New Jersey Governor Chris Christie was the "Rock Star" for the conservative moment from the moment he took office in Trenton following the 2009 upset against embattled, entitled incumbent Jon Corzine. He told off teachers in town hall meetings who demanded more pay for their work:
"You know what, then you don't have to do it." Loud applause followed.
Another lady complained about the libraries closing in her city. "Unlike the federal government, lady, we cannot print money."
He told it like it is, and that's that way it was. And I liked it that way.
So he said too much sometimes. Yes, he engaged in name-calling here and there. Yet he stood his ground as needed
He's pro-life. That scores points with many. He refused to sign off on a gay marriage bill, demanding that the voters in New Jersey make that decision through ballot initiative. One of his key phrases, at the time, which defended that decision: "I am in lock-step with President Obama on this issue." His talking point became the balking point for Democrats in the statehouse, who resisted floating a voter initiative. He's backing away from climate change as a serious policy issue, even if the New Jersey coastline has been ravaged twice. He wants less government, lower taxes, and local control, so he announced in his first major press conference after his election. Notice that he did not talk about cutting spending, but at least New Jersey had the highest rating for corruption-busting.
In 2012, Christie was the Keynote speaker at the Republican National Convention. Before making his case to the convention, he rallied support for California Republicans, glibly mocking the Golden State's "Moonbeam" Governor Jerry Brown: "Jerry Brown? Jerry Brown? That guy's an old retread." To the convention he esteemed our entitlement classes: "Our seniors will not bankrupt this nation for the future generation." He stood up to President Obama, saying: "Real Leaders change polls, not follow them."
Then Superstorm Sandy thrashed the Northeast. I understood his warm affection working with President Barack Obama during Hurricane Irene, then Superstorm Sandy. The residents of the Gulf Coast did not face the delays which frustrated relief and recovery in the North East following those terrible storms. If President Obama has kept his promises, then he has kept his promises, and the Governor of New Jersey has no problem honoring that fulfillment.
When he went on the attack in December 2012, thundering at the Republicans in Washington, specifically the House Majority, conservatives and Republicans started to worry. The pork-laded bill which was going to grant millions of dollars to disparate interests in Alaska and elsewhere besides Sandy-stricken states just offended lawmakers, and the conservatives who want to cut the spending even while they help the country did the right thing and rejected the bill.
Frankly, I was willing to see Christie's bravado as a brave attempt to shore up a disparate caucus, especially following the unexpected loss of the Presidency, in spite of unprecedented job losses, anemic business development, and an unprecedented increase in government dependence. Then CPAC 2013 said "No thanks" to Christie. I saw that as a win for the New Jersey Governor, since he faces reelection in two-to-one Democratic New Jersey, where conservative principles have not taken root, as they should, in spite of a recent spate of Republican governors.
Christie still shoots for gun control, a non-starter for any serious leader, politician, or executive. Newark and Trenton have outrageous crime rates. and residents have even pleaded for the National Guard to step in step up law and order. Christie opposes gay aversion therapy, and he has even admitted that he agrees with liberal Democratic New York Governor Andrew Cuomo "98%" of the time. Now Christie has gone on the attack on Twitter, trying to back-pedal from his previously open censoriousness against the House GOP for not passing the pork-laden Sandy-aid bill: that kind of double-dealing is not leadership. It appears that instead of changing the polls, Christie is following them, trying to ease back into a centrist position to maintain his high poll ratings.
I supported Governor Christie's tough talk on cutting taxes, cutting the pork projects, including the outrageous tunnel expansion which would have put New Jersey billions of dollars more in arrears. He stood up to the public sector unions, refusing to spend more tax dollars, while taking from the poorest as well as the business interests in the state. He wants to pass a real voucher program, where California at best mustered an open enrollment bill for all public schools, which died in the state senate two weeks ago.
Governor Christie looks more and more like the moderate which the New Jersey Star-Ledger called him out to be. There's nothing wrong with being moderate, or conservative, or even liberal, as long as it’s based on principle, as long as a man or woman is willing to look facts in the face and change one's mind. His stance on gun control, his uproarious behavior with national Republicans, and his attempt to strand away his previous support for pork without purpose have diminished his credibility considerably.
Real leaders change polls, Governor. Right now, it seems that they have sure changed you!