This week Chris Christie was in Washington D.C., speaking at a National Republican Congressional Committee fundraiser. If nothing else, a couple of small details surrounding the speech help confirm that many (if not most) of the governor’s biggest fans are people from other states, who don’t have any grasp of just how unpopular, disingenuous and ineffective he actually is. Much of what they do know comes from YouTube, Twitter, and the GOP marketing machine; a mythology reinforced as Christie struts across America, trumpeting half-truth “accomplishments” and tossing red meat to partisan loyalists. Do his conservative fan-persons go home to fact-check his speeches after they’re done swooning? Of course not – that might shatter the illusion.
One reason for the non-Jersey adulation: Chris Christie says he is awesome, and people who don’t live here don’t know any better! Of course, to most Garden Staters (and probably at least a few of his allies), the governor’s self-aggrandizing has long jumped the shark. But for our neighbors across America who only see him in bits and pieces… well, they’re taking whatever Christie hands them, not reading the label, and gobbling it up. He’s street meat, or mystery pills from a mystery person, acquired in a nightclub bathroom. Truth is irrelevant – you’re under the influence of Chris Christie, and things will be getting weird.
For example, take this whopper, courtesy of @dcseth, who live-tweeted the governor’s speech to the NRCC:
Wow! 58% approval! That’s amazing! Except it’s not true. (Rutgers-Eagleton’s latest shows Christie at 46%, and that’s not a small discrepancy.) In a friendly echo chamber like a NRCC event, rhetorical masturbation is expected; flat-out lies, perhaps less so.
Further, a quick look at tweets urging Governor Christie to run for president shows that the vast majority of them don’t originate in New Jersey; they come instead from people who have in no way experienced the consequences of Christie’s policies or “leadership.” These fans come from places where New Jersey is typically an undesirable punchline of a state; in this context, Chris Christie is a custom-fit novelty whose stagecraft meshes perfectly with out-of-staters’ preconceived notions of New Jersey. And so, perhaps, the Rush Limbaugh-styled fetish worship a la “Christie porn” proves that Chrisite as caricature is in fact totally consistent with The Sopranos and Snooki. Yet when it comes to the job Christie has now, and the fulfillment or dereliction of his responsibilities – well, to borrow from the governor himself, they have absolutely zero “skin in the game.” Instead, their relationship with Chris Christie is like the one pre-teen girls have with Justin Beiber – a fabricated image of what their telepresence idol must be like, mentally compiled from YouTube clips and tweets:
@firstdibbs from New Bern, NC: “Really wish you were running for President, we need you there
@Rasselas from Florida: “it is only a hop, skip, and jump to 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. Please consider running… We need u.”
@ShannonBThomas from “the south”: “Hilarious Gov, That was great.”
This is who dreams of a Christie presidency – certainly not New Jerseyans, with our skyrocketing taxes and fees, reduced services, and the aire of douche-baggery emanating from our statehouse. This is why if a presidential election were held today, Christie would lose to Obama even as the president’s polling hits an historic low. Because those crowing “Christie for President” aren’t from New Jersey – they’re just a bunch of conservative beltway insiders, and people from other states who don’t know what they’re talking about.