Gov. Chris Christie this morning declined to give an opinion this morning on the U.S. Supreme Court's controversial ruling allowing some religious-leaning companies to avoid paying for insurance coverage for contraception under President Obama's health care overhaul. "Who knows if the Supreme Court is right?" the Republican governor and potential 2016 presidential candidate said during an appearance on CNBC's "Squawk Box."
Yesterday, a narrow majority of the U.S. Supreme Court ruled that some employers can limit their workers' access to contraception. Just 24 hours later, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) appeared on CNBC, where he must have known in advance that a question on the topic was coming.
After having a day to think about it, here's what he came up with.
"Why should I give an opinion on whether they're right or wrong?" Christie added.
It was no doubt a rhetorical question, though the answer is pretty straightforward: the governor should give an opinion because it's a major point of debate in the United States right now and he's positioned himself as a national leader with presidential ambitions.
As part of the same discussion, the governor went on to take some pride in his ability to dodge questions: "If I allow people to put me into that box? Then shame on me -- I'm not a good politician, I'm not a good leader."
Let's think that one through for a moment.
According to Christie -- who used to present himself as a no-nonsense straight talker, afraid of nothing and no one -- a "good leader" is someone who refuses to give opinions about important national issues in order to avoid political fallout.
Silly me, I thought that was the exact opposite of a "good leader." Maybe I'm just old fashioned.
This follows a November interview in which Christie refused to give an opinion on immigration reform, declining to even reiterate support for public remarks he's already made.
The larger point remains the same: for all his bravado, the scandal-plagued governor consistently lacks the kind of political courage he wants others to see in him.
For example, as the U.S. policy in Syria reached a crisis point, Christie refused to take a stand. When New Jersey’s legislature approved a gun-safety measure he asked for, Christie vetoed it. When it came time to schedule a Senate special election, Christie picked a Wednesday in October because he was too afraid to be on the same ballot as Cory Booker.
Now the governor is too afraid to say out loud whether bosses should be able to make it harder for American women to get birth control.
No "Profile in Courage" Award for you, tough guy.