Dozens of state parks and public recreational facilities in New Jersey were closed this holiday weekend due to a government shutdown. When politicians were unable to reach an agreement regarding the state’s budget, Gov. Chris Christie declared that some NJ public services, including the New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission and some areas of the Department of Health, would be out of commission. The list also included summer hotspots like Island Beach State Park, where holiday beach-goers were greeted by police barricades. Unless of course, they were the governor or a member of his family.
— Tony Dearing (@TonyDearing) July 2, 2017
Photos of the governor and his family soaking up some sun on the empty beach on Sunday, taken by a photographer for NJ.com, have spread like wildfire, eliciting an unsurprising uproar from the public. Why is the governor allowed to relax and celebrate July 4 on an empty beach, when his constituents are blocked out because of government failure? But Christie didn't appear to be too concerned. "Well, I’m sorry, they’re not the governor. We have a residence in Princeton, and that place is a place where people can go and tour, but they can’t if the government is closed. Am I supposed to move out and stay in a hotel?" he told Fox 29’s Good Day Philadelphia, according to the Associated Press.
Christie apparently appeared at a press conference shortly after the photos were taken, where he publicly stated that he hadn’t been in the sun that day. Since the photos were released, a spokesperson has corrected the governor's blunder, saying, "He did not get any sun. He had a baseball hat on." That's...a bit of a stretch. Naturally, members of the media and the general public took to social media to further express their outrage. One Twitter user even dubbed the incident "an evocative metaphor for our era of politics."
“That’s just the way it goes,” Christie told reporters, according toThe New York Times. “Run for governor, and you can have a residence.” That's not very apologetic, and in fact, is very disrespectful to the people of New Jersey. Both the act and the governor’s response seem like an obvious slap in the face to his constituents—so Christie should probably get used to low favorability ratings in the future.