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Attack of the Zombie Planet Baking Blowhards

Steve Russell
11/3/12

I’ve watched in amazement as the right wing alternative reality echo chamber ignores questions about the frequency of deadly weather and whether it’s the result of what Winona LaDuke calls “planet baking,” but finds time to eviscerate New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) for working too closely with President Barack Obama.

I don't like Christie. He's a blowhard and a bully. I might have voted for him anyway, because New Jersey Democrats have been monumentally crooked, but I don't like him.

However, I know sleep deprivation when I see it, and he came by his exhaustion more honestly than the political zombies shuffling towards him to attack his bipartisan moment. When the political zombies cry “Brains! Brains!” they certainly have diagnosed their own problem

Christie has been on television dingy looking from lack of sleep. He appears desperate to help the people who elected him, who are in extreme circumstances. He's going through some really hard stuff, as hard as anything he's faced since being elected, and there are no answers to the suffering of his constituents in the partisan political playbook.

Maybe it was a gut-check for Christie, but I don't think so. I think that when he saw his state devastated, his vision narrowed to what he could do with the power he had and how he could suck in resources from outside the state. I really doubt he was thinking about anything else.

So, many Republican talking heads to the contrary, I don't think Christie's a turncoat. I don't think he's undermining Romney on purpose. I don't think he's playing Election 2016. I think he's playing Great Storm of 2012. The problem is not Chris Christie, the keynote speaker of the Republican Convention and up to now most effective Romney surrogate on the campaign trail, suddenly deciding to undermine Romney.

Romney is undermining himself when he models behavior that is not useful. Collecting canned goods for the Red Cross not only does not help directly, it does harm indirectly. The way the Red Cross would rather distribute food is the same way your local supermarket does, with known quantities of known foods purchased by the case at deep discounts. That way, the problem is only distribution to hungry people, not sorting and storage and transportation from where donations are made. Food drives may feel good, but they are grossly inefficient.

Romney is undermining himself when he gets caught using campaign funds to buy “donations,” handing them out to supporters, and having the supporters hand them back for a photo opportunity. This is optic fakery to compare with running mate Congressman Paul Ryan (R-Wisconsin) visiting a closed soup kitchen to be photographed rinsing dishes that may or may not have been dirty. Having pulled KP myself with similar equipment when I was in the US Air Force, I was amused to see that Ryan failed to take off his wristwatch. This is a mistake not to make with high-pressure hot water, even if the watch claims water resistance.

Chris Christie did not cause these public relations blunders by the Romney campaign. He didn’t even give them the opportunity to blunder. Hurricane Sandy did it.

Before I would blame Chris Christie for doing his job, I would go with Stephen Colbert and point out the partisan nature of hurricanes.

Katrina crippled the Bush presidency, as much as Bush tried to blame “Heckuva Job Brownie” when federal disaster management went south.

Isaac blew the script of the GOP convention, lopping off a whole day and creating a major reshuffle that might have had something to do with the unfortunate decision to use major TV network prime time to feature Clint Eastwood in a profane conversation with a chair.

And now Sandy has given Romney the opportunity to show his true character. Not a bad man and not a stupid man, but a man who has never given much thought to how best to get food to hungry people beyond blaming them for their own hunger and putting the details off on churches.

It’s not Gov. Romney’s fault that he’s never missed a meal, but it is his fault that he’s never thought much about people missing meals as a problem government ought to address.

Mitt Romney’s problem is not Chris Christie. His problem is partisan hurricanes and how they blow away the illusion that we don’t need each other. Don't mistake one blowhard for the other.

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