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Robert Traynham

Chris Christie has become the governor everyone loves to hate. Nine years ago when he came onto the scene, many Republicans, along with many Democrats, loved Christie.

Back then, there was a lot to love. Christie from New Jersey burst onto the scene as a straight talker. He would explain things as plainly as he saw them and that would often translate into saying what everyone was thinking but too politically correct to actually say it. Big in size and also in personality, Christie was a breath of fresh air and endeared himself to the citizens of New Jersey. But not anymore.

From the recent photographs that showed Christie sitting on the very beach that he closed during the state government shutdown which denied his very constituents the same right to sun and fun at the beach, sealed with the flippant remark that if they were governor, they, too, could sit on the beach for fun to allegedly telling CNN that public teachers who belong to a union deserve “a slap in the face.” And Christie wonders why only 15 percent of his constituents approve of the job that he is doing? This is on top of his staunch support for President Donald Trump and his unabashed posture of in-your-face politics.

There is something to be said about in-your-face politics, which I define as doing what you promised even when it’s not popular, but you think it’s right. In other words, although you should be mindful of public opinion polls as it serves as a great barometer in terms what people are thinking, you should not be swayed by them. Harry Truman governed this way when he defied public opinion and integrated the Armed Forces through presidential executive order. Lyndon Johnson did this by muscling through the Civil Rights Act of 1964, despite the public, at the time, not in favor of it and George W Bush governed this way throughout the war with Iraq.

In other words, there are times when public officials have listened to their gut and not the polls and history has historically been kind to them in their post-political lives, but this one with Christie feels different. His politics and style of politics is personal. It does not come across as thoughtful and I think this is what rubs people the wrong way. It’s OK to be an emotional leader, heaven knows, America needs more of those, but it’s never OK to be such an emotional leader that you offend so many people and not only by your decisions, but also by your words. It comes across like you’re a bully and just plain mean.

I’m not sure if Governor Christie intends to come across this way. But if Christie is reading this column, I would suggest that he finishes it by picking up a book at his local bookstore if he dares shows his face in public and purchase a book on manners and civility.

Robert Traynham is the vice president of communications for the Bipartisan Policy Center. He can be twitted at @roberttraynham.

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