5 Corrupt Things About New Jersey Governor Chris Christie
Photo Credit: AFP
Stay up to date with the latest headlines via email.
Since last October, Chris Christie has been embraced by President Obama, friended by Mark Zuckerberg, and praised by Bill Maher. In a political time of fracture he’s seemingly been the healer; in a time of discord, he’s been portrayed as leading the singers in Kumbaya -- all five verses.
Nonsense. The only true bipartisanship the governor has managed has been the delicate balance between his glistening public persona and the ugly reality of his stewardship of an essential northeastern state. He is extraordinarily deft at it: he can annoy the rowdies who wouldn’t invite him to CPAC yet still get the Koch brothers to welcome him to their table and happily help him write his laws. Christie knows that conservatives come in two main types: the loud bullies who always back the wrong horse and always steer him straight to the glue factory, and the stealth guys in the suits who have all the money.
Embrace the president after Superstorm Sandy and you enrage the former. Bill O’Reilly tried to blame Mitt Romney’s loss on it. One of the interchangable umbrage merchants at the Washington Times called for Christie’s excommunication. The governor even caused Laura Ingraham to bray loudly about him becoming a Democrat.
But the political genius of Chris Christie lies in his awareness that you can piss off some of the people some of the time, just so long as you don’t rock the billionaires’ boats. More over, sacrifice the correct group of the overheated -- like the ones still clinging to a Romney victory only they and Romney believed still possible -- and you suddenly look like you’re putting the public interest over political dogma, and you stand out like a beacon to milder liberals looking for somebody on the other side who just might possibly not be stark raving mad.
As Christie tries to hone this high-wire act on a national stage and shove the Marco Rubios and Jeb Bushes off the 2016 stage, it is instructive to realize that the act is not new -- only the venue is. Stage dramatic budget cuts in front of the gullible local media and they’ll write encomiums about your courage that the hurried national media will devour amid their limited research. The national guys may find out about the $28 million Christie cut from healthcare for women and the elderly; they’ll never be told about the $260 million in his budget wasted on an Atlantic City casino that reported $35 million in losses in just its first three months of operation.
The national media sees the hug with Obama and the daring pushback against “Corzine Democrats.” It never sees the state teetering on the verge of 10% unemployment, nor the seemingly impossible reality of Christie advocating tax cuts that would drain more than a billion dollars from the money the state is taking in, while he still managed to increase his budget by a whopping 6.8% from 2011 to 2012.
And Christie bipartisanship -- maintaining his own image despite vast piles of facts that contradict it at every turn -- runs through not merely legislation but also ethics. This is New Jersey we're talking about: the four governors elected before Christie were: 1) the guy who went back to private business and lost $1.6 billion in customer investments in about 18 months; 2) the guy who resigned with his wife at his side at a news conference during which he announced he was gay; 3) the woman who claimed black men competed with each other to see who could produce the most children out of wedlock, and then personally frisked one of them during a police ride-along; and 4) the anti-gun liberal who desperately tried to hold onto the governor’s mansion by promising to crack down on “welfare mothers.”