Chris Christie: A Conservative Myth - Part 7
Lately, it has become fashionable among conservatives and Republicans nationwide to lavish effusive praise and encomiums upon Governor Chris Christie as the “Conservative Savior” of New Jersey - and this trend has begun to mushroom into a fervent cult of pseudo-personality that is already calling for him to throw his hat into the 2012 Presidential campaign ring.
Myth #7: Gov. Christie strongly opposes illegal immigration, gun control and the Ground Zero Mosque.
Here are the facts: Just the opposite is true for every one of these issues.
In late April of 2008, at church forum sponsored by the local chapter of the Latino Leadership Alliance of New Jersey, Mr. Christie assured his audience that illegal immigrants were not really here illegally, but were simply “undocumented.”
“Being in this country without proper documentation is not a crime,” Christie told more than 60 residents and town officials. “The whole phrase of ‘illegal immigrant’ connotes that the person, by just being here, is committing a crime.”
“Don’t let people make you believe that that’s a crime that the U.S. Attorney’s Office should be doing something about,” he added of entering the country illegally. “It is not.”
Mr. Christie later tried to clarify his statement, but CNN’s Lou Dobbs would have none of it. According to correspondent Bill Tucker:
Now it’s perhaps worth noting that Christie doesn’t have a strong record on prosecuting immigration violations. From 2002 through 2007, we could only find 13 cases of immigration cases that were prosecuted.
We called Christie’s office; they would not help us with a better count. They told us they have got 150 lawyers; they don’t have the time to track all of this. So we went through their press releases and got 13. Compare that to the U.S. attorney in Kansas who was much more helpful. That office provided us with a list of their immigration case load in that same time period and Lou, 597 cases in Kansas from 2002 to 2007.
At that church meeting, Mr. Christie claimed that he supports more border security but added that “certain leaders around the state that have demagogued on this issue” are “ill-informed.”
It was a gratuitous swipe at Morristown Mayor Donald Cresitello - a conservative Democrat who pushed hard in 2007 for his municipality to be granted 287(g) status that would permit local cops to be deputized as federal immigration officers with the power to apprehend and turn over to ICE agents any illegal aliens undocumented immigrants they discovered.
At about the time that Mr. Christie was publicly berating Mayor Crisitello for “grandstanding,” news broke of the shooting deaths of four students in a Newark school yard by members of a gang led by an illegal immigrant from Peru who had been arrested the year before on an assault charge and then released. Newark is located in Essex County - which had thus far refused to apply for 287(g) status.
Oops. I wonder how long it took for County Prosecutor (and future state AG) Paula Dow, county leaders and U.S Attorney Chris Christie to wipe the egg from their faces.
As late as July of this year it appears that Gov. Christie has doubled down on his position:
On the hot-button topic of immigration reform, he said he has long declined to “demagogue” the issue as a former U.S. Attorney, because “I come from law enforcement and it’s not an easy issue.”
But he did intimate that he thinks stringent state-by-state laws - such as in Arizona - are the wrong approach, and added, “I think President Obama doesn’t do this at his own risk because it’s affecting the economy in the country…to me, I think the president’s really gotta show the leadership on this.”
“This is a federal problem, it’s gotta have a federal fix,” he said. “I’m not really comfortable with state law enforcement having a big role.”
He said that without border security, enforcement of existing laws and a “clear” path to legalization for immigrants, there would never be a fix.
Ben Smith of Politico provided a bit more detail on Christie’s comments:
“What I support is making sure that the federal government [plays] each and every one of its roles: Securing the border, enforcing immigration laws, and having an orderly process — whatever that process is — for people to gain citizenship.”
He added: “It’s a very easy issue to demagogue and I’m just not going to participate in that.”
Christie said more resources — specifically, “money” — were needed to support federal law enforcement and border security, along with “having a clear understandable law that people can follow.”
“Until you have both of those…you’re not going to fix the problem,” he said.
Christie also said he thinks state and local law enforcement don’t have appropriate training to enforce immigration laws, and that it can distract from their overriding goal of keeping the public safe.
“Keeping the public safe.” You know…what the Newark constabulary could have done if it had the authority to apprehend the illegal alien undocumented immigrant who directed the schoolyard murder of four students. That kind of public safety.
The ostensibly conservative Governor Christie also opposes Arizona’s effort to do what the federal government is supposed to be doing - protecting itself from a continual incursion across its borders with Mexico. Rather strange - in light of the fact that most conservatives support the law while most liberals oppose it, no?
Then there is the matter of a “clear path to legalization for immigrants.” It doesn’t take extensive parsing to tease out what he means: a path to legalization does not need to be extended to immigrants who are here legally, but to those who are here…um…illegally. What would such a path entail? There is only thing we can think of: amnesty. And the result? Heh… “an orderly process for people to gain citizenship.”
Goodness gracious…it appears that everyone’s favorite conservative rock star shares the stage with Alpha RINOs John McCain and Lindsey Graham. Ouch.
Mr. Christie strongly supported the assault weapons ban enacted during the Clinton administration. In a campaign flyer circulated during his 1995 campaign, he attacked his opponents’ support for repealing the ban:
As the gubernatorial campaign commenced in June last year, Michael Symons of the Asbury Park Press reported that:
Chris Christie supports the assault weapons ban and all current gun laws. He opposes attempts to permit conceal and carry laws in New Jersey - hardly the NRA position.
In August 2009, then Governor Jon Corzine signed into law a restrictive gun control measure that limited handgun purchases to one per month - legislation that Republican Candidate Chris Christie is on record as opposing.
