It wasn't women, Latinos, blacks or even the omnipresent baby boomers on the brink of retiring who decided this election. To some extent, it was all of them. But mostly it was a girl named Sandy in a stage production directed by N.J. Gov. Chris Christie with an assist from NYC Mayor Mike Bloomberg -- both Republicans -- that helped re-elect President Obama.
After months of finger pointing, fact checking and debates where style trumped substance, in the end it took raging winds knocking out power to millions and leaving thousands without shelter to set the election on its final course.
The storm of the century that prompted Obama to declare an emergency in over a dozen states also united a country that stepped up to aid its citizens. It was there on the storm's center stage that the nation finally saw evidence of the consensus and bipartisanship that Obama has been working so futilely for four years to achieve. And much to the nation's surprise, the prized reach-across-the-aisle moment featured the most ferocious Republican lion of them all, Chris Christie.
Call Christie what you will, question his own ambitious motives, tell him he needs to go on a diet. Whatever. He became Tony Soprano on a good day, a tough-talking teddy bear of a guy who gave comfort to those in need and wouldn't take no for an answer. He let the world know how Obama gave him his direct phone number and told him to use it anytime. He stood up to GOP party puppeteers and wouldn't give Gov. Mittens a chance for a photo op -- Christie was no longer interested in playing presidential politics when the lives of the people of his state were turned so upside down, he said. And when he publicly praised President Obama for his response to the storm's victims, it was a pin stuck in a Romney voodoo doll for all the nation to see.
We saw it. We all saw it. And the election tide shifted.
Bloomberg, while his cut may not have been as deep, came straight out and endorsed Obama based on his handling of the Sandy crisis. Recovering from Sandy and global warming became the election reality show last week and pretty much everything else took a back seat.
So what happens next? Where did all those pre-Sandy issues go? There's a phenomenon here in Los Angeles that occurs with great regularity on our freeways. You sit and sit in traffic for an hour and then for no apparent reason it just miraculously dissipates and you find yourself moving again. That's kind of what happened in the presidential race. The differences that slowed up our progress just kind of went away and suddenly it felt like we were moving again.
Except we know they didn't. When the last coastal flooding recedes from Long Beach Island and Staten Island rebuilding begins, we will still be needing national health care reform and a Social Security net there to catch those who need catching. The need for retirement support for the 10,000 Americans a day who turn 65 isn't going away. Nor is the need for jobs creation and support for those who impacted by the housing crisis. Our schools are starving for textbooks while the unions fiddle and once the power is restored, we need to find a cheaper way to provide it.
For Obama, the new day has dawned. For Christie, who is probably swimming with the fishes as far as the GOP is concerned, 2016 is long enough for the party bosses to forget but the world to remember the guy who stood up to them.
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