Video: Christie defended on Snowmageddon by … Larry O’Donnell?

posted at 1:36 pm on January 4, 2011 by Ed Morrissey

Via Jim Geraghty, Larry O’Donnell offers a rare moment of sanity on MSNBC regarding Chris Christie and the Snowmageddon in New Jersey. O’Donnell offered his “rewrite” last night on behalf of those labored under the misapprehension that mayors and governors muscle up and personally direct snow-removal efforts when large storms hit. Indeed, O’Donnell skewers Newark’s Mayor Cory Booker (an up-and-coming Democrat) for his grandstanding during the storm, and suggests that anyone measuring political performance over the personal efforts at snow removal may have been snowed a long time ago:

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Meanwhile another New Jersey politician has pretty much dodged any criticism, Newark Mayor Cory Booker. Here he is shoveling snow a few years ago. According to this official twitter feed during this most recent storm he delivered diapers to someone who couldn’t get out to do shopping and dug out another person’s car. All valiant and thoughtful and considerate things to do but you don’t need a mayor to do those things. All mayors and governors can really do during a blizzard is pretend to be helpful. They know nothing more about snow removal than you or I do. And if you vote for them on the basis of what they pretend to know about snow removal, then you have been played for a fool.

Cities and states above the Mason Dixon Line have professionals on their payrolls who think about snow removal all the time. They think about it in August. They look forward to it. They know what to do when it happens. They don’t panic when snow falls. They just go do their jobs, which is why as Governor Christie correctly noted 95% of all the state roads were cleared, absolutely cleared, by Tuesday morning, which is exactly how long it would have taken if Chris Christie was in New Jersey posing for phony photo ops on snowplows like some of his predecessors have done.

So, tonight’s rewrite is not for Government [sic] Chris Christie who kept his promise to his family at absolutely no cost to his state. It’s for the people attacking him for not doing any of the ineffectual phony stunts that they seem so impressed by when other politicians summon the media to watch them shoveling snow.

I’d only quibble on a couple of points to this eminently sensible (as Jim rightly calls it) commentary. First, while Booker certainly had some photo ops in mind while delivering diapers, it shouldn’t entirely negate the effort he made to show some solidarity with snowbound Newark residents during the crisis. Anyone doubting the basic requirement in leadership to first show up only needs to consider the radically different optics between George Bush’s megaphone-carrying appearance in New York City in the days after 9/11 to his flyover of New Orleans after Katrina, which Bush admitted was perhaps one of his biggest mistakes in his presidency. It may not mean much in practical terms, but Booker’s public presence showed an engagement that enhanced the sense that the crisis was being handled properly.  I’m not sure it deserves as much scorn as O’Donnell gives it.

Also, while I agree that the wonders of modern communication means that an executive is never completely disconnected from his job, there is still room for criticism with Christie’s vacationing.  No, his presence wouldn’t have meant another shovel on the sidewalks, but he is the state’s executive.  He and his lieutenant governor Kim Guadagno were elected by statewide popular vote for the two statewide executive positions, while the Senate leader only won a seat in the legislature in his district.  One of those two should be “on duty” and present just in case a crisis hits.  It’s poor executive practice to have both responsible officials out of the state on personal business at the same time while leaving executive power in the hands of someone whom voters didn’t select for those responsibilities, unless a genuine emergency exists.  Guadagno’s situation seems closer to an “emergency” than a family vacation at DisneyWorld, which could have been rescheduled — and shouldn’t have been scheduled at the same time in the first place.


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If the mayor has to go out there and shovel it himself, that should tell you about the competence and effectiveness of the organization below him … or the lack thereof.

crosspatch on January 4, 2011 at 1:40 PM

Well, I think he was just really defending NY. Just my take, though.

