Take Christie’s blowup with Senator Paul over National Security Agency surveillance. At a recent Aspen Institute confab, Christie derided libertarianism as a “very dangerous thought,” and then invoked 9/11’s “widows and orphans” to batter Paul. The senator fired back, and pointed to New Jersey taking federal aid for damage from Hurricane Sandy. After some more back-and-forth, Christie spurned Paul’s offer to sit down and talk over a beer, and managed to offend libertarians as well as a few establishmentarians.
A presidential appointee and veteran of the last three winning Republican campaigns told me, “Christie should have had the beer with Paul, welcomed him to New Jersey, given him some pizza and saltwater taffy, that sort of thing.” The Reagan, Bush 41, and 43 alum continued, “Paul is an ophthalmologist, and Bausch & Lomb’s global pharmaceuticals division is in Madison, N.J. It’s called graciousness.”
If Christie intends to continue with a hard line on surveillance, he should at least need to leaven his approach with personal transparency. Fair’s fair. If he wants to know our secrets, then we should know his. At least as they pertain to his public duties.
For starters, Christie should announce that his office expense records during his tenure as a federal prosecutor for New Jersey and as governor will not be shielded from public scrutiny. As a gubernatorial candidate in 2009, Christie’s records as U.S. attorney were the subject of a Freedom of Information Act cat-and-mouse game between Christie; his opponent, the since-disgraced former New Jersey governor Jon Corzine; and an eager press. Secrecy from Iran, China, Russia, and al Qaeda is one thing; secrecy from tax-paying citizens about things domestic is a whole other story.
Anyway, that stuff usually sees the light of day. We have come to learn about George W. Bush’s DUI arrest, Giuliani’s client base, Mitt Romney’s offshore holdings and tax returns, and Hillary’s conflict-laden, taxpayer-funded, sweetheart deal with Anthony Weiner’s wife, Huma Abedin.