Is New Jersey Governor Chris Christie unpatriotic?
Well, if Christie believes what he has been saying about America’s fiscal crisis and his chances of winning the presidency and yet still chooses not to make a White House run in 2012, the short answer is yes.
That sounds harsh, but Christie’s own words box him in.
During his speech at the American Enterprise Institute in February, Christie was blunt in describing what he saw as the fast approaching economic calamity for New Jersey and for America at large.
We are on a path to ruin, he said, if the country doesn’t tackle its fiscal challenges.
“If we’re not honest about these things, on the state level about pensions and benefits and on the federal level about Social Security, Medicare, and Medicaid, we are on the path to ruin,” he explained.
Christie was crystal clear in the speech that these dire fiscal challenges can’t be kicked down the road – they must be tackled now.
“And you know now – I hear people saying – we’re going too fast, we’re going too fast. We need to slow down a little bit,” he said. “Ladies and gentlemen, I think it’s time for some impatience. I think it’s time for some impatience in America.”
Why such impatience? Because time is not on our side, he said.
“Think about these statistics. The deficit stands at $1.6 trillion dollars, the Social Security system is going to be insolvent in 2037, and the Medicare system is expected to run out of money in 2017,” he said. “So I’m impatient? Because I want them to act now. Because I want our healthcare system to be secure for the future. Because I want our retirement system to be secure for the future.”
He continued by noting: “[A]nybody who leads a government, whether it’s in another state or in America, has a defined period of time to act. And now I understand that this political strategy in Washington is all about waiting out until 2012. That’s five years away from Medicare insolvency. What’s the excuse going to be then?”
Waiting until after the 2012 elections to seriously address America’s fiscal problems would be late in acting, according to Christie – and by 2016, the damage may be too hard to reverse.
“We are teetering on the edge of disaster,” he warned.
Yet Christie says he won’t run for president in 2012 – and has said so emphatically and repeatedly. But from his own statements it is clear he believes that the time for action has to be now – and if President Obama won’t act, as he has failed to thus far according to Christie, the president elected in 2012 is seemingly the last man with the opportunity to change course and make the drastic and serious reforms Christie says are necessary to save America.
Christie says he is too busy taking care of New Jersey to run for president, and that he isn’t ready for the job anyway. But no matter what he does to right New Jersey’s ship, it won’t matter all that much if the federal government implodes fiscally. And leaders who have answered history’s call to action have rarely been perfectly “ready” for the task at hand.
Even given what Christie has said about the dire state of America’s fiscal condition and the necessity to act now, it would be excusable for him to follow his pledge not run for president if he thought he couldn’t win or he saw other candidates who were both saying what he was saying and were in a better position to take the White House.
On the latter point, there aren’t too many potential Republican candidates who are considering jumping into the race that are talking about the issues Christie is talking about, at least not as clearly and with a record of action to back it up. A Zogby poll taken in January also showed Christie as the only Republican candidate polling ahead of Obama in a head-to-head match up.
Still, if Christie himself believed that he really couldn’t win – if he though no matter what polls show now, once some of the other positions he holds got more press attention it would be impossible for him to win nationally or get out of a Republican primary – one could still understand his decision not to run for president. But last week, it was reported that Christie said that he not only believes he could beat Obama, he knows it!
“I already know I could win,” Christie told the National Review about his potential to win both the Republican primary and the presidential election in 2012, while once again declaring clearly that he will not run.
I’m not saying that Christie is right on the big issues (though I think he is on the issues he has passionately spoken out on) and I am not necessarily saying that he would be the best candidate to challenge President Obama (though I think he very well could be). What I am suggesting is that if Christie truly believes what he has said about the state of America’s fiscal situation and if he believes he could actually beat Obama, sitting on the sidelines in 2012 and watching the country fiscally implode when he could be the singular force to help change the course of American history for the better would be irresponsible.
Actually, it would be worse than irresponsible – it would be unpatriotic.