I will protect your pensions. Nothing about your pension is going to change when I am governor. - Chris Christie, "An Open Letter to the Teachers of NJ" October, 2009

Sunday, September 26, 2010

Seriously: What Is Wrong With Chris Christie?

You have to trust me when I say that this isn't just snark: something is really, really wrong with the Governor of New Jersey:
At a documentary screening before the event, Christie had stern words for groups that have called the partnership between he and Booker potentially illegal, and threatened to sue the state.
“I have a message for politicians who think their careers are more important than our children – I’m coming,” Christie said. “I have a message to the lawyers who have made a lifetime out of suing us into failure — I’m coming.”
Is he the governor or Steven Seagal? "I'm coming"?!? Are you kidding me?

For those who don't follow the minutia of this, Christie's threat is clearly directed at David Sciarra of the Education Law Center. I'm no expert on the Abbott decision (I wasn't even a teacher at the time), but ELC was pretty much the major driving force behind the 1997 suit that changed how money flowed to the poorest districts in the state.

Sciarra makes the point that the Newark schools are under the control of the Education Commissioner, not the governor. He's clearly right, although the notion that it matters is, frankly, a little quaint: the Ed Commish office has been so politicized that it's practically the same as being run by the guv himself, and that's clearly not changing anytime soon (especially when Andy Smarick weasels his way in).

But I really don't think Christie cares all that much about that. Granted, he'd like to install Cory Booker as another Michael Bloomberg and bask in the reflected glory of claiming that the schools have made huge gains when they actually did no such thing. Sure, he'd like to open the floodgates to charter schools and prepare for the coming of a new generation of Chris Whittles who would each love to become the Haliburtons of education ("Just smell the money!"). Yes, he loves him his TV time and is glad to push this stuff if he gets to pal around with Oprah.

But it's becoming clear that none of that is what really drives him.

Folks, I'm normally against armchair psychoanalysis. But this one is so clear, I'd be obtuse not to bring it up:

Chris Christie is a truly weird person. He loves - he relishes - smacking down opponents; not because he believes in principles, but because he loves humiliating those who question him. It's probably what put him on a fast track at the Justice Department, but it's a character flaw that is making his governorship a train wreck.

"I'm coming." In what bizarre world is this the way to build consensus around your ideas? Does he really think he's going to pull this off without getting interested parties to buy in? Or does he just not care whether it happens or not, because all this is - to him - just another chance to stick it to the teachers union and others who refuse to bow before his awesomeness?

"I'm coming." What the hell does that mean? You're going to sic the power of your office on a guy because he dares to disagree with the decrees of the Prince of Mendham? You're an officer of the court - do you think people should demand that the laws of this state be followed or not? Do you think it's appropriate for you to use your office to threaten those who question you?

"I'm coming." You're coming? Is this all about you? You saving Meg Whitman? You addicted to the spotlight? You putting uppity teachers women in their place? You causing those who knew you when you were young to wonder what ever happened to you?

This is, I'm afraid, classic bullying behavior, and all decent people in the State of New Jersey, no matter their political affiliations, need to demand that Governor Christie get a grip on himself and stop this once and for all. His tone is demeaning and demoralizing. He is ripping this state apart, destroying morale among all public workers, and pushing unproven and damaging policies simply because he is scared little man who has no grasp of the complexities of governance, yet hides his incompetence in bluster.

His tone, his demeanor, and his actions are beneath the high office he occupies. We simply can not afford, at this critical time, to indulge a governor who plays out his adolescent fantasies on the public stage. He needs to drop this childish behavior and actually lead this state.

And if he doesn't understand that this kind intimidation is unethical (and maybe even illegal), and he continues to engage in it...

Then he needs to be removed from office - immediately.


thinker said...

The big, glaring lesson I learned while I worked in the legal industry is that the law is the law and it is absolute...unless you are a lawyer. The manipulation, bordering on dishonesty at times, is why I left the industry. It seems our governor, who should be upholding the law, is so entrenched his lawyerly ways that he doesn't think the law applies to him.

"I have a message to the politicians...I mave a message to the lawyers..." Wow. Christie, dude, this may have escaped your notice but YOU are both lawyer and politician. Seriously, Christie's claim that lawyers and politicians put themselves ahead of the interests of our children and state is a bit silly considering his own attitude of putting what he wants ahead of everything else. Apparently, that pesky little thing called the law should not get in the way of what he and he alone wants because after all HE is right and has all the answers. Yeah, that's not at all hypocritical, is it?

Interesting that hubris is so often a fatal flaw...

Duke said...

Jerry Seinfeld once said, "If life's a game, lawyers are the ones who have actually read the rules on the back of the box."

Doesn't mean they always play by them, though.

Lisa said...

>>Then he needs to be removed from office - immediately.<<

I read that the earliest date that a recall in NJ can be filed is 11/30. I've also read a lot of chatter on the net that there are plans to file a recall on that date; if nothing else there's a lot of sentiment to do so. If memory serves, it's very difficult to accomplish in NJ because it takes 25% of the registered electorate to vote for a recall. However, imo, given the short and long term damage he's doing to our institutions, politics, economy, families, and NJ's culture, it's worth the effort. Even if it fails, a valiant and well-publicized effort *may* send an important message--and possibly take some air out of his bluster.

Do you (or does anyone here on Duke's intelligent and informative blog) have any information on plans to file a recall?

(Duke--if this question or discussion is inappropriate or undesired by you here, please accept my apologies and take it down.)

Duke said...

No apologies needed - hey, I brought it up!

People have talked about a recall, but I don't know any specifics. At this point, I really think it's a pipe dream, but if he continues to flout both ethics and the law...

Anonymous said...

"I'm coming!"
Sounds like he's also addicted to porn, or is seriously delusional and thinks he's either Sam or Dave...

Anonymous said...

What is wrong with Christie? Maybe he's as ticked off with the shape of this state like a lot of us. It's time for tough talk and tough actions. Too bad that the Liberals have been coddled for too long.

Duke said...

Anon #1 - you are the bomb! That's a great joke on so many levels! Hee, hee, hee....

Duke said...

Anon #2 - my sucky blog doesn't get much trolling. But if you are gonna post, could you please move beyond the Rush/Beck/Sean parroting and give us something to actually work with here?

"Coddled liberals"? Dude, bring your A game, or don't show up at all.