However, that tune changed abruptly soon after Gov. Christie took office:
Just one day after being sworn in, the newly appointed state Attorney General [Paula Dow] took the most aggressive legal posture available to defend former Governor Corzine’s one-gun-a-month handgun rationing law, moving to dismiss ANJRPC’s lawsuit to overturn the law, and later vigorously opposing ANJRPC’s motion for a preliminary injunction in the case. The U.S. District Court could hear argument on these motions as soon as April.
This is the first indication of the new Attorney General’s posture on the firearms issue. Despite the unanimous opposition of Senate republicans and several prominent democrats when this legislation was rammed through by one vote in the middle of the night last June, the Attorney General has chosen to aggressively defend the largely ineffective law, which can be easily thwarted by criminals and fails to punish criminal behavior, but which clearly tramples the rights of honest citizens…”
In an October 27 interview with Sean Hannity, Gov. Christie admitted that he favors gun control.
Christie: We have a densely populated state and there’s a big handgun problem in New Jersey. Now, I don’t support all the things that the governor supports, by a long stretch. But on certain gun control issues, looking at it from a law enforcement perspective, seeing how many police officers were killed — we have an illegal gun problem in New Jersey.
Hannity: Should every citizen in your state be allowed to get a licensed weapon if they want one?
Christie: In New Jersey, that’s not going to happen, Sean.
Christie: Listen, with the Democratic Legislature that we have, there is no way those type of things -
Hannity: Would you support it.”
Christie: Listen, at the end of the day, what I support are common sense laws that will allow people to protect themselves. But I also am very concerned about the safety of our police officers on the streets. Very concerned. And I want to make sure that we don’t have an abundance of guns out there.
So much for a stalwart, solidly conservative defense of the Second Amendment. How’s that rock star status holding up so far?
Ground Zero Mosque
What better way to wrap up this traipse though quasi-conservative fantasyland but a stop at Cordoba House - aka The Ground Zero Mosque? During the summer the media reported on a proposal to construct a 13-story Islamic community center two blocks’ distance from Ground Zero. Dubbed “The Ground Zero Mosque,” it became the nexus of a controversy involving those who opposed the construction of the mosque on ground made “hallowed” by the September 11 attack and those who argued that opposing the construction was tantamount to religious persecution of Muslims.
According to the official website for the Cordoba Initiative:
It will be a multi-floor community center open to all New Yorkers, much like a YMCA or Jewish Community Center (JCC) with a designated prayer space (mosque) in one area to serve the needs of the large existing community of American Muslims in the neighborhood.
Strictly speaking, that makes it a cultural center cum mosque. Whatever the designation, the plan to build it in that precise location has a lot of people upset - and for two very good reasons: first, those who hijacked the airliners that crashed into the Twin Towers were jihadist Muslims who did so in the name of Allah and of Islam and the horror of that day of infamy is still fresh in the memories of the families who lost loved ones.
Second, many opponents of the GZM see it as a national security threat. Given the increasing number of jihadists and centers of jihadist activity occurring on our own soil, it is not unreasonable to be suspicious of any and every mosque, madrassah or Islamic cultural center. Allowing them to build a recruiting center at the scene of their greatest triumph is not something that just offends the sensitivities of the victims’ families, it is a potential direct threat against New York, New Jersey and the rest of America.
What was Governor Christie’s take on all this? If you guessed that he perched himself comfortably on the fence and stuck a moistened finger in the air, you win a cigar:
“Given my last position, that I was the first U.S. attorney post-9/11 in New Jersey, I understand acutely the pain and sorrow and upset of the family members who lost loved ones that day at the hands of radical Muslim extremists,” Christie said. “And their sensitivities and concerns have to be taken into account. Just because it’s nearly nine years later, those sensitivities cannot and should not be ignored.
“On the other hand, we cannot paint all of Islam with that brush. … We have to bring people together. And what offends me the most about all this, is that it’s being used as a political football by both parties. And what disturbs me about the president’s remarks is that he is now using it as a political football as well. I think the president of the United States should rise above that. And should not be using this as a political football, and I don’t believe that it would be responsible of me to get involved and comment on this any further because it just put me in the same political arena as all of them.”
How’s that for a powerful statement of conservative principle? Except that it isn’t.
Governor Christie did nothing more than seize the rhetorical middle. By characterizing both the Republicans and the Democrats as somehow wrong for getting involved in the debate, he gives the appearance of occupying the moral high ground - even as he avers that critics of the GZM are worse than the proponents because they are overreacting and painting Islam with a radical tar brush. His position closely parallels that of NYC Mayor Bloomberg - who was even more strident in his condemnation of the GZM critics.
All Governor Christie has done is weasel out of taking sides on a contentiously divisive issue. This isn’t the behavior of a conservative statesman…it’s the behavior of a typical politician with one eye on the polls and the other on the Presidential election of 2012.
One final question for any remaining cheerleaders: more ice for your Chriservative Kool-Aid?
In Chris Christie: A Conservative Myth Exposed we will summarize our case against the shibboleth that Governor Chris Christie is a conservative Republican in the mold of Ronald Reagan.
Here are links to all the articles in this series:
How New Jersey Lost Its Mojo
Introduction to the Christie Conservative Myth
Part 1 - Budget Myths
Part 2 - Unions and State Employees
Part 3 - Conservative Appointees
Part 4 - Political Endorsements
Part 5 - Cap & Trade and “Green Technology”
Part 6 - Gov. Christie and Obamacare
Part 7 - Illegal Aliens, Gun Control and the GZ Mosque
Part 8 - A Conservative Myth Exposed