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

Monday, October 13, 2014

@GovChristie Is SOLELY Responsible For A Climate of Disrespect Toward NJ Teachers

I didn't think Chris Christie's hypocrisy and self-righteousness could get any worse. I was wrong:

"I think it's interesting that there's this perception of disrespect toward public employees. I find it fascinating. I really do. And here's why: 
"You see, I come out and say what I believe needs to be a policy for the state. Whether it's education reform, whether it's spending reform, whether it's tax reform, whether it's litigation reform, any of those issues. I come out and say what I believe. It's my job as governor. I'm obligated to do that.
"I will tell you though at times that I feel like the disrespect in this relationship has been disproportionate. See, when a public employee union in this state between January of 2010 and mid-year of 2013 -- put aside the political campaigns -- spends tens of millions of dollars in ads that says things like: 'Chris Christie. He loves millionaires. He hates children.' 
"Now listen, no matter what any of you may think of me politically in this room, I do not believe that there is a person of good will in this room who believes that I hate children. Not one. But it is an interesting moment in a public servants's life when you're driving down the New Jersey Turnpike, and your [points at himself] children see a billboard that says that their father hates children.  
"Now, of all the things that I've said over time about leaders of our public employee unions, I've never said they hate their children. I've never said they hate their family. I don't think I've ever said they hate anybody. That's a big thing to say, everybody."
First of all, let's be clear: he's talking about the New Jersey Education Association. I know Matt Friedman of the Star-Ledger, a good reporter, is trying to play this fair, and he should. Yes, Christie didn't directly say the NJEA -- but everyone who knows anything about this state knows exactly what's he's talking about.

And, as usual, Christie is just making stuff up:
Christie never said which union ran the ad, but his fights have been most intense with the NJEA, which spent tens of millions of dollars — far more than any other union — to oppose him. 
“I’m sure it’s in reference to us. I have no doubt about it,” said NJEA spokesman Steve Wollmer.

And indeed, the NJEA did run a billboard criticizing Christie that had the word “millionaires” in it. But, according to an image of the billboard provided to NJ Advance Media by the NJEA, it said this:

“Tell Governor Christie: Protect our schools, not millionaires.” It then referred them to its anti-Christie website Millionairesforchristie.com.

Wollmer said that billboard, which it began running in the spring of 2011 in several locations, was its only one criticizing the governor. 
This is not the first time Chris Christie has mischaracterized his critics; the governor has previously claimed that teachers union officials prayed for his death:
"The head of the teachers union in Bergen County sent out an email encouraging his members to pray for the death of the governor" (7:45): Let's lay this stupidity to rest once and for all. Here's the "prayer" that was sent out:
"Dear Lord this year you have taken away my favorite actor, Patrick Swayze, my favorite actress, Farrah Fawcett, my favorite singer, Michael Jackson, and my favorite salesman, Billy Mays. I just wanted to let you know that Chris Christie is my favorite governor."
You would have to be the biggest moron in the world to believe this is a "prayer," and you'd have to be the biggest tool in the world to argue that this was "praying for your death." It's a stupid, tasteless, unprofessional joke that should not have been sent, but it's no more than that.
So, yes, our governor has a casual relationship with the truth. But Christie's real sin here is how he tries to distance himself from the toxic atmosphere that he -- and he alone -- has created for teachers in this state. 

