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Can Christie tackle the partisan divide?

June 10th, 2013

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How often these days do we see a political figure liked by both Republicans and Democrats? Not so often that we should fail to notice.

But there was the evidence last week in two different polls. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie drew a 58 percent favorable rating from his fellow Republicans around the country and 52 percent from Democrats in a recent Gallup Poll. Forty percent of Republicans in the NBC News-Wall Street Journal poll, and 43 percent of Democrats, said they like Christie. (The NBC-Journal numbers are a bit lower because the poll offered a “neutral” option.)

Christie seems headed for a big re-election victory in New Jersey this November. Polls show him running 30 points ahead of his Democratic opponent. This is in a state that has voted Democratic in every presidential election since 1992.

The country has now had four presidents in a row who promised to heal the bitter division between red and blue America. They all failed. Under each successive president – George H.W. Bush, Bill Clinton, George W. Bush and Barack Obama – the partisan divide has gotten worse.

Obama has proved that nice doesn’t work. He tried to make deals with Republican leaders. He tried a charm offensive with rank-and-file Republican legislators. All he got in return was insults and investigations. Now it’s “No more Mr. Nice Guy.” With his latest round of appointments to his national security team as well as the courts, Obama has given up trying to satisfy Republicans. His new message: “In your face.”

But Obama’s got a long way to go before he can match Christie for “in your face” politics. Christie is the un-Obama.  He doesn’t look like Obama, and he certainly doesn’t act like Obama. Christie doesn’t trade on being nice. He busts heads.

He also speaks Jersey. When he was challenged by property owners who complained that he intended to build attractions rather than storm protection on the Jersey shore, Christie shouted back, “That’s bullsh*t!” (After advising children to cover their ears.)

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