As a New Jersey voter, I feel obligated to comment on our YouTube-sensation
Governor, Chris Christie. Christie strikes me as being similar in temperament to another prosecutor-turned-Republcan-star Rudolph Giuliani. Giuliani gained fame prior to 9/11 for his no-nonsense approach to street crime and his disdain for the various race-hustlers who tried to fight him. Christie's nemesis, the teachers union in New Jersey (NJEA), is only slightly more favorably viewed today than were street criminals in the early 90's.
A large part of what is driving Christie's crusade against the NJEA is just pure pettiness, I think. The NJEA went all out against him, and now it's payback time. And since professional teachers are suddenly the pariahs of public discourse, this is working out for him just fine. Of course there are very serious budget issues and something has to be done, and in particular promised pensions are not sustainable.
Christie doesn't strike me as having any real "conservative" philosophy. I think he has basically a traditional preference for private enterprise, limited government, law and order, and a skepticism toward liberal causes such as environmentalism and labor. So he surely stands on the right side of the Liberal/Conservative divide. But I suspect he's more of a neo-con. Education reform is a very neo-connish type of crusade, with its assumption that the holy grail of equality can be best achieved by the tough-love application of old-fashioned, conservative policies.*
Most alarming, he is apparently very soft on immigration. He's been careful not to come out with any position, but he seems to be open to the idea of amnesty
. And he supported the firing of a NJ Transit worker who was caught on video tearing up a Koran on his day off at GZM protest a few months back. So, like Giuliani before him, he may be the darling of the right, but if he tries to take it national, I doubt he'll even make it to double-digits in the primaries once Republican voters see the whole package.
* Remember that that is the fundamental definition of a neo-conservative - one who promotes conservative policies to achieve liberal goals.