AnninCA on January 4, 2011 at 1:41 PM

Dear media assault squad, there are differences between mayors and governors. discuss.

joeindc44 on January 4, 2011 at 1:42 PM

I live in NJ and the only people who care about this are the teachers and the NJEA (teachers union). And they don’t really care about this they just are using it as a way to try and hurt Christie since they hate him so much. Absolutely no one else gives a crap that he was out of the state during the storm. The storm wasn’t all that bad to begin with. Also, the roads were cleared just fine without him here. This is no big deal at all…not even a little bit.

keepinitreal on January 4, 2011 at 1:43 PM

Well I know when MY street isn’t cleared, the Governor’s office is the first one I think of calling. Right?

JamesLee on January 4, 2011 at 1:43 PM

Cities and states above the Mason Dixon Line have professionals … who think about snow removal all the time. … They know what to do when it happens.

I wouldn’t go that far, Larry.

MassVictim on January 4, 2011 at 1:45 PM

I need to call Bill Haslam. He needs to know he is responsible for digging out my car the next time it snows. I don’t think he knows this.

ladyingray on January 4, 2011 at 1:47 PM

I think he’s right. There’s a lot of righteous rage that’s being directed at the wrong target.

Dark-Star on January 4, 2011 at 1:52 PM

I think he’s right. There’s a lot of righteous rage that’s being directed at the wrong target.

Dark-Star on January 4, 2011 at 1:52 PM

Would it be crass to suggest that they’re aiming at the right targer, but Christie is getting in the way?

Y’know… fat joke and whatnot.

…do I hear crickets, in January?

Jeddite on January 4, 2011 at 1:54 PM

While your commentary is valid, I actually agree with the MSNBC guy for the most part. (I never thought that I would say those words. LOL!)

Theophile on January 4, 2011 at 1:54 PM

OT: Trump says he’s running for President?

UltimateBob on January 4, 2011 at 1:55 PM

By my estimate Cory Booker’s antics literally stole the opportunity of doing half-a$$ed shoveling jobs by at least a dozen adolescent fatties, so earning money they could spend on Happy Meals and, thus, stimulating the economy.

Reprehensible.

Dusty on January 4, 2011 at 1:56 PM

Jeddite on January 4, 2011 at 1:54 PM

*golf clap*

Dark-Star on January 4, 2011 at 1:57 PM

keepinitreal on January 4, 2011 at 1:43 PM

I agree. The Morning Joe tried to stir this pot. Didn’t work.

NY is the real snow story. Mainly because it wasn’t really even a record-breaking snowstorm.

20 inches. The last one was 26.

And people did die there.

AnninCA on January 4, 2011 at 2:00 PM

Interestingly, I’ve been noticing on this site that on Christie posts, the Google ads pop up with a “Where in the World is Gov. Chris Christie?” from a group called, “boldprogressives.org.”

Just sayin, new ownership.

Good Lt on January 4, 2011 at 2:02 PM

I agree. Both should not have scheduled vacations at the same time. That was irresponsible. But I have to give kudos to Larry, for setting things straight, and whether we agree on this or not, calling it out as he sees it.

I personally do think in light of the criticism Cristie was taking, the Mayor used that to his advantage. He used it to take shots at Cristie. Yes…he did some good deeds, but they weren’t selfless. Which makes them disingenous. It was all for scoring political points.

capejasmine on January 4, 2011 at 2:03 PM

I like O’Donnell most of the time. He’s overtly socialist, and it’s nice to see that he’s also terribly pragmatic.

He doesn’t BS quite as much as the others do on that network.

AnninCA on January 4, 2011 at 2:03 PM

I live in NJ and the only people who care about this are the teachers and the NJEA (teachers union). And they don’t really care about this they just are using it as a way to try and hurt Christie since they hate him so much. Absolutely no one else gives a crap that he was out of the state during the storm. The storm wasn’t all that bad to begin with. Also, the roads were cleared just fine without him here. This is no big deal at all…not even a little bit.

keepinitreal on January 4, 2011 at 1:43 PM

Me, too. And it isn’t a big deal.

