If you want to understand the difference between a functioning democracy and Washington, listen to New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie: "I wake up every morning knowing that even though I think I'm right," the GOP governor said today, "I'm not going to get everything I want."
In Washington, compromise has become a dirty word. With gridlock the norm, Congress's approval rating is below 10 percent and the public has lost faith in its national leadership. The Republican Party emerged from the November elections with a particularly intense image problem.
Christie, whose approval rating tops 70 percent, acutely analyzed Washington's problem on MSNBC's Morning Joe. He said it's partly structural: Sophisticated redistricting has produced a generation of Democratic and GOP lawmakers whose only worry is appeasing extreme elements in the parties. It's also cultural: For numerous reasons, Republicans and Democrats in Washington no longer put a premium on building relationships.
"This is the place where the president has been the most deficient," Christie said, echoing an analyses I wrote yesterday on Obama's charm deficit.
In his State of the State address on Tuesday, the governor sought to set himself above partisan bickering. He declared New Jersey a model for bipartisanship, which is a bit of a stretch but a politically savvy one to make.