Christie reputation a burning building of its own

There are two decisively different visual narratives which developed last week in New Jersey politics – Newark mayor Cory Booker rescuing a woman from her burning house and Governor Chris Christie falling asleep at a Bruce Springsteen concert.

This is commentary from political blogger and cartoonist Rob Tornoe.

There are two decisively different visual narratives which developed last week in New Jersey politics – Newark mayor Cory Booker rescuing a woman from her burning house and Governor Chris Christie falling asleep at a Bruce Springsteen concert.

I know, it’s probably an unfair comparison. Unfortunately, Christie creates this perception problem himself with his increasing harsh rhetoric aimed at conservatives in Iowa instead of unemployed workers in Camden.

According to him, it’s their fault.

“We’re turning into a paternalistic entitlement society,” Christie said at the Bush Institute Conference on Taxes and Economic Growth. “When the American people no longer believe that this a place where only their willingness to work hard … determines their success in life then we’ll have a bunch of people sittin’ on a couch waiting for their next government check.”

Never mind he was saying this in a venue that acted to promote the failed economic policies of supply-side economics, the same shame Christie is trying to pass off to Garden State voters as economic development (corporate welfare, tax cuts for the rich, etc.). For a party that worships at the feet of Ronald Reagan, this type of rhetoric isn’t very hopeful or optimistic. If it weren’t so insulting to so many people, it might actually be worth laughing at.

It certainly fits in with how New Jerseyans view their governor. A recent Rutgers-Eagleton poll reported between 71 and 86 percent of respondents said the following terms fit Christie either very well or somewhat well: arrogant, stubborn, self-centered and bully.

Tom Moran, the editorial page editor of The Star-Ledger, suggested Christie’s “condescending” remarks were really an “audition for a spot on Mitt Romney’s ticket.” Some recent news events surrounding Christie may bolster Moran’s case and cause Christie to hasten his stay as governor.

According to the Government Accountability Office, Christie was ignoring real economic analysis when he suggested that costs were skyrocketing out of control on a new rail tunnel linking New Jersey to New York.

Why did he kill it? To raid the funds set aside for the project and put them into the state highway fund, allowing him to keep his promise of not raising state gas taxes. So much for making the tough decisions.

And what about the American Legislative Exchange Council (ALEC), a shadowy organization that uses corporate contributions to sell prepackaged conservative bills across the country? They are the organization behind Florida’s Stand Your Ground stature, and in New Jersey, they have Christie doing their bidding.

According to the Star-Ledger, at least three bills, one executive order and one agency rule accomplish the same goals set out by the ALEC using the same specific policies, most involving his union-busting, privatizing education agenda. Even worse, in eight passages contained in those documents, Christie’s initiatives and ALEC proposals line up almost word for word.

This coming from the politician who claims to be “his own man,” and Christie spokesman Michael Drewniak says, “the governor said to me, ‘Who’s ALEC?'” so I guess that means case closed.

People may classify me as a Christie hater (I’d advise them to look back at my cartoons Corzine administration before declaring my partisanship), but I’m still hopeful Christie can regain the promise he held when he was elected just three years ago. But in order to do that, he needs to remove those rose-colored glasses paid for by the Koch Brothers and get back to serving the needs of New Jerseyans.

“I’m telling the truth as I see it and I’m not looking to be loved,” Christie said.

Unfortunately, that truth is currently more about his healthy appetite for a place on the national stage than it is serving the people who elected him. Until that changes, he’s better use to Mitt Romney and the GOP than he is to you or me.

 

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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