate to left as a Republican?

CHRISTIE: Listen, I favor some of the gun-control measures we have in New Jersey.

HANNITY: Bad idea.

CHRISTIE: Listen, we have a densely-populated state, and there's a big hand gun problem in New Jersey. Now, I don't support all the things that the governor supports by a long stretch. But I think on guns — certain gun control issues, looking at it from a law-enforcement perspective, seeing how many police officers were killed, we have an illegal gun problem in New Jersey.

HANNITY: Should every — should every citizen in the state be allowed to get a licensed weapon if they want one?

CHRISTIE: In New Jersey, that's not going to happen, Sean.


CHRISTIE: Listen, the Democratic legislature we have, there's no way those type of things — listen, at the end of the day, what I support are common sense laws that will allow people to protect themselves, but I also am very concerned about the safety of our police officers on the streets, very concerned. And I want to make sure that we don't have an abundance of guns out there.

Again, most people believe in having some "common sense" gun-control laws. But when politicians say "common sense gun-control laws," conservatives hear "seize all weapons and ban hunting and make everyone eat tofu." Compare Christie's even-handedness on guns to Perry, who literally goes jogging with a laser-sighted pistol in case he needs to shoot any coyotes.

When Perry was asked earlier this month whether the supports gun control, he responded, "I am actually for gun control. Use both hands."

3. Climate Change

Rick Perry claims that climate change is a hoax that scientists have concocted as a way to get more funding. Chris Christie, after going back and forth on the issue a bit, said just this August that "climate change is real" and "human activity plays a role in these changes." As for those scheming scientists, Christie said that "when you have over 90 percent of the world’s scientists who have studied this stating that climate change is occurring and that humans play a contributing role, it’s time to defer to the experts."

4. Race to the Top

Race to the Top, the federal program created by President Obama and Education Secretary Arne Duncan in which large grants are offered to states that reform their education systems, shouldn't necessarily be a problem for conservatives. After all, some of the reforms Race to the Top hopes to incentivize, such as measuring teachers based on the success of their students, are goals shared by Republicans. But apparently it's a sin these days to support anything the Obama administration does. In the last GOP debate, Rick Perry proclaimed that "there is one person on this stage that is for Obama's Race to the Top and that is Governor Romney," adding, "[T]hat is not conservative." Mitt Romney then tied himself up in knots trying to deny the accusation. "I'm not sure exactly what he's saying," Romney claimed. "I don't support any particular program that he's describing."

Well, we know Chris Christie supports Race to the Top, because as governor, he applied for its funds. Christie also called Obama a "great ally" in education reform and praised Duncan as an "extraordinary leader on this issue."

5. Muslims

Remember when people pretended, for a little while, that the ground-zero mosque was a slap in the face of the victims of 9/11? In the heat of the controversy, as Republican politicians demagogued the issue to death, Christie claimed that the mosque was "being used as a political football by both parties." He added that while we must "give some measure of deference to the feelings" of 9/11 families, "it would be wrong to so overreact to that, that we paint Islam with a brush of radical Muslim extremists that just want to kill Americans because we are Americans."

And while we're talking about Muslims, Christie came under fire by some anti-Islam hysterics this summer for his appointment of Sohail Mohammed to New Jersey Superior Court. Mohammed, a Muslim lawyer, at one point represented Mohammed Qatanani, a New Jersey imam facing deportation who had alleged past ties to Hamas. The ties were never proven and Qatanani wasn't deported, partly owing to the support he received from Jewish leaders, politicians, and law-enforcement officials like Chris Christie, who called Qatanani "a man of great goodwill." As for the outcry over his nomination of Mohammed, Christie said, "It's just crazy, and I'm tired of dealing with the crazies."

Wild Thing's comment.......

Christie's speech at the Reagan Library was nothing more than a McCain-ish "we need to cross the isle" about "leadership is compromise." Blehhhh

Is anyone else wondering just who is so urgently begging Christie to run? And why?

I liked Christie’s handling of the unions and the budget, BUT that is all there is. Christie is great for NJ, but not great for the country. We need the next prez to come and really shake things up, like getting oil fracking going, drilling in ANWAR, really cutting small bussiness taxes etc. that is not Christie, that is Rick Perry.

One other thing, Romney is not cutting it so they the Republican left and rinos want to send in the second string. Murdoch has been proping up Romney for months, that debate was a set up to destroy Perry (look at the soft ball questions given to Romney, they allowed him to talk way after the bell rang, and everyone on the stage plus the moderators piled on Perry).

Posted by Wild Thing at October 2, 2011 03:47 AM


Christie is a wolf in elephants clothing.

Posted by: BobF at October 2, 2011 08:49 AM


Posted by: Bob A. at October 2, 2011 11:15 AM

Christie is a fat Romney.

Posted by: TomR, armed in Texas at October 2, 2011 12:13 PM

Bob F...Hahahahahaha good one.

Posted by: Wild Thing at October 2, 2011 11:58 PM