'Truth-teller, Demagogue, or Both?'
In a lengthy profile, The New York Times gives Chris Christie the attention and respect he deserves.
8:10 AM, Feb 27, 2011 • By THOMAS O'BAN
In this week's New York Times magazine, Matt Bai has a 6500-word profile on New Jersey Governor Christie.
It’s a great read. The tone is one of reserved fascination, and the piece shies away from partisan appraisal. Bai’s descriptive metaphors focus on the mystique of Chris Christie’s public posture; a “grandstanding prosecutor,” Chris Christie works the circuit of New Jersey’s townships “like a stand-up comedian” and with a style “as slick as sandpaper” still manages to deliver his message as if “Oprah was giving a talk about state budgets and tax policy.” Throughout the piece, Bai presents a conflict between refreshing bluntness and political gamesmanship, wondering aloud if Christies’ waged war against the public employees’ unions stems from principle or political opportunism:
“It may just be that Christie has stumbled onto the public-policy issue of our time, which is how to bring the exploding costs of the public workforce in line with reality.
Then again, he may simply be the latest in a long line of politicians to give an uneasy public the scapegoat it demands. Depending on your vantage point, Chris Christie is a truth-teller or a demagogue, or maybe even a little of both.”
Amidst a flurry of discussion regarding a Chris Christie presidential run in 2012, an aspiration Christie has publically denied having again and again, Bai avoids the temptation to speculate. Instead, he deals with real political meat: Christie’s unbelievable success as New Jersey’s governor.
The Unlikely Rise
Bai identifies the incredible mismatch of political experience between Christie and his 2009 opponent, and how Christie actually used the mismatch to his advantage:
Thanks to YouTube and the outspoken support from Republican leaders nationwide, Christie’s fight against the public employee unions has been well documented. Bai brings to light how the war began:
And Bai seems to agree with Christie that the fight itself (spoiler alert) is a worthy one:
He goes on to explain in some detail the dire state of New Jersey’s unfunded pension system: