New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s keynote address to the Republican National Convention was one of the most widely anticipated, but more in the way of a boxing match – how vicious would Christie, known as a political bully, be?
In fact, the speech sounded more like his audition for 2016 than paving the way for Mitt Romney’s election.
His speech was more about him –his humble beginnings, his strong-willed, immigrant mother who was the “driver” in his family while his father was more the passenger; his philosophy of governance and politics. He first mentioned Romney’s name at some 16 minutes into the speech, near the end.
By then, he had set the tone of what leadership is – interestingly, seeming to contradict the goal of Ann Romney’s speech just moments earlier, where she sought to make Mitt loveable.
“The greatest lesson Mom ever taught me, though, was this one: she told me there would be times in your life when you have to choose between being loved and being respected. She said to always pick being respected, that love without respect was always fleeting — but that respect could grow into real, lasting love.
“Now, of course, she was talking about women.
“But I have learned over time that it applies just as much to leadership. In fact, I think that advice applies to America today more than ever.
“I believe we have become paralyzed by our desire to be loved.”
Forget the fact the exchange came directly out of the :”Alice in Wonderland” movie, where the evil Queen asks her henchmen if it is better to be loved or feared (she decides fear is better), the jab is intended to present Obama as more loveable, and therefore less the leader compared to Mitt.
He said, “There’s only one thing missing now. Leadership. It takes leadership that you don’t get from reading a poll.
“You see, Mr. President – real leaders don’t follow polls. Real leaders change polls.,” said Christie, probably forgetting the criticism of Mitt Romney as a serial flip-flopper who will say anything to achieve his goal.
“That’s what we need to do now. Change polls through the power of our principles. Change polls through the strength of our convictions.
“Our problems are big and the solutions will not be painless. We all must share in the sacrifice. Any leader that tells us differently is simply not telling the truth,” he said.
“Our leaders today have decided it is more important to be popular, to do what is easy and say ‘yes,’ rather than to say no when ‘no’ is what’s required.
“In recent years, we as a country have too often chosen the same path.
“It’s been easy for our leaders to say not us, and not now, in taking on the tough issues. And we’ve stood silently by and let them get away with it.
“But tonight, I say enough.
“I say, together, let’s make a much different choice. Tonight, we are speaking up for ourselves and stepping up.
“We are beginning to do what is right and what is necessary to make our country great again.
“We are demanding that our leaders stop tearing each other down, and work together to take action on the big things facing America.
“Tonight, we choose respect over love.
“We are not afraid. We are taking our country back.”.
But in New Jersey – as well as in Ohio and Wisconsin – where Republican Governors are patting themselves on the back for making the touch choices, it is certain segments of their citizens who have paid the price.
Christie phrased it this way:
They said it was impossible to touch the third rail of politics. To take on the public sector unions and to reform a pension and health benefit system that was headed to bankruptcy.
“With bipartisan leadership we saved taxpayers $132 billion over 30 years and saved retirees their pension.
“We did it.
“They said it was impossible to speak the truth to the teachers union. They were just too powerful. Real teacher tenure reform that demands accountability and ends the guarantee of a job for life regardless of performance would never happen.
“For the first time in 100 years with bipartisan support, we did it.
“The disciples of yesterday’s politics underestimated the will of the people. They assumed our people were selfish; that when told of the difficult problems, tough choices and complicated solutions, they would simply turn their backs, that they would decide it was every man for himself.
“Instead, the people of New Jersey stepped up and shared in the sacrifice.”
The operative word, “bipartisan.”
Now he expects seniors to make the sacrifice.
“We know seniors not only want these programs to survive, but they just as badly want them secured for their grandchildren.
“Seniors are not selfish,” he said
But using the tactic of “false equivocation,” he defines the Democratic position:
“They believe seniors will always put themselves ahead of their grandchildren. So they prey on their vulnerabilities and scare them with misinformation for the cynical purpose of winning the next election.,” Christie said.
“Their plan: whistle a happy tune while driving us off the fiscal cliff, as long as they are behind the wheel of power,:” he said.
Turning next to teachers and public unions he said, “I know this simple truth and I’m not afraid to say it: our ideas are right for America and their ideas have failed America.
“We believe that the majority of teachers in America know our system must be reformed to put students first so that America can compete.
“Teachers don’t teach to become rich or famous. They teach because they love children.
“We believe that we should honor and reward the good ones while doing what’s best for our nation’s future – demanding accountability, higher standards and the best teacher in every classroom.
“They believe the educational establishment will always put themselves ahead of children. That self-interest trumps common sense.
“They believe in pitting unions against teachers, educators against parents, and lobbyists against children.
“They believe in teacher’s unions.
“We believe in teachers,” he said to big cheers and applause..
“We believe that if we tell the people the truth they will act bigger than the pettiness of Washington, D.C.
“We believe it’s possible to forge bipartisan compromise and stand up for conservative principles.
“It’s the power of our ideas, not of our rhetoric, that attracts people to our Party.
“We win when we make it about what needs to be done; we lose when we play along with their game of scaring and dividing.
“For make no mistake, the problems are too big to let the American people lose – the slowest economic recovery in decades, a spiraling out of control deficit, an education system that’s failing to compete in the world.
“It doesn’t matter how we got here. There is enough blame to go around.
“What matters now is what we do.
“I know we can fix our problems.”
“We need politicians to care more about doing something and less about being something,” he said.
Finally, near the end of his address, he named Mitt Romney as the leader he had in mind:
“If you’re willing to hear the truth about the hard road ahead, and the rewards for America that truth will bear, I’m here to begin with you this new era of truth-telling.
“Tonight, we choose the path that has always defined our nation’s history.
“Tonight, we finally and firmly answer the call that so many generations have had the courage to answer before us.
“Tonight, we stand up for Mitt Romney as the next President of the United States.
“And, together, we stand up once again for American greatness.”
Karen Rubin, Long Island Populist Examiner
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