There are many reasons to dislike Chris Christie. The biggest probably being one’s political ideology or party affiliation. He has been called many names over the past several years, the nicest of which is probably “bully.” But, there are two MAJOR attributes Christie does not receive enough credit for. The first being, he puts the people of his state over all the demagoguery and political theater usually associated with a nationally political player. Second, and probably less commented on, is his intelligence and finesse.
What, you say. There is neither finesse, nor intelligence, you say. That, my friend, is where you are gravely mistaken. Let me begin with the intelligence. It is evident, purely from the Governor’s academic and professional accolades, that he is not an unintelligent man. From what I gather, people seem to think that his, for lack of a better word, crude style stems from a misunderstanding of the issues. I, on the other hand, seem to think it’s a calculated, and rather effective tool. Let me explain.
Anyone who knows anything about New Jersey knows that, for about the past century, it has been a hot bed of political machines, corruption, and non-reform. Every single echelon of the state structure was saturated with favors, kickbacks, and, in certain cases, bribery. Being a US Attorney who often went after political corruption in the Garden State, Christie knew all of this. So, he decided as Governor to do something no one had ever had the gall to do– be brutally honest about the inner workings of the state. Obviously, this ruffled a few feathers, but overall, it was ingenious. By pulling the rug out from under the bureaucrats, he was able to offer effective, though controversial, reform.
Now, on to his finesse. Over the past few days, footage has been circulating major news outlets of Christie firing off at Speaker of The House John Boehner for not holding a vote on a bill that would help Hurricane Sandy victims across New York and New Jersey. Christie’s testimony is quite damning, since it is: 1) coming from within the ranks of the Republican Party; and 2) coming from the poster-boy of said party. Although this is obviously a move motivated by frustration, I believe it was well thought out, and, frankly, one of the smoothest political moves to happen in sometime. First, Christie looks like a non-partisan champion (which, in this particular instance, is a sound description). He is taking on his own party in order to get things done for the people of his state, both Democrat and Republican.
But, one thing that many people seem to have not picked up on, is the fact that Christie has been praising House Majority Leader Eric Cantor for his work on trying to get the bill passed. I think it’s shocking that all these political commentators haven’t picked up on this brilliant move. By attacking the hugely unpopular Boehner, Christie not only distances himself from the Speaker, but seems to be standing up against the bureaucracy of Washington. And, by praising Cantor, he is lining himself up with the man who has internally sabotaged Boehner at every turn. A majority of the Republican infighting comes from the rocky relationship Cantor and Boehner have. Boehner seems to be a relic of the old Republican party: a party that wasn’t so extreme and was willing to compromise for the good of the country. Cantor is the heart and soul of the party today; he is the man who came up with the idea of voting in lockstep to block the passage of any bill that didn’t reflect extremely conservative (and, coincidentally, extremely business friendly) laws. The Republican party of today and tomorrow is indeed that of Eric Cantor, and not John Boehner. By endorsing Cantor while denouncing Boehner, Christie has moved himself into a position where he can’t possibly lose. Either Boehner tries to win him over with the bill, or Cantor fights for it because of the glowing endorsement.
I’m not saying I praise everything that Chris Christie says or does. What I am saying is, before one judges him, one should make sure he or she sits down and analyzes his strategy. He is not the brute everyone thinks he is. Any man in today’s political climate, who can make things happen with both Corey Booker and Eric Cantor is not someone who is unintelligent or tactless. He puts himself in a position where the more powerful people in the country need him as much as he needs them. He knows how to maneuver political players in a way that I think hasn’t been seen in quite sometime. It isn’t the serpentine like movement of Eric Cantor, but rather reminiscent of Teddy Roosevelt using the bully pulpit. I think Chris Christie is a man who hasn’t even begun to reach the height of his political power, and frankly, I’m a bit excited to see if he can change the way this country does business.