Politics, like nature, abhors a vacuum. Events occur, and individuals find themselves unexpectedly front and center. A select few rise to the occasion, indeed, some succeed beyond all expectations, and others are found lacking, and disappear into the dustbin of history.
Pop quiz for all you political junkies out there: Name the governor of Louisiana during Katrina. See, told you so. Most can remember the buffoonish mayor of New Orleans, Ray Nagin, well, simply because he epitomized incompetence, but if you do in fact remember Kathleen Babineaux Blanco, then you need to get a life.
I don't think that Sandy will have any effect on the presidential election next week, but the storm has already had a profound impact on the political future of one who may well run for the White House, the governor of New Jersey, Chris Christie.
New Jersey took a direct hit, a body blow, from Sandy. We don't even yet fully understand the extent of the damage, just how bad it really is. But anyone who has heard Christie's press briefings these last two days has no doubt that there definitely IS somebody in charge, calling the shots, and accepting responsibility for getting things done.
Early this year, there was some talk of Christie running for the nomination. He quickly took himself out of contention, saying that "he wasn't yet ready," and then he endorsed Romney. He's since been an avid, and effective campaigner for Mitt. There were also several polls that supposedly showed that Christie wasn't that popular in New Jersey. His re-election wasn't a sure thing. NJ is heavily Democrat, and the party desperately wants to win back Trenton.
Cory Booker, the black mayor of Newark, is the putative candidate. He's been getting an increasingly high profile, often appearing on many of the Sunday talking head shows as an effective Obama surrogate. More importantly, he comes across as someone who can stand up to Christie, who won't be bullied, pushed around by the governor.
Enter Sandy. In just two days, Christie has:
1. Praised Obama, and FEMA, for being responsive to all his needs.
2. Said that he couldn't give a damn about next weeks elections, as he's only worried about helping the people of New Jersey.
3. Managed to channel Gen. Russel Honore, as Christie all but accused the inept mayor of Atlantic City, as being "stuck on stupid."
As New Jersey digs out, and then rebuilds, Christie will be in the limelight, in the forefront, every day. The media LOVES him. He's good press, good camera. And be assured, Christie will be successful in fixing his state.
And just as after 9/11, Rudy Guiliani became America's mayor, and was spoken of as a possible presidential candidate, Chris Christie will become America's governor, and be talked about as a future president.
There are two tracks for his political future:
1. Romney wins. Christie, wildly popular in the state for his efforts in reconstruction, easily wins re-election in 2013. Booker will not run against him, choosing instead to run for the Senate seat in 2014, when Lautenberg retires.
2. Romney loses. Christie, wildy popular in the state for his efforts in reconstruction, easily wins re-election in 2013, AND IMMEDIATELY BECOMES THE MORNING LINE FAVORITE FOR THE 2016 GOP NOMINATION. Ann Coulter will promptly endorse him. Term limited as governor, he can lay the groundwork for the primaries early on, while continuing to focus on rebuilding New Jersey. His platform will be one of demonstrated competence, of proven performance.
Every presidential candidate has a dog. I don't believe that Christie has one. Look for him to acquire one in the near future. I'd suggest a Labrador, and as for a name, what better than "Sandy."