When Mitt Romney's campaign was investigating potential choices to be his 2012 running mate, they gave each prospect a fish-themed code name, such as Lake Fish, Filet-O-Fish, etc. Their name for New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, a tireless self-promoter known for his bloated ego, was Puffer Fish.
The Romneyites determined that the prima donna governor was wholly unqualified to be America's vice president, but the rejection didn't deflate Christie's puffed-up self-esteem one dot, and he has continued to brag, bluster and bully his way into national politics. Having convinced at least himself that he's the can-do, big-idea, forceful leader America needs, the Jersey guv is now offering to be our president and has become No. 14 on the Republican presidential dance card! How exciting is that?
Before accepting, however, you might check with one group of voters who are less than enchanted: the people of New Jersey. With a moribund economy, a state budget mess, a growing pension crisis, the state infrastructure crumbling and his own office caught in a web of scandals, Christie is not faring well with the homefolk, earning a sorry 30 percent approval rating, with most voters saying they dislike "everything about him."
Nationwide, only Donnie Trump is rated lower than Christie by Republican primary voters. But he has found one friend — Maine Gov. Paul LePage has enthusiastically endorsed him! Problem is, LePage is even more insufferable and insolent than Christie, so arrogant and autocratic that he's even alienated fellow Republicans in Maine and is now threatened with impeachment.
Still, if anything, the Puffer Fish's ego is puffier than ever. Asked on Fox News why 65 percent of New Jersey voters say he'd make a poor president and shouldn't run, the vainglorious governor actually said: "They want me to stay. Don't leave to run for president, because we want you to stay."
It's one thing for a politician to say that, but — far scarier — Christie is so out of touch with reality that he actually believes it!
The Big Man from New Jersey entered the race with all the chutzpah and hullaballoo that marked his five and a half years as governor of the Garden State, promising to be a truth-telling leader: "There is one thing you will know for sure," he roared in his announcement speech. "I say what I mean and mean what I say."
Swell, Chris... but when your campaign slogan is "Telling It Like It Is," it would help if you were not infamous in your home state as a stunningly audacious, inveterate liar. Even the editor of Jersey's largest newspaper felt a journalistic duty to warn America about Christie. "Don't believe a word the man says," the editor wrote, pointing not to a few fibs and fabrications, but a lengthy "catalog" of "over-the-top, hair-raising type of lies," including these gems:
— Having assured public employees that their pensions were "sacred" to him, Christie then made cutting their pensions the centerpiece of his first term in office.
— This June, he bragged on national TV that a court had approved those pension cuts — but the court actually ruled them unconstitutional.
— At a recent South Carolina gun rights meeting, Christie crowed that "no new (gun laws) have been made since I've been governor," when in fact he has enacted three gun-control measures.
— After he and his family racked up a $30,000 hotel bill during a luxurious weekend getaway at a Jordanian resort, paid for by the King of Jordan, Christie claimed the junket was not a violation of the state gift ban, for he and the king were personal friends — but he'd only met the king once at a political dinner.
Beware of Christie the compulsive liar. As the newspaper editor bluntly put it: "He's a creep."
(Jim Hightower has been called American's most popular populist. The radio commentator and former Texas Commissioner of Agriculture is author of seven books, including "There's Nothing In the Middle of Road but Yellow Stripes and Dead Armadillos" and his new work, "Swim Against the Current: Even Dead Fish Can Go With The Flow".)
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