Chris Christie, Vacations and 2012

DANI ALEXIS RYSKAMP: First, freshman Rep. Andy Harris wanted his health care without a waiting period. Now, it seems that New Jersey governor Chris Christie doesn’t see why he should have to duck out of Epcot a week early to dig his state out of a blizzard – or at least to look like he’s digging.

If it’s true that Democrats are “elitists” out of touch with the “common man” (and his desire to, um, not have health care?), why is it that so many Republicans are complaining about working conditions that so many of us “common” folks take for granted, or at least have learned to put up with? As I mentioned in a previous post, we average mortals have to wait at least 28 days for health benefits at our new jobs to kick in – if we have them at all. Likewise, we average mortals often have to rearrange, cut short, or give up our vacations altogether to ensure that work gets covered properly. It is, as my mother liked to say, called Being an Adult.

Granted, New Jersey’s lieutenant governor, Kim Guadagno, was also on vacation, so perhaps I’m being too hard on “Good Husband, Father, and Mickey-Mouse-Ear-Wearer” Christie. Except that Guadagno wasn’t just on any vacation: she was taking a possibly-last trip with her terminally ill father. Which might be a bit more important than ensuring your family has sufficient six-dollar sodas for its fifteenth climb up Space Mountain.

What effect will Christie’s ill-timed vacationing have on a 2012 run? Win or lose, he’s probably going to Disneyland.

HOWARD MEGDAL: While it appears the damage Chris Christie inflicted upon himself by choosing Disney World over his job is minimal, a pair of truths emerged from the entire snowstorm kerfuffle that are likely to limit him to a single term.

The first comes from the storm itself. Rudy Giuliani, no stranger to stubbornly doing what he wants regardless of the effect on others, made it clear in remarks criticizing Christie that he recognizes three things: 1) Chris Christie is a threat in 2012, 2) Rudy would like to run in 2012, and Christie would take up much of his available oxygen, and 3) it will be a useful angle of attack against anyone, Christie included, to point out that government does have to provide basic services.

This is an inherent problem the GOP has, particularly the more extreme party members are about limiting government- the people expect government to provide certain things. Like snow removal, for example. Failure to do so from a party claiming that government is the problem makes for a tricky path to re-election. (The Democrats suffer, of course, from the reverse- a promise that government will provide bumps up against the human foibles within government.)

But with Giuliani an afterthought in 2012 presidential calculus, Christie’s inherent problem- that he’s risen to where he is on the strength of promising what government won’t do- will come into sharper focus in the coming years of his term. And that’s where Cory Booker comes in. The same polling that showed little damage to Christie from this particular snowstorm showed him tied with Booker-an astonishing result, given that Booker is not a statewide office holder, but the Mayor of Newark, with a significant number of people still unfamiliar with him as a result. It defies logic that 21 percent of Democrats, the number not committed to Booker in the poll, would fail to come home to him. Even if he didn’t gain a single independent he didn’t already have, that would hand Booker a convincing victory over Christie.

Christie’s problem is that what he’ll be building over the next three years, if he continues down his first year path, isn’t successes-outside of his promises to cut the budget deficit- but the absence of government. It’s nearly impossible to imagine that cuts like this won’t come back to hurt him, particularly when the results are less nature-blamable than snow. But the absence of tangible success- particularly against a Booker, out shoveling snow himself, using Twitter to locate neighborhoods in need, but a Democrat who has also faced down some of Newark’s most powerful unions- will likely doom Christie.

In other words? Christie better run in 2012, because it’s now or never time.

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