US Attorney Chris Christie became the governor of New Jersey in 2009 following the failed tenure of failed plutocrat Jon Corzine, who had bought his way into the US Senate then the Governor’s mansion in Trenton. A refreshing blast, a bombastic fresh breeze compared the hot air of the Obama Administration, and every other government entity based on making Big Government Bigger, Christie stole the spotlight.
He stood up to constituents throughout the Garden State. He told off teachers who demanded more money and benefits, even though students were getting less education and the tax payers were getting less for their tax dollars. He hammered home the point that Gov. Corzine had raised taxes one hundred and ten times. Using broad “Augustan” powers granted to the New Jersey Governor (per Washington Post Columnist George Will), Christie cut taxes, spending, and upended the spending spree.
Overnight, he turned into a rock star for the Right, for the Tea Party, and for everyone who was looking for a “Republican who could talk” (per Stanford University professor and syndicated columnist Thomas Sowell). He defended his tough talking stance on FOX News and MSNBC. He rejected massive government projects, including a subway tunnel which would “ease traffic”, but not ease the tax burden on New Jersey. Bus fares had already doubled just to make up for heavy state costs. Public sector employees were receiving 96% of their pensions and benefits bought and paid for out of Trenton. The “gimme money and get my vote” collusion of statehouse and union hall had come to an end with Christie, who survived death threats from union leaders, in part by working with private sector union interests who represent the Trenton statehouse.
With 2011 came the whisperings of a Christie campaign for President. Front-runner Romney was watered-down rum, and the rest were just that: “the rest”. Christie turned down the idea of a last-minute presidential run, more interested to serve as a Red State Governor in a Blue State where he could steer the government back into the black. He was real, he was big, and he posed a threat to any double-dealing Democrat who would talk up a good game that everyone can get what the government promises, yet no one would have to pay for it. “It’s not my time,” was his answer. He rebuffed once again, even though conservatives at the Reagan Library in Simi Valley asked him to reconsider his refusal to run for President in 2012. The weak Republican field of Presidential candidates remained weak, and the weak front-runner ran against himself and his conservative party members until the very end, when President Obama very weakly won reelection.
Referring back to Christie’s second rebuff, I recall one of the women in the audience pleading with Christie: “Governor, we need you.” This is the rhetoric coming from conservatives today: “We need you”? The whole concept behind conservatism is not needing government, not needing the right people in power to do the right things, but getting the government to do as little as possible, and leaving the right things to the right people: you and me.
Summer 2012, and Christie was fighting with people along the New Jersey Boardwalk. In 2011, He had shouted: “Get the hell off the beach” in the face of Hurricane Irene. 2012 and Superstorm Sandy showed up, and look who else showed up: President Obama, with a big hug and a healthy does of gratitude. At the time, I did not care. Twice, horrific storms had torn up the New Jersey coastline, and any help from the federal government was good help. Then Christie censured the Republican majority in the House of Representatives for refusing to pass the pork-laden emergency federal aid, subsidies which went far and wide to unaffected constituencies, far from the North East. I gave Christie a pass, convinced that he was shaking up the Republicans to get them to focus again.
Then came his attacks on the NRA, which had exposed the hypocrisy of President Obama’s stance on gun control. “Reprehensible” was his response, followed by his push for tougher, irresponsible gun control laws, all while Trenton and Camden are crime-wave wastelands, and “gun-free” Chicago with the highest murder rate in 2012. His take on teacher tenure was not enough. He coddles up with the Democratic hoi polloi. He threw Missouri US Senate candidate Todd Akin under the bus because of one stray remark. He agrees with Democratic Governor of New York Andrew Cuomo 98% of the time. Now he’s calling a special election to replace deceased US Senator Frank Lautenberg, a politically savvy choice which promotes his reelection chances while costing taxpayers millions and doing nothing for his party or his country.
How clear it is today, but not so sweet: Christie has read his own headlines, and they have gone to his head. No lap-band surgery can decrease the increased sense of self which has swelled within the governor. What a disappointment, but a much-needed disillusionment, a disannulling of the silly notion that one man can save a country, can have all the answers.