Yesterday, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) warned fellow Republicans to stop “overreacting” to the proposed Islamic cultural center near Ground Zero. He said that while some degree of “deference” must be shown to some 9/11 families who don’t want the center nearby, “it would be wrong to so overreact to that, that we paint Islam with a brush of radical Muslim extremists that just want to kill Americans because we are Americans.”
Even though Christie included obligatory digs at Democrats and President Obama for somehow “playing political football” with the issue, his comments were still apparently too much for right-wing hate radio host Mark Levin. He unleashed on Christie last night during his radio show, and called the governor “absolutely dead wrong” and questioned Christie’s conservative credentials:
“Just because you clobber public sector unions, and you fight to cut your state’s budget, does not necessarily mean you are presidential material. He will see….It’s a matter of right and wrong. If the 9/11 families hadn’t stood up, if some of the most, you know, outspoken individuals in conservative media hadn’t spoken up, many, many people not only wouldn’t know about it, they wouldn’t care about it. And this is something we should care about. This is fundamental. So, sorry governor. You’re absolutely dead wrong. It’s not a political football game.“
Levin is right that Christie has been extremely conservative on budget issues: his budget proposal this year refused to extend a tax on earners over $400,000 — which would have generated $900 million for the state — but it did cut $820 million to public schools. He also vetoed a tax on residents with incomes over $1 million, which was designed to help fund property tax relief for senior citizens and the disabled, among other programs. According to the non-partisan Office of Legislative Services, due to Christie’s veto, “a retired couple living on a fixed income of $40,000 would see an increase of $1,320 in taxes under the governor’s plan while a family making $1.2 million would receive a tax cut of $11,598.”
Christie has been mentioned as a 2012 Republican nominee for president, and even Rush Limbaugh recently asked: “Is it wrong to love another man? Because I love Chris Christie.” Still, Christie does not appear to pass Levin’s notoriously strict litmus test for conservatives.