Chris Christie has ignited class warfare here in New Jersey simply by being himself; with the heat on in the Garden State he may have no choice but to take his vendetta national. Oh had he only dug the ill-fated rail tunnel instead of gutting services and cutting millionaires’ taxes! After he plugged that desperately-needed tunnel—wagering (and winning at the time) that his constituents were mostly indifferent to the plight of culturally diverse commuters enjoying six-figure median incomes—I suggested that public transit meant nothing to Christie and pals grown accustomed to limos and “the occasional whirlybird for special occasions,” like, say, his son’s state playoff baseball game in Bergen County this past Tuesday.
Christie’s bombastic arrival in bucolic Montvale, complete with courtesy car to ferry the Gov. and Mary Pat those final hundred yards from chopper to bleachers, evoked for me the pre-revolutionary Virginia gentry described in a classic study by historian Rhys Isaac: these brash cavaliers would ostentatiously rear up on horseback in public places, to remind the lower orders–relegated to hoofing it–just who was in charge.
The fuss that rose like the fancy chopper’s dust over Montvale reconfirmed suspicions that for Gov. Christie, power-privilege is the point. And in light of New Jerseyans’ reluctance to confess when they’ve been taken, the flood of online recantations is remarkable. They thought they’d elected a blustery, accessible Jersey guy to replace the erstwhile Illinois farm boy who, in our one encounter with him at a So. Jersey gas station where he’d stopped en route to his LBI beach house seemed mostly intent on going unrecognized by constituents.
The only time I’ve seen Christie, on the other hand, was at a Parkway rest stop; I was headed out the door unwrapping a candy bar when I saw someone walking in who looked vaguely familiar (he was the crooked-pol busting U.S. attorney at the time). He waited long enough to discern I could not place him before sticking his hand out with a friendly ‘I’m Chris Christie’ greeting.
Then he won election to our state’s uniquely powerful governorship–to everyone’s surprise including his own–and it’s been all gravy and vitriol ever since. He betrays no affinity for his noblesse-obliging precursor Tom Kean’s conviction that New Jersey and You are “perfect together;” it’s not at all clear that he likes the Garden State much less its peoples (yet another ploy to resonate with heartland Republicans? Why can’t he love Jersey like his new pal Sarah P. loves Alaska?).
And no, he’s not reimbursing us [now says he is; fast-breaking story!] and no, he’s not apologizing for leaving the ballgame in the fifth inning for a whirl down to Drumthwacket, where GOP suitors from Iowa waited while honing their pitch: run, Chris, run.
I hope he runs, is nominated, and conducts a spirited campaign, with the Garden State in foreground as a kind of winner-takes-all referendum on the unabashedly class-conscious, class-baiting nationwide political insurgency which, given Chris Christie’s rapidly-plummeting fortunes locally, may bellow its last hurrah in November 2012.