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In defense of Chris Christie’s Hobby Lobby non-answer and the modest presidency
Hotair ^ | 07/02/2014 | Noah Rothman

Posted on 07/02/2014 12:22:19 PM PDT by SeekAndFind

Chris Christie is running for president in 2016. That is perhaps why his seemingly evasive response when asked for an opinion on the recent Supreme Court decision in the Hobby Lobby case was so disconcerting for many on the right.

In a heated exchange with CNBC’s Squawk Box hosts on Tuesday, the New Jersey governor defended his pro-life views under a withering barrage of questions about how that point of view may “bog him down” with the broader electorate, and whether he or other Republicans “should run on taking away the right to choose” from women.

When asked if he thought the Court was correct when they invalidated the Affordable Care Act’s birth control mandate for some companies on the basis that it violated the 1992 Restoration of Freedom of Religion Act, Christie ran afoul of conservatives when he replied, “Who knows?”

“The fact is that, when you’re an executive, you’re Supreme Court makes a ruling and you’ve got to live with it unless you get the legislative body to change the law or change the constitution,” he added. “Why should I give an opinion on whether they’re right or wrong? At the end of the day, they did what they did.”

“I don’t think that’s the most central issue that we need to talk about this morning, when you look at the challenges that face our country,” Christie said. “And, if I allow people to put me in that box, shame on me. I’m not a good politician, and I’m not a good leader.”


Many other prospective 2016 candidates with widely divergent views on social matters, including Sens. Ted Cruz (R-TX), Marco Rubio (R-FL), and Rand Paul (R-KY), all issued positive statements on the Court’s ruling just hours after it was announced on Monday. Christie’s delayed and divergent opinion on the case, or lack thereof, prompted a barrage of scornful rebukes from conservatives.

National Review’s Jonah Goldberg called Christie’s response “lame” and “disappointing.” AllahPundit chided the Garden State governor for “yammering on about what executives are supposed to do when a court rules, as if he’s addressing a leadership seminar.” Conservative author and radio host Tammy Bruce reflected on Christie’s comments and mused simply, “Jackass.”

This response from the right is understandable. At best, Christie displayed uncharacteristic and dubious caution about weighing in on this divisive social issue. At worst, he was demonstrating a penchant for slippery equivocation.

Moreover, conservatives are not predisposed to extend New Jersey’s governor the benefit of the doubt on social policy, regardless of his personal views on the morality of abortion. From the governor’s position on access to firearms in New Jersey, to his views on Islam in America, to his state’s ballooning debt, to his infamous embrace of President Barack Obama in the wake of Hurricane Sandy; conservatives generally don’t trust that Christie is “one of us.”

These are all valid concerns, but the latest – centering on his decision to keep his opinions on Hobby Lobby to himself – is not. Christie’s response to this question was perfectly legitimate, centering as it did on his understanding of enumerated powers. In the executive, the president’s opinion on Supreme Court decisions matters less than does the opinion of members of the congressional leadership who alone have the power to reverse them.

However unlikely, given Christie’s fondness for bombast, his position could just as easily have been interpreted as an indication of his intention to return the executive to its rightful place in American politics and reversing the presidency’s monarchical drift. That is, after all, the sort of president conservatives have long said they desire.

Early in the Obama presidency, amid a surge of public sector activism, conservatives of many ideological stripes rediscovered one of America’s least activist commanders-in-chief: Calvin Coolidge. A flurry of renewed interest the hands-off style of America’s 30th president prompted conservative columnists and politicians to laud “silent Cal’s” republican, unadorned presidency. Though offering a somewhat idealized version of Coolidge’s philosophy, conservatives of a variety of ideological stripes longed for a return to his preference for noninterventionist government and his apparent belief that he could rarely improve the silence.

A passage from The Encyclopedia of the American Presidency best illustrates Coolidge’s habit of frustrating journalists with his caution.

During the 1924 presidential campaign, a reporter asked him: “Have you any statement on the campaign?” “No,” replied Coolidge. “Can you tell us something about the world situation?” asked another. “No.” “Any information about Prohibition?” “No.” When reporters started to leave, Coolidge said solemnly: “Now, remember – don’t quote me.”

It is clear today that conservatives appreciate Coolidge’s thoughtful restraint in theory far more than in practice. After years of nearly unprecedented and divisive activism from the White House, culminating Obama’s brutal 2012 reelection campaign based on fracturing of Americans on the basis of race, sexuality, and religion, conservatives seem more interested in settling scores.

This is a forgivable impulse, but it is counterproductive. The strain of libertarian thought coursing through the country as faith in the ability and competency of government erodes heavily favors the conservative approach toward financial and budgetary matters. The president’s self-evident failure to safeguard American interests abroad and restore prosperity at home has renewed the public’s faith in Republicans as stewards of the nation’s affairs.

