Editorial: Bipartisanship in Sandy’s wake

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie hasn’t exactly been the biggest fan of President Barack Obama.

Just last week on Oct. 22, the vocal Obama critic said the president only displayed his arrogance when he said, “You can’t change Washington from the inside,” in September. However, in the face of Superstorm Sandy, Christie is singing a rather different tune.

In a heartfelt exchange with Piers Morgan, Christie said he wasn’t going to “play politics” and when someone asks him an “honest question,” he gives an “honest answer”: Obama’s been “outstanding” in New Jersey.

Obama said he’d “make sure (New Jersey’s residents) are getting the help (they) need as quickly as possible,” reports The Los Angeles Times. Time Magazine said Superstorm Sandy is predicted to cause about $20 billion in property damage and anywhere from $10 to $30 billion in lost business.

In a refreshing show of bipartisanship, Obama and Christie have risen above their party differences for the sake of their constituency’s safety and well-being. Christie could have taken advantage of the state’s adversity to politicize the president’s shortcomings by being nit-picky with minor details, but he has clearly chosen his people over his politics — and there is nothing more commendable.

It would have been a bad political move for the governor if he had used Sandy as a launch pad to air his criticism. Voters don’t care about politics when their family members are missing and when their houses are getting flooded.

It’s certainly uncharacteristic for the Republican Christie to publicly praise Obama. For the staunch conservative who has built a reputation on telling it like it is when it comes to his dissatisfactions with Democrats in power, it probably wasn’t the easiest thing to do.

Former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney was close to announcing Christie as his running mate a few months ago and Christie’s willingness to work with Obama says a lot about his character.

But perhaps it was exactly what we expect our leaders to do. National tragedies have a unifying effect on people and politicians aren’t excluded from that. Superstorm Sandy has been destructive, but it reminds our leaders that the things that unify us are greater than the party lines that divide us.

Obama might be reaping some benefits a few days before the election for his management of the Sandy situation, but his response to New Jersey has been less a political move and more a presidential one. Perhaps taking a note from former President George W. Bush’s missteps with Hurricane Katrina in 2005, Obama has been taking Sandy seriously.

Kudos to Obama for acting quickly and decisively, but more kudos to Christie for holding his people high above his politics.

 

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