“In politics, stupidity is not a handicap.”
“Do they only hire stupid people at Chasing New Jersey?”
What a couple of weeks. The Governor of New Jersey has had his moments. Some great, some good and some…well… He’s had a history of going after his enemies and escalating minor encounters to national news stories. Remember the boardwalk ice cream incident? Or “Sit down and shut up”? He’s brash and direct and seems to be most comfortable in an adversarial role with others. The former US Attorney turned Governor, turned FOT (Friend of Trump) is at it again. This time things seem different.
Chris Christie the candidate was aggressive and confident. Attacking opponents with conviction from a position of strength. Chris Christie the Governor was very similar. Taking on New Jersey sacred cows like the teacher’s and public workers unions in the name of standing up for working and middle class taxpayers. His ability to work across the aisle with Democrats earned him a huge re-election margin.
All the talk at the time was about a run for the White House in 2016. It didn’t go well. After his own campaign sputtered and stalled, he made a political calculated and you might call courageous move to endorse Donald Trump. The endorsement speech itself helped Trump take Marco Rubio off the front page after Rubio landed punches on ‘The Donald’ during the previous night’s nationally televised debate.
Fast forward to the summer of 2016, no VP slot, a failed attempt to pass a ‘Tax Fairness’ plan and the ongoing saga of #Bridgegate still dominating the local news cycle. He gets angry with any member of the media that brings up the term. In a reversal of his comments on “Ask the Governor” where he came off as a big fan of mine, we sparred on the radio over his support of a hike in the gas tax and he took some shots at my intelligence and professional ability .
More recently he lashed out at Sibile Marcellus for asking whether Bridgegate cost him the VP slot and at Tara Jakeway for being “stupid”. Some may say this is the old Christie coming at people and standing his ground. I simply don’t think that’s the case. The Governor seems off his game and these outbursts are evidence of his actually losing his temper. Certainly not a purposeful attack to make a point and show the strength worthy of a man who should be a national player. Real anger, frustration and bitterness at the way the media has portrayed him and his administration is coming through loud and clear. Given some of the attacks on him over the past few years it’s certainly understandable that he’d be annoyed and mad. There’s more to this. He’s a guy who was actually courted to run for president in 2012 to save the GOP and take back the White House.
From there to 26% approval rating in his home state is a long way to fall.
Beyond his arrogance and attitude a big part of the problem with his reputation and polling is the fact that he’s surrounded by back room politicians and people who would never be able to earn the public trust. The trial of former top aides Bill Baroni and Bridget Anne Kelly starts soon. The testimony offered and evidence revealed in the effort of two insiders desperate to avoid jail time will likely not help the already awful picture of the Governor and his team.
If the Governor truly wants to get his reputation back to where it was in the early part of his first term he’s got to reassess his public reactions to tough questions. Answer questions. Propose solutions. Stop being so defensive. Perhaps he should look into embracing our message of #DigginIn. Maybe join the fight for policy changes that focus on the driving issue for most people in NJ…making Jersey more affordable to live, work and retire.
Who is the real Chris Christie? Is he the leader we elected to fight for us in 2009? Or is he the guy who’s been portrayed as a selfish bully driven only by raw ambition? The next few months will provide the answer.
Many people would love nothing more than to report on the next fight Governor Christie picks with the tax raising, entitled, professional politicians in Trenton. The middle and working class Jersey residents have had enough and are looking for a champion. Yes Governor, even those of us working at Chasing News would look forward to reporting that story instead of endless #Bridgegate follow up segments.
Maybe this is a stupid suggestion but..ya gotta drop the nonsense about “Tax Fairness” as a justification of raising taxes and get back to work.