Founded by Drew Pearson 1932
Barack and his buddy
By Douglas Cohn and Eleanor Clift
WASHINGTON – You couldn’t find two more different personalities. The buttoned-down reserved intellectual, pencil thin and disciplined at the dinner table, and the gregarious Jersey boy, equal parts bully and schmoozer, together on the boardwalk enjoying a moment of solidarity.
For President Obama, you could say it was just what the doctor ordered, a chance to follow up on government intervention he had ordered, and to see that it was working well. An energetic and somewhat slimmed down Governor Chris Christie, R-N.J., grateful for the federal aid Obama sent his way after Hurricane Sandy, was only too happy to oblige another presidential visit.
Conservative radio talk show host, Rush Limbaugh, characterized the relationship between these two politicians as one of master and servant because Obama controls the purse strings, and Christie has to be nice to him. But watching their body language, they looked on top of the world, and no wonder, the photo op is priceless of Obama high-fiving Christie after the governor bested him on his first try in a football throwing arcade game.
Both men come across as magnanimous and bipartisan, and that’s what the voters want from their leaders. Obama won’t be facing another election, but anything that boosts his job approval numbers is money in the bank when he’s trying to navigate tough issues with a stubborn Congress.
State Senator Barbara Buono, the Democrat who is challenging Christie’s bid for a second term, was almost an afterthought. She was included in a group of local officials that Obama met with, but the Eastern media is in such a swoon over Christie that MSNBC host Chris Hays confessed on air that it took an awkwardly long time before his young and super-charged political staff could even come up with her name in a planning session for his show.
Christie’s approval rating is 69 percent in the most recent local polls, down only a few percentage points from a high of 72 in the immediate aftermath of Sandy. He’s regarded as a lock for reelection in November, and his recent decision to undergo surgery to band his stomach in an effort to lose weight has been covered in the context of what it means for 2016.
Will Christie run for president, and if he does, can he navigate the politics of a Republican primary race? Christie says he had the surgery because he turned 50 and wants to be around to see his children become adults, and that he’s not making decisions in the context of politics. Either way, he comes across as authentic, which in politics is a rare attribute. He says what’s on his mind, and when it gets him in trouble, as it often does, he shrugs it off. So far that’s worked for him in the big picture, but when you drill down in Republican politics, it’s not clear that there is a path for him in GOP primaries that in recent elections have been hard-wired on the Right.
One thing is certain, if Christie chooses to run, he won’t be shy about taking on the more ideological figures in his party. He’s not afraid of a smack down with anybody, and he seems to enjoy getting into hot water every now and then. During a call-in show that he does monthly, he responded to a question about whether the president of Rutgers University should step down in the wake of revelations that newly hired athletic director Julie Hermann was guilty of verbally and emotionally abusing players at another university in the 1990s.
“Not my call,” Christie replied. He declined to offer an opinion about Hermann and expressing confidence in Rutgers President Robert Barchi’s judgment. “I’m the governor of New Jersey. I’m not a recruiter for Rutgers University. My point is let Rutgers handle this.” Christie said. Whether you agree with Christie or not, there’s a directness that’s refreshing; he’s more longshoreman than law professor.
© 2013 U.S. News Syndicate, Inc.
Distributed by U.S. News Syndicate, Inc.
END WASHINGTON MERRY-GO-ROUND