One of the enduring political images of the Sandy disaster in New Jersey was Chris Christie warmly welcoming Barack Obama to oversee damage in Brigantine just a few days before the 2012 presidential
As politics returned to normal, some on the right were aghast that the Republican governor would be nice to Obama. Perhaps, they would have been happier if Christie took a swing at the president.
Now it is almost eight years later and Phil Murphy was asked today if he was experiencing his own “Christie-Obama” moment.
Over the last few days, the president has lashed out at Democratic governors in Washington and Michigan, but he has called Murphy a great guy, or words to that effect.
Coming in the midst of what was a gloomy briefing – 3,347 more cases; 37 additional deaths overnight – Murphy seemed to crack a bit of a smile.
His response was that as governor, he must deal with the “leaders in place,” not the ones he wants. And right now, those in place are Donald Trump and Mike Pence.
Murphy also expressed gratitude that the federal government will ship New Jersey 300 ventilators, but said more are needed.
In another coronavirus-related matter with a decidedly political bent, the governor said gun shops in the state will be allowed to reopen by apointment only. This is according to federal guidelines the state
received over the weekend.
Some Republicans have been hammering away at this issue, suggesting that the safety of residents was at risk if gun shops were closed as “non-essential businesses.”
More than once last week, the governor defended closing gun shops amid questioning from a representative of a Second Amendment advocacy group.
Murphy said he doesn’t agree wih the decision by the feds, but added, “I didn’t have a vote.”
As bad as the daily stats were, the governor bravely put on a positive face and said they likely would be even worse if not for the state’s “social distancing” edict.
But on that score there seems to be a continuing problem – in Lakewood.
Pat Callahan, the head of the State Police, ticked off the overnight violations. There was a barber shop and a health club that illegally opened and another moron who coughed on a police officer.
But Callahan said police had to break up yet another large gathering in Lakewood; this time a Bar Mitzvah. This was at least the sixth such gathering in Lakewood attracting police attention since social
distancing took effect.
Such gatherings break the law and put people’s health at risk, but they also have prompted anti-Semitic Internet comments. Lakewood has a large orthodox Jewish community.
At every briefing, the governor rightly condemns all types of religious and racial bigotry and says any overt act will be prosecuted.
But there’s also the matter of his executive order being ignored, even if, as Murphy says, it’s only by a minority in the community. On that score, the governor said he wants to explore increasing penalties for
those ignoring the state ban on gatherings.
The governor said that by now, there’s no one who should be unaware of what is happening, and besides, “the patience for ignorance is about zero.”
On a more upbeat note, the governor appealed to what he sees as the greatness of the Garden State, suggesting that if any state can quickly whip the coronavirus, it’s tough and brash New Jersey.
“We have got to crush that curve; we have got (that) within us,” he said.