Skip to main content
Part of complete coverage from

Chris Christie drops bomb on GOP leaders

By John Avlon, CNN Contributor
updated 11:40 AM EST, Thu January 3, 2013
STORY HIGHLIGHTS
  • Chris Christie blasted Speaker John Boehner over failing to vote on Sandy aid
  • John Avlon: Conservative groups had pressured GOP not to approve the aid
  • He says Christie pointed out long lag in approving aid to the Northeast
  • Avlon: Christie and Rep. Peter King got results, as House agreed to schedule votes

Editor's note: John Avlon is a CNN contributor and senior political columnist for Newsweek and The Daily Beast. He is co-editor of the book "Deadline Artists: America's Greatest Newspaper Columns." He is a regular contributor to "Erin Burnett OutFront" and is a member of the OutFront Political Strike Team. For more political analysis, tune in to "Erin Burnett OutFront" at 7 ET weeknights.

New York (CNN) -- "It's why the American people hate Congress. Unlike the people in Congress, we have actual responsibilities."

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie dropped a bomb on Republican House Speaker John Boehner and Congress for refusing to allow a vote on Hurricane Sandy relief in the final hours of the 112th Congress. It was an instant classic of principled political outrage. It provided a strong dose of what Washington has been missing: blunt, independent leadership.

John Avlon
John Avlon

Christie prosecuted the case by pointing out that hurricane relief had been provided more quickly to others: For victims of Katrina after 10 days and victims of Hurricane Andrew in Florida after 30 days. But residents of the New Jersey and New York coast have been waiting 65 days to date for some relief.

Christie also accurately pointed out that Northeast states such as New Jersey and New York send more to the federal government in taxes than they get back in federal aid, unlike many of the red states represented by conservatives in Congress. The "makers versus takers" narratives fall apart fast when confronted with reality.

Become a fan of CNNOpinion
Stay up to date on the latest opinion, analysis and conversations through social media. Join us at Facebook/CNNOpinion and follow us @CNNOpinion on Twitter. We welcome your ideas and comments.



Pulling no punches, Christie declared: "Last night, the House majority failed most basic test of leadership and they did so with callous disregard to the people of my state. ... It was disappointing and disgusting to watch." He also unapologetically named names: "There's only one group to blame ... the House majority, and their Speaker, John Boehner." He added that the relief bill "just could not overcome the toxic internal politics of the House majority."

But Christie also took the high road in terms of decrying the overall atmosphere of hyperpartisanship in D.C., arguing correctly that "Americans are tired of the palace intrigue and political partisanship of this Congress ... this used to be something that was not political. Disaster relief was something that you didn't play games with."

Politics: Republicans reverse outrage, pledge to back Boehner

Sandy relief funds stalled in Washington

Christie's broadside drew widespread praise on the Web.

One tweet I saw from "Ronnie" in Chicago seemed typical: "His dedication to his State is inspiring. I'm a democrat but damn, Christie's won me over. He has a damn heart."

Christie's fury was backed up by similar straight talk from New York Republican Congressman Peter King of Long Island.

Cleaning crews work in Manhattan's financial district following damage from Superstorm Sandy on Monday, November 12. View photos of New York's recovery. Cleaning crews work in Manhattan's financial district following damage from Superstorm Sandy on Monday, November 12. View photos of New York's recovery.
Aftermath of Superstorm Sandy
HIDE CAPTION
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
>
>>
Photos: Aftermath of Superstorm Sandy Photos: Aftermath of Superstorm Sandy
It was the Republican primary win that wasn't. An initial tally gave the Iowa caucuses to Mitt Romney by eight votes, but the final count awarded the win to Rick Santorum, whose early primary campaign put enormous pressure on the former Massachusetts governor. It was the Republican primary win that wasn't. An initial tally gave the Iowa caucuses to Mitt Romney by eight votes, but the final count awarded the win to Rick Santorum, whose early primary campaign put enormous pressure on the former Massachusetts governor.
Rick Santorum wins Iowa
HIDE CAPTION
<<
<
1
2
3
4
5
6
7
8
9
10
11
12
13
14
15
16
17
18
19
20
>
>>

He blasted House leadership on CNN Wednesday morning: "I would say the Republican Party has said it is the party of family values," he said. "Last night it turned its back on the most essential value of all, and that is to provide food, shelter, clothing and relief for people who have been hit by a natural disaster. And I would say that the Republican Party has turned its back on those people."

This display of independence was a reminder that there is a distinct brand of tough Northeastern Republicans -- people such as Christie, King and Rudy Giuliani -- who don't simply toe the line with party leadership or ideological litmus tests. Largely as a result, they are able to connect with centrists and independent voters and win on Democratic turf. This is a lesson for national Republicans as they look to reach out beyond their base.

Christie and King's principled independence and tough talk against their own party leadership brought results.

