What an embarrassment. What an utter disgrace.
We’re fed up with Gov. Chris Christie’s arrogance.
We’re fed up with his opportunism.
We’re fed up with his hypocrisy.
We’re fed up with his sarcasm.
We’re fed up with his long neglect of the state to pursue his own selfish agenda.
We’re disgusted with his endorsement of Donald Trump after he spent months on the campaign trail trashing him, calling him unqualified by temperament and experience to be president.
And we’re fed up with his continuing travel out of state on New Jersey’s dime, stumping for Trump, after finally abandoning his own presidential campaign.
For the good of the state, it’s time for Christie to do his long-neglected constituents a favor and resign as governor. If he refuses, citizens should initiate a recall effort.
At a rare news conference on Monday, Christie was at his arrogant worst, refusing to take any questions from reporters that didn’t relate directly to his nomination of Superior Court Judge David Bauman as a state Supreme Court justice. Some Statehouse veteran reporters said this the first time they could remember a governor restricting questions at a news conference in Trenton.
After Christie repeatedly told reporters he wouldn’t answer any questions that were “off topic,” one of the reporters asked why: “Because I don’t want to,” he said. Can you imagine any other governor saying that? Or President Barack Obama? Is that what Christie would have told the national press corps if he became president?
Press conferences in which reporters have had an opportunity to question Christie on any subject have been a rarity since the George Washington Bridge fiasco more than two years ago. Christie fails to acknowledge the role the Fourth Estate plays in a healthy democracy. Reporters have an obligation to ask questions on behalf of the public; government officials have an obligation to answer them.
Whether Christie likes journalists or not — and he decidedly does not like those who refuse to genuflect before him — he should treat them with professionalism, not contempt. More importantly, he should treat his constituents with respect by answering questions that bear on his policies and his performance as governor. In refusing to be accountable to the press, he is refusing accountability to New Jersey’s citizens.
Christie has not given reporters an opportunity to question him since his announcement on Feb. 10 that he was abandoning his presidential run. He didn’t meet with the media after his Feb. 16 budget address, and he dodged the press after a brief appearance at a Newark school event Feb. 24. What questions didn’t he want to answer?
For starters: Now that he has abandoned his presidential campaign, will he work full time on New Jersey business? How could he endorse someone for president who disagrees with him on virtually every important issue? Was his trip to Texas to endorse Trump and his campaigning on his behalf the following day in Arkansas and Tennessee a harbinger of more out-of-state stumping for him in the future? (A question answered by his subsequent trips to Ohio and Kentucky on Trump’s behalf.) Will New Jersey continue to be billed for his security and other expenses on these trips? If so, how does he justify that? Last year, he spent 261 full or partial days out of New Jersey. Now that he is no longer running for president, what percentage of his time does he expect to spend in New Jersey on New Jersey business this year?
It has been obvious for at least two years that Christie has put personal ambition ahead of the interests of New Jersey citizens. Sadly, members of his own party have displayed no backbone in trying to rein him in. When he has said “jump,” they have responded, in unison, “how high?” And the Democratic Party’s weak leadership has failed to fill the power vacuum. Christie has taken his hands off the rudder, and no one has rushed forward to help steer the boat.
New Jersey needs someone whose full attention is devoted to making life better for New Jersey’s citizens. That won’t happen until Christie steps down or is forced out.
This editorial originally appeared in the Asbury Park Press, Bridgewater Courier News, East Brunswick Home News, Morristown Daily Record, Cherry Hill Courier Post and Vineland Daily Journal.