Potty Mouth Politics
I received some great advice early in my career. That advice was to stay away from conversations regarding politics and religion. This seemed fairly wise advice since, by definition, whatever views one has are in conflict with those of many others. As a result, I have never written about politics or religion previously. I’ll make an exception today on politics (no exception on religion, I promise).
My personal politics lean left, as any of the readers who know me are already aware. I am liberal in thought, though conservative in personal finance. The reason I expose my political leaning is not to try to convince anyone of the virtues of a liberal agenda. Truth is I am often at odds with it myself.
This Struming isn’t really about politics per se. Rather it is about leadership style, or lack thereof. I hope you do not dismiss my thoughts as those from a disgruntled Democrat. I do not disagree with many of the Governor’s policies. He is making changes that are sorely needed to run New Jersey effectively. For that he is to be commended. Yet I am deeply embarrassed by his style, behavior, and his bullying tactics, which mask his underlying insecurity. His style makes me ashamed to live in New Jersey where I have lived my whole life. At least I can dismiss Jersey Shore as a nonsensical TV program and not broadly representative of the well educated, affluent New Jersey population. However, I can not so easily dismiss the Governor’s actions.
I like forthright politicians. To be transparent, I am related to one—Ed Koch, former mayor of New York. He was not always tactful, not always humble, but I don’t think he crossed the line. His candor was refreshing and he was not above self criticism.
That’s where Governor Christie falls short. In just the last few weeks he called a state senator an “arrogant SOB”, a former Navy SEAL an “idiot” and a reporter “stupid”. There are many more examples as well. Yet he is sensitive to comments about his weight and thinks it is a topic which should be off limits. Methinks the Governor protests too much. Weight issues are certainly ones that I can sympathize with, but you can’t hurl insults and not expect them to come back particularly when you have such an obvious personal issue.
The Governor claims his blunt style and sharp tongue are a product of his mother who taught him that in a respectful relationship, people tell the other the truth. Good parenting from his late mom. But occasional soap in his potty mouth might have also served him well too.
The Governor reminds me of his buddy Rex Ryan. Good at their craft but in need of a larger dose of humility and Jenny Craig. Actually Rex has done well here lately.
To be fair, crude language is not merely a Republican trait. Vice President Biden has been known to use the F-Bomb and Philadelphia Mayor Nutter has used salty language too. But Governor Christie leads the pack in crude language and behavior. In fact he appears to look for the opportunity to lash out.
Our Governor feels that trash talking and brow beating are appropriate leadership styles. It seems to have raised his national profile, though it would be hard for Romney to consider him a serious VP candidate. The bully act is entertaining at first, and then wears off.
Hold your tongue Governor. Bring dignity to politics. It needs it. Stay classy, Trenton.
Epilog: Since I wrote this original post, Governor Christie was nothing short of phenomenal in handling the Sandy aftermath. He is so effective when he is humble. Keep it up, Governor. You are winning me over.