This is commentary from political blogger and cartoonist Rob Tornoe.
You can’t turn on the news, pick up a newspaper or read a story online without tripping over someone pontificating about Christie’s chances in a 2016 Presidential Election we have no clue he’s going to run for. Every decision Christie makes these days – Hurricane Sandy recovery, sale of the state lottery, marijuana dispensaries – is now followed by the mandatory, “How does this help/hurt his chances in 2016?”
Case in point – Christie’s decision to have a secret weight-loss surgery, an issue he’s dealt with for the last 20 years. As he explained, “For me, this is about turning 50 and looking at my children and wanting to be there for them.”
The media’s obsessiveness about this story and its potential implications for 2016, now going on for the third straight day, isn’t surprising. “Fat politician attempts to lose weight” is a juicy story on its own. Add to that a personality-plus pol who was seen just a couple months ago scarfing down donuts on “The Late Show with David Letterman,” and you have the perfect storm of media coverage.
Christie has fascinated the media ever since he burst onto the scene as a hard-nosed U.S. Attorney. Putting away long-term political dirtbags like Sharpe James and Wayne Bryant gave Christie a reputation as a no-nonsense agent of change, and his decision to run against Jon “I lost $2 billion” Corzine locked the media’s interest in all things Chris Chrsite.
During that 2009 race, Christie (who’s no slouch when it comes to fundraising) was able to use all the news attention to overcome Corzine’s overwhelming advantage in campaign funds, and poor Independent gubernatorial candidate Chris Daggett didn’t have a chance to gain media traction, despite ending up with 5.8 percent of the vote.
This time around, Democratic gubernatorial candidate Barbara Buono is on the other side of the Christie machine. Her campaign was always going to face the uphill battle of taking on an extremely popular incumbent governor, but she seems to be becoming more and more obscure as the days go on, leading some to refer to her as “Dawn Quixote.”
Even I’m not immune to falling prey to the Christie juggernaught. Regular readers will note that I am constantly drawing the governor, while this is my first cartoon featuring Buono. Maybe it’s the Howard Stern effect – he’s such a polarizing figure, people can’t help but be invested in everything he has to say. Or maybe it’s simply refreshing for people and journalists to have a politician who’s willing to don a fleece and call “bullshit” on things from time to time.
Unfortunately, I don’t know where all this leaves the Buono campaign. At this point, it’ll take her getting caught yelling at a voter on the Boardwalk while clutching an ice cream cone to get any decent media coverage of her campaign. That is, if nothing is going on with Christie first.—–
Rob Tornoe is a political cartoonist and a WHYY contributor. See more of his work at RobTornoe.com, and follow him on twitter @RobTornoe.