Thursday, January 23, 2014

Is Chris Christie's fall imminent?

We live in a nation filled with people who demand perfection — from everyone else. Count me among them. I want my food hot and my beer cold. And I want them both now. My internet better work all the time. And most importantly, I want my government run by compassionate geniuses.

Needless to say, my food isn’t always warm. My beer isn’t always cold. My internet is sometimes spotty and in government, I would settle for anyone who has a clue and a soul.

I thought Chris Christie was that guy.

The embattled governor of New Jersey has been my favorite politician for quite some time now. I found his candor and his courage refreshing. He said what he meant. He did what he said. He didn’t care if you liked him. He was the guy most guys wish they could be.

Today, though, I’m a little unsure about his alleged candor. Bridge-gate and Superstorm-Sandy-relief-funds-gate (doesn’t exactly roll of the tongue, does it?) have me wondering. Maybe it’s blind faith, but I was willing to believe he had nothing to do with the “traffic study” performed at the George Washington Bridge. Sometimes political aides do things without their bosses’ knowledge. It happens. Once you add in the flap over storm recovery funds for Hoboken, it starts to paint a picture that really disturbs me.

I’ve never been fond of New Jersey. To me it’s always been a cesspool where people live only because the rent in New York is too high. Then it was home of the Sopranos, the TV show about a crime boss and his family. After that, it was most notable for Jersey Shore, a reality TV show based on a bunch of idiots doing stupid stuff.

But Chris Christie was above all that. He wasn’t polluted. He wasn’t a crime boss. And he wasn’t an idiot. I thought. Again, now I’m not so sure. And if I’m not sure, you can bet that there are other Christie supporters who are disillusioned, too.

In fact, a Rutgers-Eagleton poll published in Thursday’s Washington Post shows that his favorability rating has dropped below 50 percent for the first time since September 2012. Only a month ago, it was 65 percent.

The last politician I genuinely liked was Howard Dean, for many of the same reasons I like(d) Christie. Dean’s opinions were from his soul, not handed down to him by party bosses. He said what he thought and he did what he said. He was done in by a scream one night in January of 2004, after losing the Iowa caucus to eventual Democratic presidential nominee John (Milquetoast) Kerry.

If Dean can fall from grace over a scream, why wouldn’t Christie suffer the same consequences over a series of scandals?

What bothers me most is that without Chris Christie, I’m once again a man without a candidate — just like in 2012, 2008 and, after Dean’s demise, 2004. Heck, actually the last candidate that I believed in who had a chance of winning was Bill Clinton. Those were the days.

I never thought Chris Christie was perfect, mind you. I just thought he was better than what he appears to be now.

Scott Leffler demands perfection. Or at least hot food and cold beer, both of which he tweets about sometimes using his Twitter handle, @scottleffler.