NJ Red on January 4, 2011 at 2:04 PM

there is still room for criticism with Christie’s vacationing. No, his presence wouldn’t have meant another shovel on the sidewalks, but he is the state’s executive. He and his lieutenant governor Kim Guadagno were elected by statewide popular vote for the two statewide executive positions, while the Senate leader only won a seat in the legislature in his district. One of those two should be “on duty” and present just in case a crisis hits.

I don’t agree with this at all.
I can’t believe the lengths you take sometimes to make sure the Republican gets criticized.

(ps. I grew up in a northern state and I can’t remember a GOVERNOR ever getting all hyper involved during a blizzard)

MayBee on January 4, 2011 at 2:04 PM

capejasmine on January 4, 2011 at 2:03 PM

A good administrator has protocols in place that work. It would seem that NJ has just that.

And it worked. So where’s the beef?

AnninCA on January 4, 2011 at 2:04 PM

People just gotta bitch. Ya know?

Vince on January 4, 2011 at 2:05 PM

I thought that the left just lobbed a super-weak volley at Christie. It was a bit like NK launching nuclear test volley’s. Fell way short.

But I’m not surprised to see the GOPer’s also lobbing the same ones at him. He’s being “Palinized.”

Soon, he’ll be “radioactive” too. *haha

AnninCA on January 4, 2011 at 2:06 PM

Sound and fury signifying nothing.

Vince on January 4, 2011 at 2:09 PM

I don’t agree with this at all.
I can’t believe the lengths you take sometimes to make sure the Republican gets criticized.

(ps. I grew up in a northern state and I can’t remember a GOVERNOR ever getting all hyper involved during a blizzard)

MayBee on January 4, 2011 at 2:04 PM

I can’t believe it either. Last week it was “I don’t think the unions in NYC would pull a slowdown”, now this?

And how was the guy supposed to get home if he decided to do so, with all of the airports closed?

Knucklehead on January 4, 2011 at 2:11 PM

For some reason I don’t remember these people questioning why Obama didn’t fly back from his Christmas vacation last year when there was a Terrorist Attack on the United States. The DNI didn’t even come off the slopes.

But Christie was supposed to fly into a closed airport to tell the Unions to go to work? I guess the Democrat he left in charge was too incompetent to handle it.

barnone on January 4, 2011 at 2:17 PM

It’s poor executive practice to have both responsible officials out of the state on personal business at the same time while leaving executive power in the hands of someone whom voters didn’t select for those responsibilities, unless a genuine emergency exists.

Yeah, but it happens. And in any case, I’m sure Christie called up his guy and asked “Is there anything you need from me?”

Which is the same freakin’ phone call he’d have made had he been in Trenton…or Newark, for that matter.

I R A Darth Aggie on January 4, 2011 at 2:18 PM

Here’s what’s good about what Cory Booker did: He set an example.

Years ago, when I lived in Western Michigan, a blizzard hit much of the state. My city, because it was fiscally responsible, had the means to plow us out. But Detroit didn’t manage to get plows running, and schools had to be closed. The school district asked for volunteers to come out and shovel so the kids could get to school. Nobody came. Mind you, people were not at work because their streets weren’t plowed. They were home, inside, refusing to shovel their little portion of the street.

Cory Booker isn’t superman. He got out of his house with a shovel, and he helped. I hope he inspired others. I applaud him.

MayBee on January 4, 2011 at 2:18 PM

For crying out loud! Let’s go to the top – where was “o” when he should have been out with shovel? It makes about as much sense!

Bambi on January 4, 2011 at 2:19 PM

I don’t see how being physically present in the State makes any difference. He either gets info while sitting at a desk in the Statehouse or at home in NJ or while riding Space Mountain in FL. With modern communications, it makes little difference. At least he wasn’t charging 2 million to the taxpayers for his vacation like the Washington, D.C. dude is. I’m guessing if the NJ snow removers tried the same crap the NYC removers did, Old Big Boy would have jetted back and plowed some people under the snow himself.

