1. If you haven’t watched the Frontline 2-hour election special, the rest of this might not make much sense. It’s really worth watching.
2. I just caught up on the politics of the day. I didn’t want to, but then two pieces came out at almost exactly the same time, a few hours ago, that shifted my perspective. One from Jonathan Chait at New York, and the other by Charles Pierce at Esquire. They both said in different but equally convincing ways that the response to Sandy is political and to view it any other way is wrong.
3. The timing is amazing, obviously.
4. It couldn’t be more dramatic in the context of the election. Because the problem being given to Obama is one he’s perfectly suited for. It’s the one he wanted when he arrived in Washington in 2009 and thought he had been given, in the economic collapse. Unfortunately for all of us, the Republicans responded very negatively to Obama (understatement). This was made very clear in the Frontline report (see #1). I hadn’t understood how the Republicans despised him. It wasn’t just expedient. They actually hated him. I didn’t get this because I didn’t feel that way about Obama. But I certainly have felt that way about other politicians.
- They were right in some ways. Obama believed he was transformative. That was a mistake. He should have tried to make a difference in the context of what Washington was, not what he wished it to be. He was vulnerable and naive, and they took advantage of it.
5. Enter Christie.
6. Unlike the Republicans in Washinton in 2009, he wants to work with Obama. Really wants to, it’s not fake.
7. Why? Because he likes being governor of NJ, and here’s his chance to do that in an incredible way, with all the money of the US govt available to him. All the planets lined up for Gov Christie. And Obama, seeing the opportunity (totally) says oh shit I’m getting the checkbook, and I’m going to spend the money and I got a Republican to play the game with me. “How much do you want?” he asks Christie. He gets to throw a Hail Mary pass, with almost no political cost, certainly none before the election. (I’d love to see Romney complain that Obama was spending too much on New Jersey, esp with the pictures on CNN likely to come in the days ahead. This isn’t Benghazi or even Katrina. Our networks have lots of cameras and reporters in the NYC area. Even Republicans on Wall Street will want the money to be spent now. Look where the flooding happened.)
8. This is what Obama is good at. Getting lots of governors, Republican and Democratic, to work with him. To let him lead and organize them. Use his intellect. Lead the team. (Give them money.) He did it at Harvard. And at Columbia and in high school. This is what he loves.
9. Now here’s the ridiculous part. It’s probably something that Romney would be great at too. It’s exactly the kind of job he seeks out. It’s the way he sees himself. Disaster strikes, and Romney comes in and saves the day — through management, competence, consensus. If this crisis, exactly this crisis, happened in February and Romney was President, he’d be Christie’s buddy too, with the checkbook open ready to fill in whatever number Chris asks him to. But he won’t get to do it, and he knows it, and it must absolutely drive him crazy!
10. Christie will get to rebuild New Jersey with federal money. Before this his state was broke. Now it’ll be rich. Jobs galore. He gets to be hero. And I bet he doesn’t like Romney, on a personal level. And I bet he does like Obama.
11. Watch the Frontline report. 🙂