Within hours, Boehner and Republican House leadership announced that they would vote for an initial round of Sandy relief on Friday, followed by a vote on the remaining amount on January 15.

Conservative activist groups such as Americans for Prosperity, the Club for Growth and Heritage Action all pressured congressional Republicans to vote against Hurricane Sandy relief, and while they helped block a bill from coming to a vote on New Year's Eve, the swift and unsubtle backlash brought a wise reassessment.

All this is a reminder that straight talk in politics is so rare that it stands out and carries more than its own weight in civic debates. It cuts through the spin and resonates beyond party lines because it is credible and rooted in reality.

Most importantly, it gets results. Boehner's turnaround brought to mind a comment made by Christie during his press conference: "No one is beyond redemption."

Follow @CNNOpinion on Twitter

Join us at Facebook/CNNOpinion

The opinions expressed in this commentary are solely those of John Avlon.

ADVERTISEMENT
Part of complete coverage on
updated 8:37 AM EDT, Tue October 28, 2014
Errol Louis says forced to choose between narrow political advantage and the public good, the governors showed they are willing to take the easy way out over Ebola.
updated 2:03 PM EDT, Mon October 27, 2014
Eric Liu says with our family and friends and neighbors, each one of us must decide what kind of civilization we expect in the United States. It's our responsibility to set tone and standards, with our laws and norms
updated 7:45 AM EDT, Mon October 27, 2014
Sally Kohn says the UNC report highlights how some colleges exploit student athletes while offering little in return
updated 3:04 PM EDT, Sun October 26, 2014
Terrorists don't represent Islam, but Muslims must step up efforts to counter some of the bigotry within the world of Islam, says Fareed Zakaria
updated 9:02 AM EDT, Fri October 24, 2014
Scott Yates says extending Daylight Saving Time could save energy, reduce heart attacks and get you more sleep
updated 8:32 PM EDT, Sun October 26, 2014
Reza Aslan says the interplay between beliefs and actions is a lot more complicated than critics of Islam portray
updated 7:19 AM EDT, Mon October 27, 2014
Julian Zelizer says control of the Senate will be decided by a few close contests
updated 8:12 AM EDT, Fri October 24, 2014
The response of some U.S. institutions that should know better to Ebola has been anything but inspiring, writes Idris Ayodeji Bello.
updated 5:01 PM EDT, Wed October 22, 2014
Paul Callan says the grand jury is the right process to use to decide if charges should be brought against the police officer
updated 12:19 PM EDT, Thu October 23, 2014
Theresa Brown says the Ebola crisis brought nurses into the national conversation on health care. They need to stay there.
updated 6:35 PM EDT, Tue October 21, 2014
Patrick Hornbeck says don't buy the hype: The arguments the Vatican used in its interim report would have virtually guaranteed that same-sex couples remained second class citizens
updated 12:30 PM EDT, Fri October 24, 2014
The Swedes will find sitting on the fence to be increasingly uncomfortable with Putin as next door neighbor, writes Gary Schmitt
updated 12:32 PM EDT, Fri October 24, 2014
The Ottawa shooting pre-empted Malala's appearances in Canada, but her message to young people needs to be spread, writes Frida Ghitis
updated 9:48 PM EDT, Sat October 25, 2014
Paul Begala says Iowa's U.S. Senate candidate, Joni Ernst, told NRA she has right to use gun to defend herself--even from the government. But shooting at officials is not what the Founders had in mind
updated 6:08 PM EDT, Thu October 23, 2014
John Sutter: Why are we so surprised the head of a major international corporation learned another language?
updated 5:54 PM EDT, Thu October 23, 2014
Jason Johnson says Ferguson isn't a downtrodden community rising up against the white oppressor, but it is looking for justice
updated 12:21 PM EDT, Fri October 24, 2014
Sally Kohn says a video of little girls dressed as princesses using the F-word very loudly to condemn sexism is provocative. But is it exploitative?
updated 4:06 PM EDT, Tue October 21, 2014
Timothy Stanley says Lewinsky is shamelessly playing the victim in her affair with Bill Clinton, humiliating Hillary Clinton again and aiding her critics
updated 10:14 AM EDT, Thu October 23, 2014
Imagine being rescued from modern slavery, only to be charged with a crime, writes John Sutter
updated 12:00 PM EDT, Tue October 21, 2014
Tidal flooding used to be a relatively rare occurrence along the East Coast. Not anymore, write Melanie Fitzpatrick and Erika Spanger-Siegfried.
updated 7:35 AM EDT, Tue October 21, 2014
Carol Costello says activists, writers, politicians have begun discussing their abortions. But will that new approach make a difference on an old battleground?
updated 9:12 AM EDT, Tue October 21, 2014
Sigrid Fry-Revere says the National Organ Transplant Act has caused more Americans to die waiting for an organ than died in both World Wars, Korea, Vietnam, Afghanistan and Iraq
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT
ADVERTISEMENT