What happens to New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie now? Will he campaign for the Republican nominee? Will he settle back into New Jersey politics exclusively? Not since William Taft graced the White House in the early 20th century has there been a national political presence like Christie. Larger than life both physically and emotionally, Christie plays the political game like a blitzing middle linebacker: If he zeroes in on you, you’ll feel it.
Christie is not yet ready to be president, though, because he lacks sufficient executive experience. Perhaps the biggest problem President Obama has is a lack of problem-solving experience. Through no fault of his own, Obama was handed a damaged economy, and he promptly made it worse because he had no frame of reference in economic matters. He hired a bunch of liberal people who sold him on the preposterous idea that the federal government could manage the private sector. Disaster.
New Jersey is a mess: the highest taxes in the nation and an unemployment rate of 9.4 percent. Unions have a stranglehold on education and public services. The state has run up a $33 billion debt. In addition, the insidious TV program “Jersey Shore” is now the projected image of the Garden State. Just when you thought it couldn’t get any worse than Tony and Carmela Soprano, here comes Snooki.
So Christie should do what he’s been called to do: solve difficult problems. As a federal prosecutor, he successfully nailed a variety of bad guys, including gang members, child pornographers and the terrorists who tried to attack Fort Dix. Christie is a tough guy who brooks no nonsense. Most Americans admire that.
There is a sea change going on politically in this country. Obama is a cool, composed guy who inspired hope, especially among minorities and younger Americans. The president’s confidence is still on display, but his record speaks for itself. A new ABC News-Washington Post poll says that 55 percent of Americans now want a Republican in the White House.
That Republican will not be Christie, but someday, it could happen. We are living in a complicated, dangerous age, and many folks are confused. The nation needs direction and a clear pathway. Christie is blunt. He describes the problem, tells you what he’s going to do about it and also tells you to go nuke yourself if you don’t like it. As long as the problems get solved, he can get away with that kind of presentation. But, as Obama has learned, if things don’t improve, it will get mighty hot under the Christie collar.
I’ve never met the governor, but I have deep roots in Jersey. I don’t like what has happened to the state. If Christie can turn things around, the next stop may well be Pennsylvania Avenue. That would be quite a change for that venue — and one that may be needed.