Obama and Christie came together in New Jersey in response to the devastation of Superstorm Sandy last week.
The political press was all atwitter with questions, speculation, and deep analysis about exactly what the meaning was behind the exchange of praise between the Governor and the President.
Was this calculated by Christie to aid his political future in a Democratic leaning state? Was Obama cornering Christie in a politically vulnerable moment to blunt Mitt Romney’s surging campaign?
The truth is far simpler, less meaningful to the partisan political junkies who drive the public narrative, but far more meaningful to everyday Americans.
The truth doesn’t fit the cynical narrative of either the political press or their cousins who run political campaigns.
But, the truth is this: hidden behind all of the manufactured hate speech that has become the staple the American public dialogue are politicians who ran for office because they want to fix things.
The Christie/Obama Jersey Shore Embrace was a more accurate picture of the real relationship between American politicians. Unlike the campaign rhetoric — or Fox’ Republican rant, or MSNBC’s Democratic diatribe, or CNN’s endlessly hysterical self-promotion – this was real.
The dirty little secret is that in real life most politicians generally like each other and their jobs a great deal more than they are allowed to let on. But, the hard partisans have for some time controlled the messaging for both Republicans and Democrats. They loth expressions of love between Democrats and Republicans because they fear what the lovemaking might produce.
For its part, the media is about “now,” not a minute from “now,” but “now.” And, more importantly, conflict is what makes news sell. So, the fact that behind all of the “messaging” and “spin” are real people in public office who are, more often than not, far more alike than they are different; far more committed to common values, than they are to cultural differences; and who share the common bond of having to the best they can at jobs that are ultimately defined by their failures is the best kept secret in politics.
The President and the Governor were simply doing their job. Part of the job was assuring people who have had their lives ripped out from under them that their leaders were united doing their job.
History draws most of its conclusions about the character of leaders from their performance in crisis. For those determined enough to look past the media commentator noise and simply believe their own eyes and ears, there was a peak at two real people doing their real job.
The Governor and the President simply said what they believed and what they believed was important for those impacted by Sandy to hear. They were both anxious to do their job.
That moment has passed from the public view. But behind the scenes, government has to work. The sharpened edges of campaign rhetoric, easily digested and perpetuated by a broken media establishment, cannot govern.
Often, the country would be better served if the press simply reported what politicians have to say. No commentary, analysis, graphs, or charts. Just report the unspun, unexplained news.
The Governor and the President were simply saying what they should say. No ulterior motive or political calculus. Just doing their jobs. Nothing more. Nothing less.