Christie Continues to Defend Obama’s Sandy Response While Discontent with Feds Grows in Affected Areas
Take a deep breath, Save Jerseyans, but Governor Chris Christie appeared on this morning’s “Morning Joe” program on MSNBC and continued his full-throated defense of President Barack Obama’s response to Hurricane Sandy.
“The president has kept every promise he’s made,” said Christie. “I think he’s done a good job. He kept his word.”
Whether that’s true or not depends upon whom you ask, doesn’t it?
Tens of thousands of Americans are still homeless in the New Jersey and New York region several months after the so-called superstorm left our shores. I recently pointed out here at Save Jersey how only a fraction of the funds that were supposed to be released by now under the Sandy federal relief package have been disbursed; meanwhile, while the White House cancels tours and clogs airport traffic to score sequestration political points, the President continues to waste enough money on personal vacations to rebuild every damaged boardwalk several times over. Some examples are even more egregious; federal aid was denied to Ocean Grove’s boardwalk on ideological grounds!
Don’t think it’s going unnoticed. Among those most closely affected by Sandy, dissatisfaction with the government’s general response is growing as weeks turn into months and key problems remain entirely unaddressed by federal officials…
The Christie Administration wasn’t caught flat-footed after today’s MSNBC appearance. Our friend Dan Cirucci masterfully explained in the days following Sandy how Chris Christie checked his crisis management boxes. The front office was anticipating negative Drudge headlines and conservative scrutiny. Its media shop was ready to defend the feds with big numbers to back up their claims of a productive relationship since last Halloween that, while unfinished do to the historic scope of Sandy’s destruction, remains on the right track six months later.
$3.2 billion in insurance payouts. $1 billion earmarked for the Army Corps of Engineers. $$718 million for SBA disaster loans and $384 million in FEMA grants.
But critics point to problems with the federal government’s response that have left thousands of homeowners in worse positions than if their homes had been incinerated or washed away completely; a group unambiguously named Stop FEMA Now, organized to protest the federal response and, specifically, the controversial new FEMA flood maps, is even gaining the support of GOP legislators. “We can’t let the federal government trample over us,’’ said Ocean County’s Asw. DiAnne Gove. FEMA is directly contributing to displacement, folks. Legislators are finally cluing in.
They’re not alone. A new poll from Patrick Murray’s Monmouth Polling Institute out Monday shows satisfaction with the Sandy recovery effort in the hardest hit regions having dropped from 75% in February to 69% today. Support for recovery efforts has ticked up slightly elsewhere in the Garden State.
Cited problems are largely not of the Governor’s making. Trenton Democrats haven’t been helpful, focusing on straw men like the manufactured Ashbritt controversy rather than address the real, painfully obvious cracks in our country’s post-federalism governmental culture exposed by the Sandy aftermath. We’ve come to expect such small-mindedness from that caucus.
My concern is one of omission; with our side’s refusal to challenge the big government/mainstream media narrative, Save Jerseyans.
The disconnect described in this post between post-Sandy rhetoric and the “whole” truth of the situation is obviously attributable to the mainstream media’s eagerness to report an Obama success story in the final hours of Election 2012, a perfect contrast to the prevailing narrative after Katrina; more fundamentally, liberal opinion leaders were eager for a government success story after two electoral cycles dominated by the tea party storyline. And I’m sorry to say it, but again, many Republican politicians were all too eager to jump on the bandwagon (or were simply too afraid to make the right arguments as the cultural lynch mob demanded a major response). Political expediency knows no party.
So what is the whole truth? State and local officials are certainly working overtime to assure out-of-state tourists that the Jersey Shore is indeed “open for business” with only weeks to go before Memorial Day Weekend. Here’s what I do know: the residents and small businesses of the Jersey Shore and Route 1 corridors would be in even better shape today had our leaders relied on limited government solutions in the wake of this horrible storm rather than invest in an artificial air of federal competency that was, indeed, artificial.
Honesty is also always the best policy in the wake of a disaster, folks. Projecting confidence and optimism is a good thing. Ignoring or whitewashing the clear flaws in the federal response is 100% counterproductive. The real problem, of course, is that that’s not what the “Morning Joe” crowd wants to hear. Breaking through remains conservatism’s fundamental challenge in saving America, New Jersey, and Shore residents as we forge ahead. Resignation and acceptance of a faulty premise is not an option…