Time Magazine’s Zeke Miller tweeted something interesting yesterday:
Christie says Obama’s unwillingness to discuss faith’s impact on his life publicly raises questions about what he believes on other things
— Zeke Miller (@ZekeJMiller) October 30, 2015
If, like me, you’ve kept track of the surly, bullying Christie, your eyebrows immediately went up and you said, or at least thought, “Oh really?”
After all, in 2010 Christie announced,
“When you guys ask me questions, I’m going to answer them directly, straightly, bluntly, and nobody in New Jersey is going to have to wonder where I am on an issue. I think they’ve had enough of politicians who make them wonder … They make them wonder so they got an escape hatch. So they have an escape hatch. And I’m not interested in an escape hatch.”
Yet, when push comes to shove, Christie is the guy, of course, who thinks its none of your business what he thinks or believes. Like when asked if he “believes” in evolution or creationism back in May of 2011, just a year after bragging he would answer all questions, he ran right for the escape hatch:
“That’s not of your business, that’s my personal view — none of your business.”
And this isn’t the first or only time Christie has taken the “none of your business” stance. In 2011, he told a constituent – and not to put too fine a point on it, a voter – the same thing in response to a fair and honest question about education funding:
In 2014, as MSNBC’s Steve Benen pointed out, it was the escape hatch again: “The New Jersey governor was eager to condemn President Obama for working through a counter-terrorism policy in Syria. Asked what he’d do differently, Christie said he didn’t want to talk about it.”
And, Benen noted, “He won’t even reiterate support for public remarks he’s already made. Why? Because he says so.”
Why does Chris Christie – a public figure and an elected official like President Obama, get to have personal views he doesn’t have to share with others? You can be we are not allowed to question Christie’s beliefs, even if we can figure out what they are.
Obama, on the other hand, has been pretty open about what he believes. When his thinking changed on Marriage Equality, we were part of that process. His thinking evolved right in front of the American public and was about as transparent as can be. He was ready and willing to share it with us, both before, during, and after.
At a speech he gave in 2006, Obama said he’d “like to talk about the connection between religion and politics and perhaps offer some thoughts about how we can sort through some of the often bitter arguments that we’ve been seeing over the last several years.”
I do so because, as you all know, we can affirm the importance of poverty in the Bible; and we can raise up and pass out this Covenant for a New America. We can talk to the press, and we can discuss the religious call to address poverty and environmental stewardship all we want, but it won’t have an impact unless we tackle head-on the mutual suspicion that sometimes exists between religious America and secular America.
Chris Christie is a Catholic, and by all accounts he doesn’t agree with Catholic doctrine 100% of the time. Far from tackling things head-on, it is tough to tell exactly what he believes, because as comedian Jimmy Dore says of the New Jersey governor, “He’s duplicitous, he’s hypocritical, he’s self-serving, he’s every horrible thing you hate about a politician.”
In other words, he’s not one to talk about Obama. In 2012 he vetoed Marriage Equality legislation in New Jersey, but he has said that he doesn’t think being gay is a sin or even a choice, which is not what his religion teaches.
In a sit down with Laura Ingraham last year, he told the conservative radio host and author that he would never back down for his beliefs, that he would fight for them. Which is great, if we can figure out what they are.
The Wall Street Journal‘s Lisa Fleisher claimed in 2011, “For the most part, Christie’s message has been budgetary, not ideological” but this was patently untrue then and remains so now. There is nothing not ideological about Christie’s stance on school funding, or on abortion.
He says he is against abortion. He told Ingraham he ran as an anti-abortion candidate and “I care about fighting the fights that are worth fighting. People make certain assumptions because you’re from New Jersey. What they should do is look at my record.”
So he cares about the fights that are worth fighting, but he won’t tell us up front if he thinks a fight is worth fighting – like evolution. He says states should decide but whatever he wants us to believe, it is important what he believes. And if it isn’t, why is it important to know what Obama believes?
He told Ingraham, “You don’t change your mind,” which is maybe a stab at Obama for changing his, but I wouldn’t give a hoot in hell for a man who was incapable of changing his mind in the face of new information. There is nothing praiseworthy in being a hidebound ideologue and with his thinking on “sin” he wants us to believe he is not one of those, apparently, yet in other ways, that’s exactly how he behaves, and what he sounds like.
At the Faith & Freedom Coalition conference in 2014 Christie told the faithful he was pro-life:
What we did in the campaign was to speak very frankly to people about the sanctity of life, and how I believe that every life is a gift from God that’s precious and must be protected. I told people from New Jersey that I knew many who would consider voting for me disagreed with me on this issue, but that they had a right to know what’s in my heart because when you know what’s in someone’s heart, you have a window into how they’ll lead.
Even he admitted, right there in front of God and everybody, how important it is to know what’s in someone’s heart. So why is it he will share this bit of his heart, and not his thinking on evolution vs. creationism?
When Chris Christie comes clean about where he stands, about his own core beliefs, then he will be in a position to question the beliefs of others. That day will never come, of course, because as the comedian says, he is duplicitous and self-serving and can be trusted any further than he can be thrown.
Obama and Christie are a study in contrasts. One is intelligent, well-spoken, and even-tempered. The other is rude, bullying, and hot-headed. If there is a moral high ground in politics, it is not to be found in New Jersey, and certainly nowhere in the vicinity of the New Jersey governor.
And I won’t even bother reminding the Catholic Christie of what Jesus said about casting the first stone because if I asked him if he remembered that passage, he would just tell me it’s none of my business.