By Melissa Harris-Perry – MSNBC
Long after images of Hurricane Sandy’s devastation vanished from our television screens, one very visible–and very vocal–reminder has made it impossible to ignore the ongoing struggles of Sandy’s victims: New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.
His advocacy for New Jersey’s recovery effort has extended his 15 minutes of national fame far beyond his speech at the Republican National Convention. In fact, his popularity may even have him thinking he can stretch that 15 minutes all the way to the White House in 2016.
But let’s not get too hasty. Because in my open letter this week, I’d like to remind the governor of a few things that may make him–and American voters–want to think twice.
Dear Gov. Christie,
It’s me, Melissa. Well, there’s no denying it–you are definitely having a moment. Since last year when you put partisan politics aside to praise President Obama’s disaster response to the recent kick in the pants you gave House Speaker John Boehner, it seems you’ve become the voice of America’s frustration with Washington. And as a resident of a city that knows all too well what it means to rebuild in the wake of catastrophe, I know the people of New Jersey are grateful to have you as a champion.
You can tell by your 73% approval rating. And even more impressive, as a Republican governor of a blue state, you’ve managed to get 62% approval among Democrats, 70% among women, and 69% among people of color. That makes you almost a shoo-in for re-election this year. No doubt all that love has got you feeling like it’s all aboard the Christie train–next stop, the White House!
But not so fast. I’m going to need you to pump your brakes.
Your ability to lead people through the aftermath of a disaster does not qualify you to be president of the United States. Just ask Rudy Giuliani.
Oh, that Time Magazine cover line certainly had it right–you are the master of disaster. It’s just that the disaster struck long before Hurricane Sandy came ashore. Let’s hope you do a better job presiding over the state’s storm recovery than you’ve done presiding over New Jersey’s economic recovery. Because New Jersey’s economic performance ranked 47th in the nation in 2011. And right now, the [New Jersey] unemployment rate is 9.6%–surpassing the national rate by almost 2%.
It seems, governor, that residents are still waiting on that so-called “Jersey Comeback” you claimed had already begun.