Ed Driscoll

A Tale Of Two Governors

In the Wall Street Journal, Bill McGurn writes, “The best reality show on television today isn’t running on MTV. It’s in Trenton, where Gov. Chris Christie is offering the voters a dose of Reagan Republicanism—with a Jersey twist:”

State budget cuts only shift the pain to our towns. “[L]et’s remember this, in 2009 the private sector in New Jersey lost 121,000 jobs. In 2009, municipalities and school boards added 11,300 jobs. Now that’s just outrageous. And they’re going to have to start to lay some people off, not continue to hire at the pace they hired in 2009 in the middle of a recession.”

Isn’t your talk of ‘stopping the tax madness’ just another ‘Read My Lips’ promise? “[Mine is] much better than ‘Read my lips.’ I’m sorry, it’s just much better. Much stronger. . . . It’s gonna be how my governorship will rise or fall. I’m not signing a tax increase.”

In some ways, Mr. Christie can speak bluntly precisely because the state is such a mess. Indeed, that’s one reason he won election in a blue state. The challenge remains daunting: No governor has yet succeeded in turning around a state as overtaxed and overspent as New Jersey. Indiana under Gov. Mitch Daniels probably comes closest, but Indiana was not nearly as bad as New Jersey.

If he is to survive the headlines about budget cuts and pull New Jersey back to prosperity, Mr. Christie knows he needs to put the hard choices before the state’s citizens, and to speak to them as adults. He’s doing just that. One reporter for the Newark Star-Ledger summed up Mr. Christie’s rhetoric this way: “[F]inally we have a governor who is as teed off as the rest of us at how government spending and taxes have skyrocketed over the past decade.”

It’s far too early to declare Mr. Christie’s Jersey-style Reaganism a success. But it’s the one reality show truly worth watching.

Ronald Reagan was a somewhat stiff movie actor who transformed the world as president. But another actor turned would-be governor, facing a similar set of problems as Christie in New Jersey, but unlike him, left his bravery in standing up to his opponents back in the dressing room, presents the perfect example of what not to do as governor:

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Related: Here’s another GOP gubernatorial misstep that Christie also seems likely not to make.