… and show the country what it’s like to rebuild, restore — together.
Watched President Barack Obama and New Jersey Governor Chris Christie launch the Memorial Day weekend start of tourist season on the Jersey Shore.
I was impressed.
It wasn’t beach season yet, but they were gamely celebrating the moment by tossing balls into one of those boardwalk games. They were surrounded by Secret Service officers and other security types, but I was impressed by the joined laughter of two men working at doing the right thing.
As a new citizen, I recognize that this is no small matter.
I’ve listened to Chris Christie since his state was hit by Superstorm Sandy, and I appreciated his wrath. I liked the way he talked about our president in getting things done. I sensed that the governor was like most of the men I admire. They see people hurting, find a solution, get it done.
I’ve been a Washington watcher for a long time, so I cringe when I see our leaders there attack for the sake of attacking, and filibuster for the sake of stalling. It always makes me wonder, ‘Why aren’t they attending to our business?”
Scandal always whips them up, so the real work of rebuilding our economy, creating jobs, and rebuilding our broken communities, is lost amid all the shouting.
I’ve heard Chris Christie shout. I’ve heard him shout in the name of the citizens who elected him. I don’t know much about his day-to-day governance, but I appreciate any Republican governor who can bat back critics in his own party, and work with a Democrat president the way voters expect of their political leaders.
We expect big things in these turbulent economic times. There are far too many Americans without jobs, and far too many without enough food to eat. There are far too many suffering because of political inaction.
Chris Christie has spent the last seven months pushing Washington to do more for his state’s recovery. He’s worked with beleaguered FEMA and a politically divided Congress to accelerate rebuilding.
New Jersey, of course, still has a long way to go.
But the swift reconstruction of that boardwalk alone has signaled to all those hurt by Superstorm Sandy that both parties are working with business and the community to alleviate suffering and rebuild, rebuild, rebuild.
For all that, Chris Christie tossed a ball into a carny booth, and took home a teddy bear.
With gratitude to every FEMA worker who has worked tirelessly all over this country to help people savaged by natural disasters. Government workers don’t get enough credit for the work they do — paid and unpaid — to keep our country safe.
I’m especially grateful to Federal Emergency Management Agency workers in Oklahoma City, and in all the communities hit recently by tornadoes and other disasters.
FEMA goes beyond boots-on-the-ground clean-ups and financial relief. Its Disaster Distress Helpline (800-985-5990) operates long after the storms have passed. It also works with mental health experts to ensure Americans shocked and hurt by tragedy in their communities get help after the TV cameras have left.