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Politics, partisanship, and democracy

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7 Responses

  1. Brett Bellmore says:

    He’s clearly taking the right attitude. Outside of a few disreputable areas of the country, one must be alive in order to vote. So keeping people alive, first, must be his priority.

    The election is next Tuesday, there’s time to concern himself with the election over the weekend, once the storm is past.

    This is not a matter of being blase about the election, but rather not being blase about human life.

    Yes, it would be good to have some mechanism in place for when natural disasters make voting impossible. (Suppose the storm had come a few days later?) But the time to work this out is not while the storm waters are still advancing.

  2. mls says:

    I would be surprised if you are consistent with regard to the opinion expressed in this post. Do you scoff when politicians (more specifically, politicians that you like) say things such as “we should not politicize this issue” (which means “this is a bad issue for me so lets not talk about it”) or “my position is not based on politic”s (which means “my position is based on politics but I also want credit for being high-minded”) or “my opponent’s position is political” (which means “I want to focus your attention on my opponent’s motivation, though its probably exactly the same as mine”).

    The difference between these routine statements and what Christie said is that his statement is less obviously self-serving. And while it is true that taken literally it suggests (like the examples cited above) that electoral politics is base and trivial, it could be more charitably interpreted as meaning that the public interest requires that he personally put electoral politics aside and focus exclusively on disaster relief, not that the election is unimportant.

  3. Shag from Brookline says:

    “Leadership” in action, whether by Christie or Obama, differs significantly from the R-MONEY/R-AYN 2012 use of “leadership” over and over and over again.

    While I prefer a fine, aged desert wine, at times it’s any port in a storm, by Christie!

  4. Brett: As you phrased it, I agree. But you said it far better than Christie did. What you said recognizes that the election remains important, but we have a couple of days to get to it. That to me is different than not giving a damn about the election. Of course, he probably deliberately sacrificed clarity so he could drop some semi-profanity and burnish his tough, speak-his-mind image.

    MLS: I scoff anytime I hear *anyone* say those things, because I know it’s all bullshit. So I would be saying the same thing if it had come from Gov. Cuomo. I disagree that what Christie did is less self-serving; Christie is doing all sorts of good for his image and profile (while also, as far as I can tell, actually governing well–the two are not mutually exclusive and I wish we wouldn’t pretend they are).

    In any event, electoral politics are different than *the election* and *the vote*. Even if I accepted the call to rise above partisan politics (I don’t), that is still different than the machinery by which The People vote–that never ceases to be important.

  5. Ken Rhodes says:

    Governors have large staffs, with both general administrators and specialists in different areas. It’s a weak governor who, while putting primary emphasis on the number one priority, can’t also devote some resources (and perhaps even some of his own thoughts) to his other high priorities.

  6. Ken is absolutely right This is a common trope–repeated by many elected officials and candidates (especially non-incumbents) and the media and seemingly accepted by much of the public–that elected officials must always be focused on that one important thing. And if they spend any time on anything else, they somehow are distracted or are not paying attention and thus are not doing their jobs. This was the premise behind McCain’s cancel-the-campaigns-so-we-can-do-the-bailout-legislation move in 2008. And it may be the premise behind Christie’s remarks. To which candidate Obama responded that elected officials must be able to multi-task. But most of the media and the public doesn’t believe that.

  7. Brett Bellmore says:

    Howard, not to put too fine a point on it, politicians are somewhat limited in the complexity of the concepts they dare express, given the media’s habit of “quoting” sentence fragments, and then filling in with paraphrases. (A problem especially exacerbated for Republicans by the fact that most of the journalists are Democrats!) Also given the effective comprehension level of the target audience.

    Christi did well enough given the limits of the genre.

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