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Man on a doomed mission

Sunday, August 1st, 2010

Nobody could ever accuse New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie of easing into his job.  His energy impresses, says Chris Satullo in this week’s Centre Square essay, even if his ideas don’t always do the same.

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Ever been new on the job? You show up early, work hard, stay late, trying to impress. After a couple of days a veteran colleague sidles over to your desk.

“Hey, kid, slow down,” he whispers. “You’re making the rest of us look bad.”

I wonder if any of the nation’s other 49 governors have had that chat yet with New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie.

He’s seized hold a job that leaves other state executives looking flummoxed and peevish. He seems to be having a grand old time smashing the crockery in Trenton.

He issues sweeping executive orders at the rate other folks eat pistachios

He swoops into Atlantic City and takes over the casino district.

He slashes spending here, bashes public unions there, with abandon.

Going straight at New Jersey’s gnarliest issue, he rams through a 2.5 percent cap on local property taxes.  When mayors grouse (correctly) that this is just more arbitrary buck-passing by Trenton, sniffs: Just wait a few weeks and I’ll send you a “tool kit” that’ll show you how to be smart as I.

Clearly, Christie didn’t run for governor just because he liked the thread count in the sheets at Drumthwacket.

He’s on a mission.

I think many elements of his mission are wrongheaded, in familiar ways. (Must be something about the name Christie …)

But that doesn’t stop me from having a sneaking admiration for the way this man has said, “Well, I’m governor so, by God, I’m going to govern.”

I’m less impressed than others at how he confronts the teachers union. It takes guts for a Democrat to do that; but teachers aren’t part of Christie’s base. He can afford to rile them.

I’d be more impressed if a Republican ever looked at his affluent base and said, “You know, now is not the time for tax cuts.  We’ve got a huge budget hole to fill, and it just can’t be filled by cutting out waste.”

Don’t expect that from Christie.  The Wall Street Journal editorial page swoons over him precisely because he’s making a bold, last stand for the intellectually exhausted Reaganite philosophy that has ruled this land for 20 years.

It’s so much easier to be decisive when you’re in thrall to a simple idea that ignores reality.

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