Republican presidential candidate and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie speaks to voters at the Heritage Action Presidential Candidate Forum Sept. 18, 2015 in Greenville, SC. 
Photo by Sean Rayford/Getty

The world is not ‘literally on fire’

Chris Christie’s presidential campaign hasn’t had much to cheer about lately, but as TPM noted yesterday, the scandal-plagued Republican governor has a familiar new talking point.
Republican presidential candidate and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie said Monday that the world “is literally on fire” because of President Obama during a campaign speech in Iowa.
 
Christie talked about President Obama’s speech to the United Nations during his campaign stop.
The governor described President Obama as “a guy who doesn’t understand the world is literally on fire because of his inaction. Libya is on fire. Syria is on fire. Iraq is on fire.”
 
As a factual matter, the Obama administration took action in Libya – it was U.S. forces that helped end the Gadhafi regime – and the Obama administration has launched thousands of airstrikes in Syria over the last 14 months. Taking action and “inaction” aren’t synonyms.
 
But there was also something familiar about the Christie talking point.
 
Ted Cruz in March: “The world is on fire, yes. Your world is on fire.”
 
John Boehner in April: “The world is on fire.”
 
John McCain in June: “The world is on fire.”
 
At least Republicans have consistency going for them.
 
If these high-profile GOP officials wanted to argue that the “world is literally on fire” due to the climate crisis, we’d actually have the basis for a real policy discussion. But we know from context that they’re trying to talk about national security crises.
 
The problem, however, is two-fold. The first and most obvious problem is that the world isn’t on fire – literally or figuratively. Yes, there are dangerous crises and serious threats around the globe, but one need not be a historian to realize there are always dangerous crises and serious threats around the globe.
 
As we discussed last summer, there’s no denying that the tumult is scary, and for those affected and confronted with bloodshed first hand, heartbreaking. But those arguing that the entire world is unraveling before our eyes are simply mistaken – and making a lazy point motivated solely by partisanship.
 
The second angle to this is what these Republicans intend to do about the world they see burning. In too many instances, their recipe calls for pouring lighter fluid on the crises in the hopes it’ll put the fire out.
 
Perhaps it’s time the party choose a new metaphor?
 
 

Chris Christie and Foreign Policy

The world is not 'literally on fire'