When Chris Christie was a U.S. Attorney in 2002, he had no qualms “emphatically” denouncing torture. “I cannot believe, given the history of this country, that no matter what the threat to our country that we would forsake our protection of liberties to the extent that we would advocate torture as a way of getting evidence,” he said at the time.
The future governor added, “You have to be coolheaded in times of crisis to be able to not go too far.”
Twelve years later, with a new Senate Intelligence Committee report sparking serious discussions around the world, the no-nonsense, straight-talking New Jersey Republican is reluctant to endorse the same principles.
Asked for his reaction by The New York Times, Mr. Christie said, “All I’ve seen, unfortunately, at this point, is some of the reporting from your newspaper, so I don’t think it would be responsible to comment based only on that.” […]Asked whether he was comfortable with the interrogation techniques he had read about so far, Mr. Christie declined to say. “I’m not going to comment based just on what I’ve read so far,” he said. “It would be irresponsible.”
Behold, the bold, unflinching leadership of Christopher J. Christie.
Look, I can appreciate the value of pausing to read a report before assessing it, even if Dick Cheney disagrees. If Christie wants to withhold comment about specific, detailed revelations, fine.
But in 2002, Christie was willing to condemn torture in no uncertain terms. Why, 12 years later, when many in his party are eagerly celebrating torture, is the governor suddenly so shy on the subject?
And more to the point, why does this keep happening?
Asked for his take on the Eric Garner story, Christie doesn’t want to talk about it.
Asked about immigration policy, Christie doesn’t want to talk about it.
Asked about U.S. efforts to combat ISIS in Syria, Christie doesn’t want to talk about it.
Asked about the Supreme Court’s Hobby Lobby ruling, at least at first, Christie didn’t want to talk about it.
I remember when Christie was first elected governor. “This is who I am,” he said at the time. “Like it or not, you guys are stuck with me for four years and I’m going to say things directly when you 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.”
A few years later, the New Jersey Republican now takes pride in his ability to dodge questions, saying it’s the mark of “a good leader.”
As we’ve discussed before, it’s actually the opposite. Good leaders generally aren’t scared to answer questions about current events, worried about what one constituency or another might say in response. Christie used to present himself as being afraid of nothing and no one. Now the prospect of sharing his take on the major issues of the day makes him uncomfortable, and perhaps even frightened.