As nauseous as this always makes me, let's go back and review Chris Christie's greatest teacher bashing hits:

April, 2010, CNBC:
“I love the public schools but the fact of the matter is there is excess and greed there,” said Christie, during an appearance on CNBC’s Squawk Box. [That's in the "public schools," not the union offices - JJ]
July, 2010, MSNBC:
The state teachers union said--they had a rally in Trenton against me. 35,000 people came from the teachers. You know what that rally was? The "me first" rally. "Pay me my raise first. Pay me my free health benefits first. Pay me my pension first. And everybody else in New Jersey, get to the back of the line." Well, you know what? I'm not going to sit by and allow that to go unnoticed, so we'll shine a bright light on it, and we'll see how the people react. But I think we are seeing how the people of New Jersey are reacting, and that's how you make it politically palatable in other states in the country. Just shine a bright light on greed and self-interest.
April, 2010, The Star-Ledger:
 "Scaring students in the classroom, scaring parents with the notes home in the bookbags, and the mandatory 'Project Democracy Homework' asking your parents about what they're going to do in the school board election, and reporting back to your teachers union representatives, using the students like drug mules to carry information back to the classroom, is reprehensible."
November, 2010, The Trentonian:
“These teachers have all summer off. Can’t they have their convention during the summer?’’ the governor said as he spoke to a clutch of high schoolers surrounding him.

“They got to get two days off from school because, you know, they don’t get enough time off now, right? They get two weeks off at Christmas, they get all the different holidays, then they get all the summer off and now they need two more days.

“Why do you think that is? Do you think If they cared about learning where would they be today?’’

Ashley Batts, 16, a Trenton Central High School sophomore answered “in school.’’

“That’s right, in school, baby, they would not be down there in Atlantic City having a party — because that’s what it is.’’ [Does everyone understand that the Governor of New Jersey told a group of students that their teachers do not care about learning? Does everyone think that's acceptable? - JJ]
May, 2010, Politico:
The teacher responded by saying that she has a master’s degree and that her current salary isn’t compensating her for the value of her higher education as well as her experience. 
To that, the governor responded: “Well, you know then that you don’t have to do it.”
 March, 2010, Blue Jersey, quoting Christie directly:
"Teachers who crowded the statehouse on Monday to try to intimidate public officials like Assemblyman Schroeder and Assemblywoman Vandervalk into not voting for pension and benefit reform.
"And when one teacher was asked, "What are you doing here today? It's a Monday in the school year." She said, 'Oh, we got a substitute. I left a plan; it's not like they're watching videos or something.' 
"They. 'Not like they're watching videos or something.' I thought that was a really interesting part of the quote. That contraction: 'they're.' They didn't say 'the kids' then, did they? No, they only use the words 'the kids' when they want to evoke an emotional response from you which will get you to open your wallet and pay them. 
"When they're talking about protesting and fighting in Trenton, then it's 'they're.' 'They're watching videos or something.' I thought that was an interesting part of the quote. Language matters, ladies and gentlemen. Language is a window into attitude. And this isn't about the kids. So let's dispense with that portion of the argument. 
"And I have heard these stories over the last week, over and over again from all over New Jersey about teachers standing in front of classrooms, and lying about and excoriating the governor and the lieutenant governor." [This one is my personal favorite. He is criticizing a teacher for using a pronoun to describe her students. So, every time you hear Chris Christie use a pronoun to describe kids - or seniors, or taxpayers, or police, or the military, or whomever - understand that, by his definition, that's an insult. - JJ]
April, 2013, NJ Politicker:
Gov. Chris Christie blames “special interest” groups on the failure to enact certain school reforms he says are necessary to improving education in New Jersey.

The governor told a friendly Bergenfield crowd Tuesday that Garden State students are in need of more hours in the classroom and longer school years in order to stay competitive. Christie blamed special interests with blocking those changes for purely their own personal interests.

They don’t want a longer school year, they like having the summer off,” said Christie, referring to the adults – not the students – who he accuses of blocking the reforms.

Christie argued longer school days and years are needed to ensure students are educated. [emphasis mine]
November, 2013, Exclusive to JJ:
I went to listen to him speak. I stood in the front of the crowd that was standing towards the back. I know he caught sight of me. He stared at me a few times during his speech. I left right as his speech was over to position myself right at the door of the bus. He came out, shaking everyone's hands as he was getting on the bus. I asked him my question, expecting him to ignore me but he suddenly turned and went off.

