For those of you with memories that don’t reach back 11 years — I’m talking to you, President Biden — let me remind you of the heady days of 2012, when President Barack Obama was running for a second term and New Jersey, then led by GOP Gov. Chris Christie, was devastated by Hurricane Sandy.
Obama had won a first term in 2008 based on a theme of “hope and change.” You remember that iconic poster, right? The mellifluous speeches? The way he made “fundamentally transforming the United States of America” sound, you know, practically Kennedyean? (I’m talking JFK and RFK, not the one with trouble navigating bridges.)
That wasn’t 2012. The Republicans ran Mitt Romney, a man so thoroughly mid and needlessly sanguine he looked like he’d just returned from a smiling convention. He couldn’t have been more moderate if he began every speech with “please clap.” His favorite meal was a peanut butter-and-honey sandwich, for heaven’s sake.
Obama and his surrogates — abandoning that “hope and change” theme after voters realized they’d been had — smeared Romney as a cancer-patient-killing, dog-torturing sexist pig. But in the middle of all that reprehensible smearing, Obama visited New Jersey to see the devastation from Hurricane Sandy firsthand, as if this were somehow necessary. And Chris Christie didn’t just come out to greet the man smearing his party’s candidate as an ur-deplorable, he gave him some good ol’ Jersey hugs.Now, he’s chastising fellow Republican presidential contender Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis for not being a bigger idiot than he was with a bigger jerk than Obama was.
According to The Hill, DeSantis decided to pull out of a planned photo op meeting when President Biden visited the state in the wake of Hurricane Idalia on Saturday. According to the outlet, “DeSantis’ office on Friday said the governor didn’t have plans to meet with Biden, saying having the two meeting up could put strain on the state’s disaster response.”
When asked about the lack of a face-to-face meeting, Biden said he’d “been in touch” with DeSantis and was “not disappointed” the two weren’t meeting.
“He may have had other reasons,” the president said. “But he did help us plan this, he sat with FEMA and decided where we should go, where it would be the least disruptive.”
In other words, there was no logistical reason for DeSantis to meet with a potential 2024 presidential rival, especially after the White House had spent much of the 2022 midterm process using the Florida governor as a punching bag. Nothing was lost, except for a moment for Biden to use DeSantis the way Obama used Christie.
But, of course, this provided Christie another prime opportunity to self-destruct — and self-destruct he did, accusing DeSantis of “playing politics” and saying it wasn’t what he would have done. (Oh yes — we know.)
“That’s [DeSantis’s] choice,” Christie said in an interview on Fox News Radio Tuesday, according to The Hill. “I’m not the least bit surprised that is what he chose to do.”
He called the decision not to meet with Biden a failure on the part of the Florida governor.
“You’re the governor of the state, the president of the United States comes and you’re asking … the Congress for significant aid…you should have been there with the president to welcome him,” Christie said.
“Fortunately, [Florida Sen.] Rick Scott … who knows what it means to be governor, showed up and made sure the president saw what he needed to see,” Christie added.
“Your job as governor is to be the tour guide for the president,” he continued. “To make sure the president sees your people, sees the damage, sees the suffering that’s going on and what’s going to be needed to be done to rebuild it.”
No, it’s not! Where, in the constitution of any state of this great nation, does it specifically delegate the job of disaster tour guide to the governor? What in heaven’s name would DeSantis be there for? Because people around Biden can’t read Google Maps and don’t communicate effectively with FEMA?
It’s a photo op, plain and simple. And it’s a photo op with a president that’s smeared DeSantis personally as being one of a select core of “MAGA Republicans” who are “threats against our democracy” and carrying out an “attack of our core values as a country.”