Sunday, March 1, 2015

Chris Christie: Governor Wack-A-Mole

Gov. Christie wants America to believe he tells it like it is. He wants us to believe he's not afraid to stand up for his beliefs, and he says his record proves it. Last week at CPAC Christie sat down with conservative commentator, Laura Ingrahm for a Q&A on a range of topics, and let America know that:

"I care about fighting the fights that are worth fighting"

Except that based on his record, the only fights he deems worthy of fighting are against his constituents, not for them. While other states in the region have recovered from the Great Recession, NJ is still in a post-recession shambles, with little to show for it but 7 credit downgrades and a second-to-last rank for job growth. Yea, I'm lovin' that 'Jersey Comeback'!

But boy-oh-boy, are his town hall meetings taxpayer-funded campaign stops a huge success! In case you couldn't get to one (because they're held during the day when most folks are at work) he's even got a You Tube channel with 7 pages of these things. (Full disclosure: I make an appearance in one of them). 

Whether it's having no regrets about calling a Navy Seal an idiot, ("He's an idiot. I don't have any regret about it at all"), or telling a Sandy volunteer to "sit down and shut up", no other elected official has spoken to and about constituents with such bullying disrespect, and still managed to get re-elected. At first, many found his style refreshing. After four years of Gov. Jon Corzine, who was long on cash and short on warmth and political savvy, Republicans voted the party line and Democrats voted the party machine in 2009 to elect their very own Tony Soprano—telling it like it is and taking no prisoners! And despite his horrendous job at restoring NJ's economy after the Great Recession, they would do so again in 2013. 

But that act is all Christie has to run on, and it's getting old. Personally, I like my 'Rude Jersey' on TV, not in the statehouse. Tony, Snookie and the rest represent the very best of the worst Jersey stereotypes. And they have about as much chance of getting elected to public office as any musician has of beating Bruce Springsteen in a Garden State popularity contest. 

The facts are that NJ hasn't recovered all the jobs lost during the Great Recession, the pension system and the transportation trust fund are in a shambles, Atlantic City is bleeding jobs, many big pharmas pulled up stakes and left taking thousands of jobs with them, school funding is down almost $6 billion, property taxes (the bane of NJ) rose on average 20% in his first term, and he's slashed services to just about every constituent group in the state except the super wealthy and corporations, all while jet-setting around the country on the taxpayer's dime

All Christie has to run on is his bluster. His leadership has turned into a game of Wack-a-Mole. NJ residents are fed up. Many are showing up at town hall meetings specifically to bait him. And the more he smacks them down, the more they keep popping up over and over again. 

One thing we know about crowd mentality is that they love to follow. So, look for more Wack-A-Mole behavior across the country as Christie tries to defend his abysmal record out on the presidential campaign trail. It just might make this round of GOP primaries more fun than 2012's.