I asked him: "Why do you portray our schools as failure factories?" His reply: "Because they are!"  He said: "I am tired of you people. What do you want?"
That was, of course, the great Melissa Tomlinson, who bravely stood up to this bully for the rest of us and became an overnight sensation. New Jersey's teachers will always be grateful for your courage, Melissa.

"I am tired of you people. What do you want?"

No one has done more to vilify New Jersey's public employees -- particularly teachers -- than Chris Christie. Any atmosphere of disrespect can be laid directly and solely at his feet.

This, to me, is the primary reason the man can never be allowed to become the president. Yes, his cronyism and ineptitude are stunning. But it's Christie's disturbing ability to denigrate his critics in the nastiest terms, then delude himself into thinking he is the aggrieved party, that ought to give everyone pause.

Putting someone with that kind of temper and that proclivity for self-delusion into the White House is, quite frankly, terrifying. We did it before, and it didn't work out very well, did it?

ADDING: Ani's on this as well:
First of all, about the “perception of ‘disrespect’ towards public employees” that the governor simply cannot understand and in no way perpetuates: please. See herehereherehereherehere, here, and here. Yes: the disrespect certainly has been disproportionate–on Christie’s part.
And about the child-hating: evidently Christie is referring to ads run by the New Jersey Education Association, which was the only organization running anti-Christie billboards during the time frame the governor cites.  True, the NJEA did call attention to Christie’s love affair with millionaires–but nowhere, ever, did any NJEA ads accuse the governor of hating children.
Of course they didn't.

Here's a thought: what if Chris Christie was held to the same standards for truth telling as Al Gore? Think he'd be taken seriously as a presidential contender then?

ADDING MORE: As if on cue:
Hopscotching around the country in pursuit of GOP pickups in governor’s mansions, Gov. Chris Christie has home state polling trouble, according to a poll released this morning by Rutgers-Eagleton.
For the first time since August 2011, more New Jersey voters have an unfavorable impression of Christie than a favorable one, the poll finds. Following a seven-point decline during the past two months, just 42 percent of registered voters now feel favorable toward the governor, while 45 percent feel unfavorable.
“This is the lowest favorability rating we have ever recorded for Christie, below the 44 percent of August 2011,” said David Redlawsk, director of the Eagleton Center for Public Interest Polling and professor of political science at Rutgers University. “What had seemed like a small rebound following Christie’s Bridgegate ratings collapse now looks more like a temporary blip.” [emphasis mine]
Maybe they knew Christie was crashing, and the plan is to go back to the teacher bashing of 2010, when talk radio hosts found that sort of stuff to be just so awesome, and Christie was riding high in the polls. Yes, I'm sure a little more beating down on the NJEA will erase the Revel debacle, and Bridgegate, and the lackluster job growth, and the pension mess...

Sorry, guv, but you've got a record now, and it sucks. Beating up teachers won't save you anymore.


Giuseppe said...

Christie is the most anti-union and anti public school teacher governor who has ever occupied the office. He declared war on the NJEA from day one. He demonizes the NJEA at every opportunity; he's got the bully pulpit of the governorship and a welcome mat at CNBC, Fox News, NJ101.5 and hate wing radio in general to spout his anti NJEA message (all for free, no charge). And of course the Star Ledger is dependably anti-NJEA. It's no wonder that the NJEA has to spend many dollars defending itself against this coordinated onslaught against the teachers' union.

Giuseppe said...

OK, I have to admit that the Star-Ledger was fair in this reaction to Christie's lie about the NJEA: Gov. Chris Christie on Saturday told an audience a whopping lie about the teachers union. And since he is still spreading the lie through his own social media network, we would like to clear the record.

bethree5 said...

Just one minor correction: I'd put an image of Richard Nixon on the right side of the pictorial equation. Temper [tho mostly behind closed doors for Nixon], & monumental capacity for taking appropriate criticism personally.