New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie and former Virginia Gov. Bob McDonnell were the first victors in the Tea Party wave, riding fresh conservative enthusiasm–and outrage over Obamacare–to victory in November 2009. The left, predictably, is trying to link Christie’s bullying scandal and McDonnell’s corruption indictment to that Tea Party support. The truth, however, is that they dumped their Tea Party principles and supporters long ago.
There were several minor scuffles between these governors and the conservative grass roots, including a fight over some of Christie’s judicial appointments, and McDonnell’s tax hikes. Yet the major falling-out occurred over Obamacare–specifically, the decision of these two governors (among others) to renege on their promises not to expand Medicaid in accordance with the Affordable Care Act (and its generous federal handouts).
Christie also repeatedly attacked House Republicans over delays in approving assistance to victims of Hurricane Sandy, ignoring legitimate objections to wasteful spending in the bill, then asserting–falsely–that he had been against “pork” in the Sandy bill all along. Christian Adams recalls that McDonnell also touted his alliances with far-left groups and fought against efforts to restrict voting among felons. All of that irritated conservatives.
No political party or faction is immune from corruption or abuses of power. The high ideals of the Tea Party are no guarantee that loyal conservatives will be any more honest than other politicians (though their commitment to small government would give them fewer opportunities for plunder and retribution). Regardless, McDonnell and Christie are no stain on the Tea Party. In fact, their isolation from the movement is to the Tea Party’s credit.
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