Mitt Romney and other Republicans have largely avoided criticizing President Obama over his handling of Hurricane Sandy. In fact, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has gone out of his way to repeatedly praise Obama's response to the storm, calling it "outstanding." Christie, who has sharply criticized Obama in the past while serving as one of Romney's sharper-tongued campaign surrogates, is even inspecting storm damage in his state with Obama on Wednesday, leading some political analysts to wonder whether he's throwing Romney under the bus just a few days before the election. But Christie's not alone. Liberals are delighted that several other prominent conservatives have made comments in the storm's aftermath that, in the view of Democrats, make Obama look more presidential:
1. Chris Christie
"A year ago, Christie mocked ObamaCare, the federal law that subsidizes and requires the purchase of health insurance," says William Saletan at Slate. In the wake of the storm, however, "Christie excoriates coastal residents and officials for taking the same defiant, tough-it-out attitude" that he once did, blasting them for ignoring government calls to evacuate ahead of the storm. Buying health insurance is a lot like evacuating before a storm — it's taking personal responsibility for your own well-being, so taxpayers won't have to rescue you when you get in trouble. So not only is Christie explicitly praising Obama, he's also making a strong case for ObamaCare, although he doesn't appear to see it.
2. Michael Brown
George W. Bush's one-time FEMA director Michael "heckuva job Brownie" Brown was widely criticized for the flawed and slow federal response to Hurricane Katrina, but that didn't stop him from firing off a few choice criticisms of Obama's response to Hurricane Sandy. His complaint, says Alexandra Petri at The Washington Post, was, essentially, that Obama was too fast. "Why did he jump on this so quickly and go back to D.C. so quickly when in ... Benghazi, he went to Las Vegas?" Brown asked Denver's Westword. "Why was this so quick?" He was trying, of course, to exploit what he saw as an opportunity to renew the criticism of Obama over the Sept. 11 terrorist attack in Libya, but "the irony of this is pretty palpable." Attacking Obama for acting too swiftly and "looking too presidential" is an odd way to try taking him down a peg.
3. Newt Gingrich
Former House Speaker Newt Gingrich has also jumped on the GOP bandwagon trying to turn the hurricane into an occasion to slam Obama for his handling of Benghazi. ("You'll notice he's canceling his trips over the hurricane," Newt said. "He did not cancel his trips over Benghazi.") That line of attack is bound to backfire, though, says Ben Adler at The Nation. This tortured reasoning will only "make it clear that [conservatives] are so blinded by partisanship that there is nothing Obama could have done that they would not criticize." And that helps Obama.