There’s a new “Happy Warrior” on the political scene — and an unlikely one, since critics have long called him a bully with anger-control issues.
But consider Gov. Chris Christie (R-N.J.): He has repeatedly clashed with conservatives in his party over his more moderate positions and unapologetic willingness to reach across the aisle. His national media appearances poking fun at himself have bolstered his national image, and a recent poll declared him the only potential 2016 candidate with presidential election crossover appeal. But can he seriously hope to get his litmus-test-fixated party’s nomination?
You can make the case either way. But one thing is for sure: Christie’s national profile is growing faster than his impacted-by-weight-loss-surgery waistline is shrinking.
“Happy Warrior” — a phrase first used in a poem by William Woodsworth — has been applied to politicians who ooze the love and joy of politicking, like Democrats Al Smith and Franklin D. Roosevelt and Republicans Ronald Reagan and John McCain. That’s a major turnaround for Christie, who has a full page of YouTube videos featuring him cutting short or raging at critical constituents or the press. How did he change? An event beyond his control softened his image.
Joe Gandelman is a former fulltime journalist who freelanced in India, Spain, Bangladesh and Cypress writing for publications such as the Christian Science Monitor and Newsweek. He also did radio reports from Madrid for NPR’s All Things Considered. He has worked on two U.S. newspapers and quit the news biz in 1990 to go into entertainment. He also has written for The Week and several online publications, did a column for Cagle Cartoons Syndicate and has appeared on CNN.