Talking Points Memo brings us the right-wing conventional wisdom on Chris Christie's now-abandoned effort to hold an asymptomatic Ebola nurse in an unheated quarantine tent against her will. The CW comes courtesy of Rush Limbaugh:
Conservative radio host Rush Limbaugh isn't impressed by the way New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) handled the involuntary quarantine of a nurse who arrived Friday in Newark after working in Sierra Leone.Earlier today, Salon's Jim Newell wrote about Christie's decision to allow Hickox out of the tent. Newell quoted a post I wrote on this:
Specifically, Limbaugh is upset that Christie allowed nurse Kaci Hickox, who wasn't showing any symptoms of the Ebola virus, to be transferred Monday to her home state of Maine to serve out the rest of her quarantine. Limbaugh likened the move to Christie's post-Hurricane Sandy embrace of President Barack Obama.
"This is the second election in a row, one week prior to an election, the governor of New Jersey ends up, well I don't know -- arm and arm, hand and hand, in bed with, I don’t know how to characterize it -- but responding to Obama's demands," Limbaugh said Monday on his radio show.
... this is going to work out all right for Christie. He gets to avoid the prolonged agony of a lawsuit and get himself out of the news. More important, he can jaw rightward about how Obama and the damn medical bureaucrats forced him to stop taking the bold measures that needed to be taken. As Steve M. at No More Mister Nice Blog, writes, "Cue new right-wing message: Christie bullied into endangering public by open-borders liberals."I appreciate that -- but I wasn't really saying that that would play well for Christie among right-wingers. Frankly, I wasn't sure. Limbaugh's comments demonstrate that it didn't.
It would be one thing if Christie were actively playing the victim card. If he were whining now that he was forced to do this by jackbooted Obama administration thugs, or possibly by evil trial lawyers (as Newell notes, Hickox was threatening a federal lawsuit), he might be looking good right now in the eyes of Limbaugh and his crowd. But Christie is insisting that he hasn't reversed course:
When the New York Times asked the governor why he reversed his decision to quarantine Hickox, he emphasized that letting releasing the nurse wasn't a reversal at all.No, no, no, Governor -- that's not how you do it. You leave her in the tent, or you say you were forced to free her by the fascist political correctness police.
"There’s been no reversal or change in any way to our policy or to our approach," he told the newspaper on Monday. "If people are symptomatic, they go into the hospital. If they live in New Jersey, they can quarantine at home. If they don't, and they're not symptomatic, then we set up quarantine for them out of state. But if they are symptomatic, they're going to the hospital."
Christie had an enemy -- as Mark noted in my comments, the right was already mounting a hate campaign against Hickox, noting that she's (gasp!) a registered Democrat, and has worked for (horrors!) the CDC. But Christie backed off.
He has an instinctive ability to play this wingnut-pleasing game, but he doesn't have the skills to play it at a big-league level.
Add this to news that Republicans are looking at Christie suspiciously because he's the head of the Republican Governors Association and Scott Walker is alleging that the RGA isn't spending enough money on Walker's struggling campaign, the implication being that Christie wants Walker to lose in order to eliminate him as a 2016 presidential candidate, and Christie's chances in the 2016 primaries just get worse and worse.
And Bridgegate has nothing to do with it. Republicans don't care about that. They just want him to be nice to fellow Republicans -- and pitiless toward everyone else. He's disappointing them on both scores.