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Chris Christie: Stronger since the storm



 (Cartoon by Rob Tornoe)

(Cartoon by Rob Tornoe)

Back in 1978, cult leader Jim Jones poisoned members of his “People’s Temple” by encouraging them to commit “Revolutionary suicide” by drinking cyanide-laced grape-flavored Flavor Aid, which is similar to Kool-Aid. Since then, whenever an individual seems to dogmatically follow the word of a politician or leader who is irrational or nuts, they’re referred to as “drinking the Kool-Aid.”

This is commentary from political blogger and cartoonist Rob Tornoe.

Back in 1978, cult leader Jim Jones poisoned members of his “People’s Temple” by encouraging them to commit “Revolutionary suicide” by drinking cyanide-laced grape-flavored Flavor Aid, which is similar to Kool-Aid. Since then, whenever an individual seems to dogmatically follow the word of a politician or leader who is irrational or nuts, they’re referred to as “drinking the Kool-Aid.”

Liberals can’t step two feet these days without a conservative claiming they’re drinking Obama’s Kool-Aid. Despite his business-friendly, right-of-center policies (including a health care bill he stole from a conservative), Obama-hate has permeated the minds of conservatives fueled by right-wing media to believe he’s an illegitimate communist socialist Muslim hell-bent on tearing down every church in the country.

What does this have to do with Chris Christie? Well, Christie currently enjoys a 70 percent approval rating in a state that on the face of things couldn’t disagree more with his policies and beliefs.

Gay marriage, legalized marijuana, climate change, women’s healthcare funding – there are big items that a majority of New Jerseyans support that Christie has all but given the “shore bird salute” to, yet they still love him. Why?

Because they’ve all gulped super-sized jugs of Superstorm Sandy-flavored Kool-Aid.

Prior to Sandy striking our shores, Christie’s approval ratings sat at a respectable 56 percent, mostly on the back of taking on universally-hated items like six-figure payouts to retiring cops and firefighters. But once Sandy battered and bruised the Jersey Shore, Christie’s outspokenly bipartisan response caused his approval ratings to skyrocket upwards of 80 percent.

Six months later, Christie’s approval ratings have remained high, despite voters being less than enthusiastic about his handling of key issues. Rutgers-Eagleton’s June poll revealed 48 percent of voters disapprove of Christie’s handling on the economy, 50 percent disapprove on the job he’s done on taxes and 46 percent disapprove on how he’s handled education. But on Hurricane Sandy? The recovery effort has netted him an 86 percent approval rating. Only 10 percent disapprove, probably because they’re annoyed every time “stronger than the storm” gets stuck in their head.

In a state where registered Democrats outnumber registered Republicans two-to-one, it’s obvious this groundswell of support is mostly coming from the very group that should dislike Christie the most. Despite how the media portrays him, Christie is a family planning cutting, marriage equality-blocking conservative who only cares about progressive issues when his state is being blown to hell by a storm.



Christie has also been very media savvy when it comes to Sandy and knows how to milk his image as the savior of New Jersey for all it’s worth. Just last week, he released his Springsteen-heavy “Down The Shore, Everything’s Alright” playlist featuring songs by the Black Eyes Peas (for younger voters) and Frank Sinatra (for older voters). And just to prove my point, New Jerseyans will still love Christie despite including “Have A Nice Day” on his list, which is probably Bon Jovi’s worst song.

Matt Katz at the Philadelphia Inquirer looked into why Christie was so popular with Democrats, and he came up with five main reasons:

-Christie has developed close ties with a handful of key Democrats, and in some cases, refused to call out their transgressions.



- With a bag filled with millions in tax dollars, Christie can play Johnny Appleseed to key pro-Christie Democrats who chalk up their support to his generosity.



- At this point, Christie’s re-election opponent, state Sen. Barbara Buono has no shot at winning this race. Politicians like a winner, and eight in 10 Democrats think Christie will crush Buono in November.

– Many of the Democrats who support Christie agree with his fiscal conservative approach on education and union issues.

– Democrats cite Christie’s irresistible personal charms as a reason for their support (although it’s unclear what they liked more – Christie’s boardwalk tirade with an ice cream cone in hand, or threatening to drop the f-bomb at the Republican National Convention if they didn’t air his promo video.

– Polls and interviews with Democrats indicate Christie has irresistible personal charms, including a sense of humor, tough-guy leadership style, and willingness to do the unexpected, like praise President Obama during Sandy.



So sorry Democrats, despite your complaints and “support” for Barbara Buono, you’re the reason Chris Christie is going to be overwhelmingly re-elected as Governor. When it comes to Christie, Democrats in New Jersey are like an abused spouse who sticks around because once, in the distant past, their partner was nice to them and once bought them flowers.

Disagree? I think I know what you’re drinking.

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Rob Tornoe is a political cartoonist and a WHYY contributor. See more of his work at RobTornoe.com, and follow him on twitter @RobTornoe.

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