Chris Christie Is an Extreme Right-Winger -- Don't Fall for His "Moderate" Act

        From the moment he was declared the winner in his reelection campaign, Gov.
Chris Christie (R-N.J.) has been billed as a new kind of Republican. Is it a
fair characterization? Yes and no.
        Yes, this likely presidential candidate has done a few things other GOP
politicians don't usually do. Yes, he has won re-election in a traditionally
Democratic state. And yes, for a few weeks he was actually cordial to
President Obama. Even considering the context -- he only won against an
underfunded opponent and he was only nice to the president when asking for
hurricane relief funds -- these are, indeed, rare accomplishments for a
        That said, these atypical parts of Christie's record have little to do with
the concrete policies that he has touted and that he would probably champion
if he were elected president. On that score, Christie isn't new at all. He
is the opposite -- a Bush/Cheney-esque neoconservative promoting the old
politics of division and ignorance.
        Take, for instance, Christie's declarations about civil liberties.
        A few months ago, Christie alluded to 9/11 when calling criticism of the
National Security Administration "dangerous." Then, in truly Cheney-esque
fashion, he warned that "the next attack that comes, that kills thousands of
Americans as a result, people are going to be looking back." Christie's
insinuation, of course, was that if America is hit again, it will rightly
blame those who dared to question the NSA's mass surveillance programs.
        Yet, in his eagerness to instill fear, Christie failed to address the
serious constitutional concerns about the NSA programs. Worse, he didn't
mention that, as ProPublica recently reported, "there is no evidence" that
such surveillance has stopped terrorist attacks or is making the country
        It is a similar situation when it comes to budget issues. Christie has
pushed a Bush-like agenda of tax breaks for the wealthy and cuts to social
services, education and retirement benefits. He has portrayed this agenda as
proof that he is fearlessly "advocating for the taxpayer." Yet, as the New
York Times recently reported, Christie has also channeled Bush by cheerily
handing out hundreds of millions of dollars worth of wasteful taxpayer
subsidies to huge corporations.
        Then there is the fight against climate change. It should be a cause
Christie passionately endorses, considering the ample evidence that climate
change is intensifying storms, like the 2012 hurricane that pummeled his
state. Instead, like a standard-issue Republican politician, he is in the
climate-change denial camp.
        As the Newark Star-Ledger notes, Christie has "been a catastrophe on the
environment, draining $1 billion from clean energy funds and calling a
cease-fire in the state's fight against climate change." More specifically,
Mother Jones magazine reports that Christie "got rid of the Office of
Climate Change and Energy within the Department of Environmental Protection
shortly after taking office, withdrew the state from the Northeast's cap and
trade plan known as the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative (and) weakened
the state's renewable energy standard." Meanwhile, when a local radio
correspondent asked him about the scientific connection between climate
change and superstorms, Christie angrily brushed off the query by declaring
that "liberal public radio always has an agenda."
        As he prepares to run for president, Christie is betting that his
dangerously outdated policy agenda will be obscured by his seemingly novel
style. He is betting, in other words, that the media will ignore his record,
fetishize his bluster and thus shower him with all the cliches ("tough,"
"determined," "straight talking," etc.) that tend to dominate presidential
campaign coverage.
        It is certainly a cynical bet. But it is not a stupid one in an era that so
often replaces inquiry with hagiography and makes the old seem new again.
        David Sirota is the best-selling author of the books "Hostile Takeover,"
"The Uprising" and "Back to Our Future." Email him at,
follow him on Twitter @davidsirota or visit his website at

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