OK, I admit it. I’m a junkie. I can’t get clean. I cannot rid myself of the craving, at least one time a day, for the latest on the scandal ensnaring New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.
Weeks ago family and friends shared my addiction. But they have shaken the habit while I have not. I remain fascinated not by the man, not by the blatant abuse of power by him and/or by his closest aides, not even by New Jersey politics which, fairly or unfairly, has long been reputed to be, shall we say, gamey.
No, what fascinates me is us, how one moment we’re in love and the next we’re not. How from one moment to the next our feelings about a man long in plain view can change from fascination and admiration to fascination and abomination.
It’s not as if Christie was one thing and now is another. He has changed not in the least – he always was rude and crude, straight-talking to the point of being offensive, forceful to the point of being a bully, arrogant to the point of being a know-it-all. Moreover had we given him even a moment’s serious thought, we would have known there’s no way in hell a man like that could so brilliantly have succeeded in New Jersey politics without striking some suspect deals.
No, it’s not the governor of New Jersey who has changed it is we who have changed. It is we who have been forced to see clearly – forced by Bridgegate – the man behind the everyman mask.
So what does this say about us? It says that we are so desperate for leaders who are new and different, honest and direct, fearless and forward-looking, centrist and collaborationist, that we are willing to take at face value someone who seems to us to embody these attributes. Unless and until we’re hit over the head with the truth, we prefer to settle for someone who seems to be what we’re looking for – rather than to first do our homework and then to wait for someone who really is.
Whatever the ultimate outcome of this scandal, Chris Christie has already been revealed a grievous disappointment. The thing of it is this says less about him and more about us.