By Melanie Batley
Politicians are the "locus of selfishness in the modern world," and New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and President Barack Obama are evidence of that, says commentator Peggy Noonan.
In her column for The Wall Street Journal, Noonan says that although public servants should inherently be less selfish and more focused on the public good, the public no longer expects that. Politicians recognize, and capitalize on, the change in attitude.
Politicians "use the knowledge to justify being even worse than they'd normally be. 'If I have the name, I might as well have the game'. They are the locus of selfishness in the modern world," she writes.
"Chris Christie's problem isn't that he's a bully, it's that he's selfish. Barack Obama isn't stupid and therefore the maker of mayhem, he's selfish."
Noonan goes on to say that it is well known among those working with lawmakers that their actions are driven by their own needs, wants and interests instead of the people they serve, even as the country grapples with unprecedented crises.
"Mr. Christie is a great talent, a political figure of real and natural gifts. What has jeopardized his position is not that he's gruff, in-your-face, insistent—a bully. It's that he's been selfish," she writes.
Noonan gives a number of examples of Christie's selfishness. She points to his speech at the 2012 speech at the GOP convention in which Christie spent far more time talking about himself than about Mitt Romney's presidential bid.
She says his "effusive embrace" of Obama following superstorm Sandy was also an example of a selfish bid to win over Democrats in an election year when he was already on track for a landslide victory.
"He was already going to win big. But he had to win bigger, had to have more," she writes.
"When bridge-gate came, it seemed to fit the pattern—he'll ding you when he doesn't have to, even if it makes local citizens cry, to gain an advantage, to get more. Whoever made the call, selfishness is at the heart of that scandal."
Noonan says Obama's rhetoric and policies are also rooted in selfishness, describing the president's signature healthcare law as a prime example.
"It was political selfishness that blew up the American healthcare system. And it's the public, in this and other messes, that's left holding the bag. But as government gets bigger the bag gets bigger, and people will get tired of carrying it. They're already tired," she writes.
Noonan concludes by saying, "Someday history will write of our era, and to history the biggest scandal will be the thing we all accepted in our leaders, chronic and endemic selfishness. History will be hard on us for that."
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