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Christie Plays Politics Accusing Others of Playing Politics

August 17, 2010

At the risk of soon having to rename this site to “Ground Zero mosque blog”, here’s another five cents concerning the matter. New Jersey governor Chris Christie was asked to give his opinion at a press conference yesterday and said this (from a “rough transcript” by Maggie Haberman):

[…]

“My principles on this are two-fold. One, that we have to acknowledge, respect and give some measure of deference to the feelings of the family members who lost their loved ones there that day. But it would be wrong to so overreact to that, that we paint Islam with a brush of radical Muslim extremists that just want to kill Americans because we are Americans. But beyond that … I am not going to get into it, because I would be guilty of candidly what I think some Republicans are guilty of, and the president is now, the president is guilty of, of playing politics with this issue, and I simply am not going to do it.”

[…]

First of all, let the French Cowboy say that there’s no doubt that Christie is a great conservative governor for having taken on the Teachers’ Union and actually making the tough choices to bring the fiscal house in order in New Jersey. So, I’m not happy that the first time I mention him here it is to criticise him. But this comment is an attempt to vote ‘present’ just as was Obama’s, although Christie’s more successful with it.

What is it supposed to mean that both parties are “playing politics” with this issue? If your standpoint on the Ground Zero mosque has become a litmus test for politicians, it’s not because they have chosen it to be so. But things have developed this way and the pols cannot stay out of the controversy anymore. Just like Christie himself, they get asked about their opinion on the issue and giving no answer is worse than giving any answer in this case.

Christie is correct, nevertheless, that the issue — as he’s implying — is highly politicised. But that is not the fault of politicians (for a change), it is because the public has strong opinions about it and they want to know their representatives’ opinions.

So, Christie’s view is that, on the one hand, feelings of those who lost loved ones on 9/11 should be respected, and on the other hand, Islam doesn’t equate Muslim terrorism. That’s just as far as even the president got. But the crucial question goes beyond that. Yet Christie thinks that going there means “playing politics”. It makes you wonder how the governor made his budget decisions. “On the one hand we need money for the harbour, on the other we need it for the highway. But choosing between the two would be playing politics.”

As the Politico points out, Christie isn’t entirely unrelated to the Ground Zero mosque question. The Ground Zero site is owned by the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey. I could imagine that Christie wants to avoid getting into a situation in which he feels pressured to actually intervene into the building of the mosque. That would be entirely out of place for a conservative politician who believes in private property rights. But it’s not hard to separate the two: speaking out against the mosque, yet refraining from meddling with the lawful process, would be what you could expect from a guy like Christie.

Ideally, the people behind the Cordoba project would have refrained from planning a mosque on that particular spot in the first place. Since they didn’t — while claiming that they want to improve inter-faith relations — watching the reaction of most Americans and seeing that it does no good, they should have scrapped the plans for this location. This they chose not to do either, and so, with every passing day on which Americans battle over the issue, the Cordoba people are giving proof that their intentions aren’t benevolent at all.

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