“Democrats are counting on the president’s edge on social issues to make up for a weak economy,” Politico reported in June of 2012. In the end, it did. In the immediate wake of that shocking loss, Republicans seemed comfortable declaring, as former Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels advised in 2010, a “truce” on social matters in order to fight political battles on more favorable ground. That sentiment has disappeared in the intervening years.

A conservative president can never pursue or advance through the power of example conservative social policy if he or she is never elected to office. Many on the right seem more contented to go down swinging so long as they maintain their principled integrity in the process. Democratic candidates for high office, meanwhile, evidence no such scruples. They run as moderates and govern as liberals, and the Overton Window shifts ever further to the left in the process. It is time for Republicans to think a bit more strategically, pick their battles, disband the circular firing squads, and leave the ideological litmus tests to the left.

Chris Christie didn’t stumble when he refused to offer an opinion on Hobby Lobby. In fact, in the definitional sense, he was acting like a conservative.

TOPICS: Constitution/Conservatism; Culture/Society; Government; News/Current Events
KEYWORDS: chrischristie; hobbylobby; scotus

1 posted on 07/02/2014 12:22:20 PM PDT by SeekAndFind
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To: SeekAndFind

By all measurements and polls more than 50% of the American population is pro-life. Why would that hurt him?

2 posted on 07/02/2014 12:25:16 PM PDT by Jim from C-Town (The government is rarely benevolent, often malevolent and never benign!)
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To: SeekAndFind

I have no problem with Christie’s answer. He stated his personal views on the subject, but in speaking of the court decision respected the separation of powers.

Unlike the current President, who would love to treat SCOTUS as another part of the Executive Branch.

Christie is right on this one.

3 posted on 07/02/2014 12:27:56 PM PDT by Jedidah
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To: Jim from C-Town

Most of the population is opposed to illegal amnesty as well...but that doesn’t stop anyone.

4 posted on 07/02/2014 12:28:03 PM PDT by vmivol00 (I won't be reconstructed.)
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To: SeekAndFind

This writer thinks not answering questions because Christie may run
for President is a virtue.

Fat Bastd is finished.

5 posted on 07/02/2014 12:28:17 PM PDT by tennmountainman (True conservatives don't like being pissed on by their own party!)
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To: SeekAndFind

Need more women leaders speaking out who are pro-life. The Dems and media try to make this issue appear as if GOP men are against women.

Many thanks to Palin and others who do speak out and stand for pro-life.

6 posted on 07/02/2014 12:36:12 PM PDT by Cedar
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To: SeekAndFind; Jim from C-Town; Jedidah; vmivol00; tennmountainman; Cedar

That's the big problem with Chris Christie?

7 posted on 07/02/2014 12:39:17 PM PDT by 2ndDivisionVet (The most dangerous man to any government is the man who is able to think things out for himself.)
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To: SeekAndFind

“Chris Christie didn’t stumble when he refused to offer an opinion on Hobby Lobby. In fact, in the definitional sense, he was acting like a conservative.”

No, he was acting like a Butt-Crust that refused to answer a straight forward question.

Saying he will govern like a liberal unless forced by the courts, isn’t conservative!

8 posted on 07/02/2014 12:46:26 PM PDT by Beagle8U (Unions are an Affirmative Action program for Slackers! .)
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To: SeekAndFind

Ha! And this was the dude that first became known (and briefly celebrated) for his in-your-face straight talking.

His almost comical refusal to even state a modest opinion on the Hobby Lobby decision just shows what an abject coward he is. Just like when Romney pathetically ducked the Chick-Fil-A buy-cott question during the election. Totally exemplifies the kind of politician I absolutely loathe, and have utter contempt for.

9 posted on 07/02/2014 12:47:02 PM PDT by greene66
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"One nation under God.."

click the pic
help keep the lights on
donate today!

10 posted on 07/02/2014 12:47:21 PM PDT by trisham (Zen is not easy. It takes effort to attain nothingness. And then what do you have? Bupkis.)
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To: SeekAndFind

Christie is a National joke, a liar and a RINO. Please do NOT try and convince me otherwise.

11 posted on 07/02/2014 12:51:09 PM PDT by RIghtwardHo
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To: SeekAndFind

People often, RIGHTFULLY, look at view on social issues as a barometer of how they’ll govern overall.

If a candidate keeps those positions to himself, people are wise to be suspicious.

Ronald Reagan never hesitated to state what he thought about abortion. He wasn’t in-your-face on it, but he was not about to accept that a fetus was nothing more than a tissue mass. People who supported abortion heard him, and yet many still voted for him - as they respected his opinion and his willingness to say so, even when they disagreed.

He won two LANDSLIDES.

12 posted on 07/02/2014 3:16:24 PM PDT by BobL
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To: SeekAndFind

Fat boi is a f’n DemocRat.

13 posted on 07/02/2014 3:33:07 PM PDT by VRWC For Truth (Roberts has perverted the Constitution)
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