Is that angry man with the ice cream cone our next president? He certainly seems to think so. As a lover of politics you really can’t help being impressed by Chris Christie’s raw political skill. His approval rating among Democrats is over 50% and for all the talk about Christie’s problems with the Republican base, he’s currently leading the Republican 2016 field in Iowa . Not to mention that he’s cruising to an easy reelect in a blue state that went for President Obama by 18 points.
It’s a miracle that anyone can pull off those kinds of numbers. How does he do it? We all know Christie as the brash, in your face, Jersey straight talker of ice cream cone on the boardwalk fame. But when you dig just below the surface of that big personality, Christie gets a lot more complicated.
Take just this week for example. First he pleased conservatives and angered liberals by vetoing popular gun control measures and then he pleased liberals and angered conservatives by signing a bill banning gay conversion therapy (kudos for that, by the way). Where does he really stand on either of these issues? I haven’t the slightest idea.
When you think about it, Christie’s positions on virtually every issue are kind of murky at best. Take LGBT rights. Christie banned gay conversion therapy and has said that he believes sexuality is a trait people are born with. On the other hand, Christie vetoed New Jersey’s same sex marriage law suggesting that marriage be put on the ballot instead.
What about the hot button topic of immigration reform? Christie has made courting Latinos a centerpiece of his reelection campaign. Yet when it comes to actually taking a stance on the fate of undocumented workers in our country, Christie has hedged, calling for a solution that’s “fair.” Wow. I’m overwhelmed by his audacity and specificity. These two issues aren’t outliers, they’re the norm. Will the real Chris Christie please stand up! But I’m not done.
There is climate change. Abortion rights. Gun control. Teacher’s pensions. Oh wait, we definitely know where he stands there. But the point is that on issue after issue, he’s incredibly hard to pin down.
This is the brilliance of Christie. His persona’s all Bruce Springsteen and his policy’s all Mitt Romney. Your head may say no when you look at his lame and destructive policies but your heart says yes because it feels like he’s genuine, like he’s got blood in his veins, like he’s tellin’ you just what he thinks and he does just enough on the policy front to keep you on board.
That’s why even in today’s far right GOP primary Christie will turn on the tough, focus on the parts of his record that are conservative, yell at some–especially the teachers–and win the day. Man, he’s that good. And much as I like Hillary Clinton, Democrats, get ready.
I can’t believe it’s even possible that Hillary could get Tracy Flicked a second time…but being the most qualified, best prepared candidate doesn’t guarantee winning (a note to presidents John Kerry, Al Gore). Americans vote with their hearts and then look for reasons to validate the choice the heart leads them to. So if Hillary wants to make us swoon, she’s going to have to get in touch with her inner Springsteen.
And it wouldn’t hurt to yell at the Koch brothers or chase a bunch of investment bankers down the street gesticulating wildly with a non-fat frozen yogurt cone.