Republican Governor Learns Downside of Being Part of Republican Party

Let our journalists help you make sense of the noise: Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily newsletter and get a recap of news that matters.

New Jersey governor Chris Christie delivered one of his trademark rants today, this time aimed at House Republicans who declined to hold a vote on an aid bill that would give his state lots of money to deal with the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. The obvious point to make about this is that maybe it serves Christie right. He certainly has no reluctance to mock other people who want money, after all, so all that’s happening here is a Republican governor getting a faceful of his own Republican medicine.

But Dave Weigel points out another interesting tidbit. The House Republican leadership apparently tried to pass the bill by engaging in a bit of vote-counting strategery, splitting the aid bill into two parts that they hoped could pass with two different majorities:

But instead of explaining this, Republicans allowed a familiar narrative — oh, the bill’s full of pork and waste! — to creep out. Christie mocks the narrative in the single boldest part of this rant. The “pork,” he points out, was $600 million in a total $60 billion package — one percent of the total. The Republicans who got angry about that, he says, are dupes. “Those guys should spend a little more time reading the information we send and a little less time reading the talking points sent by their staff.”

That’s quite an ask. Making fun of waste in an omnibus bill is one of the GOP’s most effective tactics. It was key to the strategy against the 2009 stimulus bill, making the “porkiest” parts of the bill famous, then forcing Democrats to denounce them, creating an impression of disarray and shame. And here Christie admits that it’s a sort of cheap argument, not worth sinking legislation over.

Republicans rail endlessly about trivial expenditures, mostly as a way of avoiding putting their money where their mouths are. Over the past two weeks, reporters have routinely asked John Boehner for details about what cuts he wanted as part of a fiscal cliff deal, and he just as routinely refused to answer. Mitt Romney did the same thing over an entire campaign. The problem is that real cuts are politically unpopular, and they know it. So instead they ban earmarks, complain about foreign aid, give out silly awards for allegedly silly research projects, and kvetch about “waste, fraud, and abuse.” That last item has been abused so often that it’s little more than an inside-the-Beltway joke these days.

In any case, Christie is now being hoist by the same tea-party petard that’s responsible for making him famous in the first place. Ditto for the House Republican leadership, which tried to figure out a clever way to pass the bill, but ended up a victim to the same kind of anti-pork nonsense that they usually save for Democrats. Live by the sword, die by the sword.

POSTSCRIPT: Speaking of all this, I decided to look up “hoist by his own petard” for the first time today. I had always vaguely assumed that a petard was something like a belt or a pair of suspenders. But no: it’s an explosive device. If you are hoist by your own petard, it means your bomb went off in your face and blew you skyward. You learn something new every day.

SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

payment methods

SIX TRUTHS

Reclaiming power from those who abuse it often starts with telling the truth. And in "This Is How Authoritarians Get Defeated," MoJo's Monika Bauerlein unpacks six truths to remember during the homestretch of an election where democracy, truth, and decency are on the line.

Truth #1: The chaos is the point.

Truth #2: Team Reality is bigger than it seems.

Truth #3: Facebook owns this.

Truth #4: When we go to work, we're in the fight.

Truth #5: It's about minority rule.

Truth #6: The only thing that can save us is…us.

Please take a moment to see how all these truths add up, because what happens in the weeks and months ahead will reverberate for at least a generation and we better be prepared.

And if you think journalism like Mother Jones'—that calls it like it is, that will never acquiesce to power, that looks where others don't—can help guide us through this historic, high-stakes moment, and you're able to right now, please help us reach our $350,000 goal by October 31 with a donation today. It's all hands on deck for democracy.

payment methods

We Recommend

Latest

Sign up for our free newsletter

Subscribe to the Mother Jones Daily to have our top stories delivered directly to your inbox.

Get our award-winning magazine

Save big on a full year of investigations, ideas, and insights.

Subscribe

Support our journalism

Help Mother Jones' reporters dig deep with a tax-deductible donation.

Donate