New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has worked over the years to build a reputation as a Garden State common man who identifies more easily with blue collar constituents than fellow members of the political elite. On Sunday, however, The Christian Science Monitor reported remarks made by Christie that show him putting a big government agenda ahead of any privacy concerns the average household in Hoboken or Trenton may hold.
Specifically, Christie defended the practices of the National Security Administration to monitor without warrant the cell phone records of whomever it wishes. Since this practice by the NSA was made public knowledge by whistleblower Eric Snowden, it has been criticized by many politicians, with the most vocal critic being Kentucky Republican Senator Rand Paul.
Christie has lately attacked Paul and others who suggest personal liberty as protected by the Constitution should be put above behemoth government activities. These attacks by Christie run counter to his past calls for small government and his self-expressed loathing of a “nanny state.”
In fact, the governor has expressed great concern that the Republican party is being infiltrated by civil liberty nitpickers like Paul.
“This strain of libertarianism that’s going through parties right now and making big headlines I think is a very dangerous thought,” Christie said.
The governor even used the attacks of September 11, 2001 to justify the federal government’s citizen surveillance programs. He suggested that those in government that are questioning the programs of the NSA would come to their senses if they had to face people directly affected by 9/11.
“You can name any one of them that’s engaged in this,” he said. “I want them to come to New Jersey and sit across from the widows and orphans and have that conversation.
“I think that what we as a country have to decide is: Do we have amnesia? Because I don’t. And I remember what we felt like on September 12, 2001.”
For many years now political office holders have elicited horrific memories of the 9/11 attacks to justify military action and the expansion of existing federal agencies or the creation of new ones.
Christie’s current use of the overplayed 9/11 card simply belies his insistence that he falls outside of a politically elite group. Instead, it implies he is looking out for government interests, not the people of New Jersey or any other state. Such statements put him directly in the company of those who over the past dozen years have used 9/11 to push for larger government reach and bureaucracy at the expense of personal liberty.
To bolster fraternity with voters, Christie has also repeated over and over that he is a rare type of no-nonsense politician who employs common sense to solve problems for the people of New Jersey. However, since medical marijuana was legalized in New Jersey, the governor has done little to cut through red tape for those parents looking for access to cannabis for their minor children who have conditions that have not responded to other treatments.
Current New Jersey law requires the signature of three different medical professionals to prescribe medical marijuana for minors. In addition to the prescribing physician, a pediatrician and psychiatrist must also be consulted and sign off on the treatment. This process has proven burdensome and costly – nearly impossible – for the families trying to work through it.
The New Jersey Senate and Assembly, however, last month passed a bill that would allow a single physician to okay the prescription of medical marijuana for children. The bill would also allow for more edible forms of cannabis to be available, a measure that would further assist children in their treatment with the substance.
The bill, S2842, needs only Christie’s signature to move forward. The governor, however, has shown reluctance to move the measure into law, even though his office has received over 1,500 faxes supporting the legislative move.
Despite the fact that the bill’s passage would help some common New Jersey folks with some unfortunately uncommon problems, Christie has hinted that he will probably not sign it. His belligerent stance on the issue seems to place him on the side of big drug companies rather than by the side of his fellow state residents.
Christie’s everyman public persona has also come under attack in “Collision 2012,” a book due out next month featuring several anecdotes involving the governor during the 2012 election run-up.
In a New York Times preview of the book, author Dan Balz paints a picture of Christie as a smug political elitist possessing an ego that is oversized even in his profession.
While Christie might have voters believe he is most in his element taking a lunch-box break with workers on the New Jersey docks, Balz tells differently.
The author recalls one instance where Christie is superbly comfortable being doted on by a room of high profile political donors. The group, which included former Secretary of State Henry Kissinger, was trying to convince Christie to run for president in 2012.
“Your country needs you,” Kissinger reportedly told the governor. The room of donors broke into applause.
Although Christie never ended up running for president in 2012, according to Balz, the governor savored every moment of the experience.
In another tale recounted by Balz, Christie told the author how grateful Mitt Romney should be to him. His personal endorsement of the eventual nominee and his decision not to compete with Romney in the primary were enormous gifts to the candidate, Christie said.
These stories, along with other previewed portions of the book, paint Christie in a rather arrogant manner that doesn’t jibe with the public relations, simple son of Jersey version of him.
Perhaps Christie doesn’t realize that the simple sons of America truly do want less government. In New Jersey and elsewhere, most people do not want government agencies looking at their computer or cell phone records, telling them which medicines to give their children or using the threat of endless terror attacks to impose infractions of the Constitution.
Chris Christie may indeed be gearing up for a 2016 presidential run. However, given his record and statements since taking the office of governor, it is going to be increasingly difficult for him to campaign as a common guy from New Jersey. Simply liking Bon Jovi a lot will not give him such credentials.