Blunt truth teller Chris Christie is getting a lot of media attention this morning for slamming Obama as a “bystander” to the supercommittee process. Here, for instance, is Politico’s channeling of Christie’s blunt truth telling:
Calling Obama “a bystander in the Oval Office,” the outspoken New Jersey governor said the White House spent the weekend tossing out a whole lot of “spin” about the supercommittee’s inability to come to an agreement before the Nov. 23 deadline.
“I was angry this weekend, listening to the spin coming out of the administration, about the failure of the supercommittee, and that the president knew it was doomed for failure, so he didn’t get involved. Well then what the hell are we paying you for?” Christie said during a press conference in Camden, N.J. “It’s doomed for failure so I’m not getting involved? Well, what have you been doing, exactly?”
Christie, of course, knows full well that in reality, if Obama had pushed harder for his desired outcome, it would have made compromise harder to attain, not easier.
How does Christie know this? Because Republicans themselves said so, early on in the process.
This fact has vanished down the memory hole, but it’s true nonetheless. Indeed, what makes this even more absurd is that Republicans said this when Obama released his own very lengthy plan for deficit reduction, something that has also been disappeared down the memory hole.
That's right. When Obama released his plan and threatened to veto any solution that didn’t comport with his general vision, supercommittee Republican Jeb Hensarling said this:
By issuing a veto threat as talks have begun in earnest, the president is again undermining the work of the Joint Select Committee. I sincerely hope he doesn’t succeed.
Now, there were two ways Obama could get involved. He could lay out his vision and push for it, or he could refrain from doing that while publicly urging the two sides to compromise. He did the former. Anyone who claims the latter would have had any effect at all is just lying to you.
What’s more, as Ruth Marcus recently recalled, multiple supercommittee members privately made it clear to the White House that they wanted less involvement: “The message from both Republican and Democratic members of the group was that presidential involvement could only be counterproductive. The more a particular approach was associated with the president, they argued, the harder it would be for Republicans to embrace it.”
Needless to say, few if any of the news accounts transcribing Christie’s remarks are also sharing these key facts and context with readers. These sorts of omissions, of course, might help explain why Christie has a reputation for being a blunt truth teller in the first place.