Laddy on January 4, 2011 at 2:19 PM

Imagine if Ray Nagin had picked himself off the floor and waded through some water to show people weren’t really shooting indiscriminately. Imagine if he’d wandered to the local WalMart to see if there was food there that they’d consider donating.

MayBee on January 4, 2011 at 2:23 PM

Another point, Christie pointed out that the main state roads were cleared, the local county and township roads are the responsibility of local mayors. Christie didn’t drop the ball, the locals did.

I rarely agree with socialist O’Donnell, but he’s spot on.

Kini on January 4, 2011 at 2:29 PM

It’s a good thing to see the same criticisms of public officials and local and state bureaucracies are still in place just like during Katrina…

… Oh, wait!

Seven Percent Solution on January 4, 2011 at 2:31 PM

MayBee on January 4, 2011 at 2:23 PM

Great minds and all…

Seven Percent Solution on January 4, 2011 at 2:32 PM

Imagine if he’d wandered to the local WalMart to see if there was food there that they’d consider donating.

MayBee on January 4, 2011 at 2:23 PM

Imagine if he actually drove one of those school buses,

Kini on January 4, 2011 at 2:37 PM

Ha!

MayBee on January 4, 2011 at 2:44 PM

I notice those ‘bold progressive’ chumps have bought ad space here.

JammieWearingFool on January 4, 2011 at 2:51 PM

Bush’s fault.

Ronnie on January 4, 2011 at 3:35 PM

I’d like to check O’Donnell’s comments during Hurricane Katrina and see how consistent he is about local vs. municipal vs. federal.

princetrumpet on January 4, 2011 at 4:42 PM

Didn’t the con trails from AF-1 seed the clouds that brought this snow as our glorious leader left for Hawaii?

I received an email last winter, it was a home built mega-snowblower. Fully functional, with all safety features, powered by a 502 cubic inch Chevy big block. The guy builds and sells them, perhaps Christie should buy one, with personal money, pull it out for the next big snow. It would be a great STFU moment for him…

M-14 2go on January 4, 2011 at 7:29 PM

If you use Katrina as the template, the governor of a state is absolutely NOT to be held accountable for emergency relief, a mayor either. That responsibility for that immediately defaults to the President and the federal government.

TedInATL on January 4, 2011 at 7:30 PM

It’s poor executive practice to have both responsible officials out of the state on personal business at the same time while leaving executive power in the hands of someone whom voters didn’t select for those responsibilities, unless a genuine emergency exists. Guadagno’s situation seems closer to an “emergency” than a family vacation at DisneyWorld, which could have been rescheduled — and shouldn’t have been scheduled at the same time in the first place.

I agree with this, it’s what I was thinking when I heard that both executives of the state were gone at the same, that is absurd scheduling.

At the same time, O’Donnel is right and people need to get off Christie’s back here. His being there would have solved nothing and in fact, the state roads were clear according to Christie which is what he has the most control over.

Hyper partisans in the media and the left (one in the same) want to deflect attention away from New Tork and onto to Christie to knock him down a notch or two, that’s all this is. The real problem here is how pathetically dependant people are on their government in a moment on crisis. YES, the government should do what they take our money to do, but at the same time people need to open up their eyes and realize that Booker shoveling out some ladies car or some Governor taking pictures on the back of a snowplow, looking concerned, is NOT a job well done. Your money is going to waste, public unions are soaking it up for their pensions, rise up and do something about it instead of complaining about where Chris Christie was udring a snow storm which didn’t even cripple New Jersey the way it did New York City.

Daemonocracy on January 4, 2011 at 8:22 PM

Wait… what happened to the real Larry O’Donnell?

CVMA-Dredd on January 4, 2011 at 8:54 PM

Being from Canada, I laughed out loud when he was talking about people on the payroll who only think about snow removal because it is so very very true. Where I grew up we also had people who only thought about flooding too, and you know what? The only political photo-ops we ever had during blizzards or floods were from federal politicians flying in from out east.

Good on Christie for doing the *important* thing and being with his family.

Canucker on January 4, 2011 at 9:20 PM