Politics & Policy

Chris Christie Is Not Good at This

(Reuters photo: Eduardo Munoz; inset image via Twitter)
Governor Christie was photographed soaking up some sun with family on an empty public beach that was closed to New Jersey taxpayers.

It’s no secret that New Jersey governor Chris Christie has been having a tough time recovering politically after he was accused of colluding to shut down bridge lanes for his own political benefit. 

He wasn’t charged, of course, but any connection with any scandal is always tough on the ol’ image. So just how is Governor Christie working to come out of it?

By using a public beach — even though a lot of public beaches were closed in a budget dispute — for his own family-beach-day benefit, of course! 

Yep, irony is dead, and so is Governor Christie’s career — especially considering how he’s handled getting caught.  

When Chris Christie was asked at a press conference on Sunday whether he had gotten any sun, he said he hadn’t. When the photos of him on that beach came out, his spokesman, Brian Murray clarified: 

“He did not get any sun. He had a baseball hat on.”

(Note: Just how in the world Mr. Murray was able to get those words out without laughing, crying, or punching his own face remains unclear.) 

Later, in a radio interview, Christie moved on from attempts at deception to plain insensitivity, simply stating of other New Jersey residents who couldn’t access the beach: “Well, I’m sorry . . . they’re not the governor.”

This is, of course, factually correct. People other than Chris Christie are indeed not the governor, but do you know who they are? They’re the taxpayers, as in, you know the people who have been spending their hard-earned money funding a beach that is supposed to be accessible to them

“This is a residence,” he said of the mansion adjacent to the beach where he is staying. ”We have a residence in Princeton as well. And that place is a place where people can go and tour, but they can’t if the government is closed. Am I supposed to move out and stay in a hotel?”

First of all, let me say that I for one am incredibly confused as to why Governor Christie was talking about having to move out and stay in a hotel (?) when he had literally just said that he also has a house in Princeton. Second of all, no one is trying to kick him out of the mansion — they’re just going to, understandably, have a harder time trusting that he has the people’s best interests at heart when they have such a clear image showing how their struggles don’t impact him at all, and the knowledge that some taxpayer money also goes to the upkeep of that mansion probably makes this sting a little worse. 

Sadly, today could have been a great opportunity for Governor Christie to actually gain political capital, if he had just had the sense to play it right. Imagine if, instead, he had decided to forgo that family beach day — just like his constituents had to forgo it — and then shared that decision of solidarity for all those constituents to see on his social media.  

That’s what a good, smart politician would have done, but unfortunately, that just doesn’t describe Chris Christie anymore. It used to; I still remember when he was supposed to be Republicans’ Next Big Thing. Hell, I didn’t agree with him on everything, but even I still kind of liked him, because he just seemed to have that “something” that people like. Personally, he kind of reminded me of “America’s Tough but Lovable Dad.” You know, someone who would make you afraid to miss curfew, but warm your heart playing his banjo around a campfire while you all laughed and roasted wieners. 

Did Governor Chris Christie do anything illegal? No, of course not. But it is bad optics, and it shows that — even after seven years of serving in his position — Governor Christie seems unable to understand that service is actually what his job is supposed to be about. 

I’m at work right now, even though it’s my day off. Why? Because I didn’t finish everything that I needed to finish over the normal work week, and that’s how life goes. Why isn’t Govenor Christie doing this, too? After all, not to diminish my own skills, but I’m pretty sure that there are more people out there who are depending on having access to a beach than there are people out there depending on having access to one of my hot takes in order to have the holiday weekend that they’ve planned to have. 

The bottom line is this (and it’s almost so obvious that I cannot even believe I have to say it): If your state is stuck in a budget dispute that has left families unable to go to government-owned beaches on a holiday weekend, then literally the last thing you should be doing is going to a government-owned beach on your holiday weekend instead of helping solve that problem for the people you were elected to represent. 


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