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Thursday, January 13, 2011

Rock Star Christie Disses Conservative Base

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie effusively praised President Obama's call for civility in politics in the wake of the weekend Arizona assassination attempt of Congresswoman Gabrielle Giffords in which six people were killed and 13 wounded.

The shooting is a prime example of a situation which can and is being exploited for political purposes. That is, Democrats wishing to deter criticism of Obama Administration policies have a powerful weapon: the ability to impute the most immoral of motives to their opposition. And Republican Christie went along.

Strategically, a presidential contender may want to demonstrate electability in the general election by building broad support among various segments of the electorate. (Think John McCain.). However, one must not forget one's supporters, the base, if you will.

It is hard to oppose a call for civility in any time, but Christie was not asked to do that. Nor did he have to praise the call, which he did. Implicit in such praise is criticism of strident political opposition, whether from former candidates like former Arizona governor Sarah Palin, or well-known talk show hosts like Rush Limbaugh.

Christie did not need to make that criticism. He chose to.

The Saturday attack had nothing to do with political discourse -- but its setting allows for a quick presumption to that effect, and to the exploitation that has followed.  (Machiavelli would approve.)  Christie -- and virtually all other commenters -- owed it to us to say as much, in order to protect innocent people from becoming targets of an imputation of the vilest motives known to mankind.  But Christie did not do that; he failed.

This conscious failure -- this conscious avoidance -- allows for political opposition (on all sides) to continue to be demonized.  This failure subjects anyone engaging in political activities to assume, and suffer, the risk of such reputational damage.

This effect would be going according to plan, if your plan was to diminish the amount of political speech, political opposition and citizen participation in government affairs... as if someone wanted to remove the population's ability to scrutinize the government, or economic leaders, or the legal process.  From that, it logically follows that certain events will soon happen that ordinarily would demand popular scrutiny and sark popular outrage. 

As a lawyer and former U.S. Attorney, Christie can be expected to know the lawyer's primary purpose: to zealously represent his client. One cannot do that -- in fact, one is derelict and possibly committing professional malpractice -- if one allows his opponent to dictate the terms of the debate and the manner and tone of any criticism.

To apply this strategic analysis to a contemporary military strategy context: Such sentiments are of the nature of appeasement, submission, and ultimately, collaboration with the enemy.

Ask the Vichy French how that strategy worked out.

Applying those standards, it seems clear that Christie will not be an effective, or willing, advocate for conservative policies or for reform.

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