Chris Christie won big in New Jersey. Even though full of rude castigations of those who disagree with him, his bluster, bravado, and bullying seem to be overlooked, actually endearing to voters, perhaps in contrast to the Obama tenure of temperance. To many, Obama’s seemingly cool response to disrespectful assaults by the Republican Party appear unnatural, if not wimpish. Obviously, an angry black man is not an image President Obama’s handlers want to portray. Christie provides a contrast to that image.
Christie is a lot like George W. Bush who charmed with his own brand of Everyman, but Christie exhibits more gristle with girth. The Christie belly of bellow is self-serving without seeming to assault those watching him deride or browbeat others. His rhetoric and manufactured media assure you that you have a bully on your side against imposing forces that would subjugate you. Our culture is now like that. It is one where banter and bluster wins out over calm compromise and reasoning.
The Obama style did not work. GOP ruffians kicked him and punched him while he stood for compromise and fairness. Americans got tired of a calm negotiator who seemed to always eat Republican dirt, always seemed to bargain out of weakness, even when holding potent weapons. He didn’t feel like our champion, just a rhetorical panache.
Americans vote for personalities. George W. Bush is still a dominant example of this. Incompetent, immature and flawed, he was still elected to two terms, even when those flaws became transparent in his second campaign. Unfortunately voters too often fail to think issues, and forget past GOP acts of contempt for the people. They only seem to feel a nagging sense of forces pushing them down. The present phantom pushing them down is unnamed in their emotional life.
Personality and image become stellar over words and deeds. They wished Bush to be a “compassionate conservative” because they liked him. His tax cuts for the crony rich didn’t seem to make a dent on his likeability quotient. His phony wars on credit cards didn’t damage his advertised fiscal conservatism.
That is why image-builders get big bucks to make someone or something look good. Karl Rove understood that. He used negative images to tear down Bush’s opponents and positive images – cowboy, Everyman, even mediocre – to build up Bush. Even the Bush malapropisms were endearing for a personality-drawn voter – after all he was Everyman.
Of course, Chris Christie is a different breed. But voters still like him because they think he will “kick ass” for them. His persona has been carefully built by his image builders. His fight for conservative ideas and against progressive policies is sufficiently muted so that personality overrides his support of policies against the people.
Voters don’t notice that he is sitting on billions of dollars of “Sandy” funds, needy victims still waiting for rescue after over a year. Voters have bought his champion-for-them words in spite of his anti-union and wasteful spending ways. For example, claiming to be a fiscal conservative, he spent $24 million extra of NJ money for a separate election for Corey Booker, who might have stole Christie’s 30% win margin, and Christie questionably used $2 million of “Sandy” funds to promote himself in a political commercial.
He has come around at the right time. Most of us cringed when President Obama began to bargain with the disrespectful, demagogic Republicans. We might have said we wanted compromise, but we didn’t really want that much compromise. Obama always seemed to start his position halfway toward the Republican bargaining goals. In addition, we didn’t want a leader who was a constant target – you know, like someone who was unknowingly given a “kick me” sign on his back end. Personally, I wanted someone with enough bluster and bully to tell inflexible Republicans and their privileged plutocratic masters to “eat dirt.”
There’s no doubt Christie is brighter than George W. He deals with the public with his own personal savvy and charisma. He doesn’t have Karl Rove to make him look friendly, strong, and competent. But the similarity is in charisma and the ability to make you think he is a good guy — one of us.
New Jersey voters have not seemed to notice that knives are sticking out their backs, put there by past Christie decisions. Perhaps that is because he does it with a bluster and bravado that says I’m doing this for you, my friends, with that aggressive style, though it belies treachery.
He built himself a charismatic image, wide and stalwart. The question is if he is elected, will he immediately surrender to the rich farts who have bought everything else designed to crush our country under their heels – including Congress, the court system, the media, and a progressive timidity in the president – one demagogues call socialistic?Tweet