On the same day that New Jersey Governor Chris Christie made the first of two co-hosting appearances on Mike Francesa's WFAN show, in what is being discussed as an audition for a sports radio gig, a Monmouth University poll put his approval rating in his state at 15 percent. His disapproval rating was at 80 percent.
A cromulent excerpt from the statement accompanying the poll:
"It really is difficult to drive approval ratings into the single digits barring something like a criminal conviction. However, you have to admire Christie's seeming tenacity for trying to get his numbers down to that level," said Patrick Murray, director of the independent Monmouth University Polling Institute. "In reality, Christie may have found the floor for his ratings, but it's a level where most of his constituents now feel his time on office has hurt the state."
Some of this doubtless has to do with the photos that surfaced of Christie and his family lounging on an otherwise empty state beach over July 4 weekend; it had been closed due to a government shutdown that was the latest bit of avant-garde anti-government undertaken by the governor during a campaign of abasement that began somewhere around the time that he entered the race for the 2016 Republican nomination for President. Some of Christie's historic unpopularity in his home state has to do with that proximate cause. Some of it, a lot of it, has to do with the fact that people in his state just don't really like him that much.
One such person, we can assume, is Mike From Montclair, a Christie constituent and regular Francesa caller who told producers he had a question about Aaron Judge. Sometime between when Mike was vetted and when he got on the air, he evidently decided to change the subject of his question from one large-format tri-state personage to another. The indispensable Francesa-obsessed Twitter account Sports Funhouse captured the magic.
"Governor," Mike in Montclair says by way of salutation, "the next time you want to sit on a beach that's closed to everyone else in the world, you should take your fat ass and get in a car…." at which point things break down pretty badly.
"I love getting calls from communists in Montclair," Christie groans. Communists in Montclair! replied the communist in Montclair. You're a bully, Governor, and I don't like bullies. "I'm not the guy who came on the air, swore on the air," Christie responded. Who swore? the communist asked, not unreasonably. There follows some heated crosstalk in which the word "bad optics" bobs rudely to the surface. "You're a bum," Christie finally gets in over the top. "I'd like to look at your optics every day. What matters is what you do." What have you done? Mike asks. "Stop polluting the airwaves with people like you," Christie says. And then Christie hangs up, in the moment of his co-hosting gig in which he most closely resembled the world-historically peevish Francesa. A colloquy between Christie and co-host Evan Roberts followed, on the question of whether "ass" qualifies a curse.
The idea of a sitting governor openly auditioning for a job as a sports-talk radio bullfrog is ridiculous, if also ridiculous in a way that has been kind of grimly predictable for some time. That collision between the rank, ripe absurdity of the idea and the reality of the moment, and the broader tension of living in a time in which every B-plus joke from 2015 has come to horrible life, is something every American lives with, and lives in, every day. Christie will be on the air again on Tuesday, from 2 p.m. until 6:30 p.m.