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“His Problems Go Deeper”: Chris Christie Is No John McCain

It’s no surprise that Chris Christie has adopted the straight-talk strategy that carried John McCain to a huge upset victory over George W. Bush in the 2000 New Hampshire primary and helped him win the Republican presidential nomination in 2008. It’s a natural fit given the New Jersey governor’s blunt, outspoken personality.

Yet McCain was in first or second place in polls of New Hampshire at this point both times he ran. Christie is in single digits, and as far back as ninth in one poll of the large Republican pack.

There’s a reason it’s not working. There’s no way to break this gently: Chris Christie is no John McCain.

In McCain, the Arizona senator, you had a bona fide Vietnam War hero who had spent more than five years as a prisoner of war. You had a presidential candidate whose candor on the 2000 trail was startling, sometimes charming and occasionally quite personal.

When a voter in rural New Hampshire complained about substandard medical facilities, McCain said that was the price for the voter’s choice to live in a gorgeous setting instead of a more populated area. When another New Hampshire voter worried aloud about whether his child would be able to get a factory job, McCain advised him to aim higher for his child. He undercut his own anti-abortion position when a reporter asked if he’d forbid an abortion for his teenage daughter if she became pregnant — saying he’d discourage that but the final decision would be hers. When the predictable furor erupted, he did not kick the press off the bus.

With McCain, you also had politician who was publicly and continually remorseful about his role in a campaign finance scandal, who then became passionate about breaking the connection between money and influence. This defining ethics challenge came in 1987. That’s the year McCain and four other senators asked federal regulators to drop charges against the Lincoln Savings and Loan chaired by Charles Keating Jr., a donor to all their campaigns.

Taxpayers were on the hook for a $3 billion bailout when Lincoln S&L collapsed in 1989. McCain called his intervention on behalf of Keating “the worst mistake of my life.” A decade later he made campaign finance reform the centerpiece of his first presidential campaign.

Bridgegate has been Christie’s defining ethics challenge. The massively disruptive four-day traffic jam on the Fort Lee approach to the George Washington Bridge was engineered by his aides in 2013 as political revenge against a Democratic mayor who did not support him for re-election that year. For nearly a week, their fake “traffic study” turned 30-minute commutes into three and four hours. The New York Times offered a sampling of who was trapped in the crippling gridlock: first responders in police cars and ambulances; buses of kids headed to the first day of school; a longtime unemployed man who was late for his first day at a new job, and a woman who couldn’t reach the hospital in time for her husband’s stem-cell transplant.

Christie said he had been “blindsided” by the plot. He said he was embarrassed and humiliated and apologized to “the people of New Jersey” and “the people of Fort Lee.” He also denied creating an atmosphere that led to such behavior and maintained that “I am not a bully.” If he had followed the McCain model, Christie would have then become a highly visible national advocate for good government, political civility and excellence in public service. He might have started an organization to that effect, or joined one. Alternatively, perhaps he would have launched or lent his name to an anti-bullying organization.

Unlike McCain, Christie does not have a heroic personal biography to cushion problems. He does have a long, mixed, and controversial record as governor. He also has a long trail of viral videos that show him insulting and shouting at people who disagree with his policies. That image was a boon for his popularity and his fundraising for his party. He used to revel in it. Now, not so much. Now he is trying to morph into a policy truthteller on entitlements, taxes, and national security.

“Real. Honest. Direct. Tell It Like It Is.” According to National Journal, that’s the banner that advertised Christie’s recent appearance at The Village Trestle tavern in Goffstown, New Hampshire. But there’s a difference between confrontational straight talk and the McCain 2000 brand of straight talk. Christie, belatedly realizing that the first kind is not presidential, is trying to transition to the latter. But his problems go deeper than that, as do his differences from McCain.

 

By: Jill Lawrence, The National Memo, June 11, 2015

June 11, 2015 Posted by | Chris Christie, GOP Presidential Candidates, John McCain | , , , , , | 2 Comments

“Christie Runs Into Budgeting And Bullying Trouble”: How Often Do You Have To Be Wrong Before You’re Dismissed Governor?

The speculation about New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s (R) plans two years from now is not only premature, it’s also obscuring the fact that the governor has some pressing problems right now.

A major Wall Street credit-rating agency downgraded New Jersey’s debt again Thursday, unnerved by “both the scale and belatedness” of an $807 million budget gap disclosed this week by Gov. Chris Christie’s administration.

The action by Fitch Ratings followed a similar ratings cut last month by Standard & Poor’s. Earlier this week, Moody’s Investors Service called the shortfall a “credit negative development,” forewarning that yet another downgrade may be coming.

The Fitch analysts wrote that the downgrade “incorporates the state’s ongoing budget strain created by overly optimistic revenue forecasts, a multitude of long-term spending pressures, and the state’s repeated reliance on one-time solutions to achieve budgetary balance.”

The more a state’s debt is downgraded, the more difficult it is for the state to borrow for capital improvements.

State Sen. Paul Sarlo (D), the legislature’s budget committee chairman, told the Star-Ledger, “Credit-rating agencies have no faith in the fiscal health of the state of New Jersey because year in and year out we miss our revenue targets. If we continue at this pace, we’re going to end up in junk-bond status. This is crazy.”

And how does this relate to Christe? Because it was the governor who was warned about “overly optimistic revenue forecasts,” and instead of taking them seriously, Christie bullied those who told him the truth.

Andrew Prokop had a good report on this the other day.

“Governor Christie’s predictions for tax collections have missed the mark,” the Bergen Record’s John Reitmeyer writes today, and the state now has an $800 million budget shortfall. It’s only the latest in a series of optimistic budget estimates by Christie that have been disproven by reality.

Economic forecasting is hard, and there isn’t malfeasance behind every missed projection. But what makes this particularly embarrassing for Christie is that, when the state’s top budget wonk criticized his past forecasts, Christie responded by insulting him and suggesting that he be fired.

Almost immediately after Christie released his budget projections for 2014 last year, they seemed wildly unrealistic. But as the governor geared up for re-election, he didn’t want to increase taxes or make sharp spending cuts, so Christie assured everyone that a revenue windfall was on the way.

David Rosen, the chief budget officer for the last 30 years for New Jersey’s Office of Legislative Services, tried to explain that the governor’s projections simply weren’t reliable. The governor, true to form, attacked.

Weeks later, Christie went further, going after Rosen personally in what the Star-Ledger called “a fiery 20-minute tirade.” He called Rosen, widely respected among legislators of both parties for years, a “Dr. Kevorkian of the numbers” and asked, “Why would anybody with a functioning brain believe this guy? … How often do you have to be wrong to finally be dismissed?” Christie went on: “It should be humiliating to him. Nobody in this state believes David Rosen, anymore, nobody. And nobody should. He’s so wrong, for so long, that his credibility is now gone.”

But Rosen wasn’t wrong; Christie was. In fact, Rosen’s restrained criticism of the governor’s numbers was too kind – Christie was even further from reality than Rosen predicted.

In other words, the Republican governor was (a) wrong; (b) irresponsible with state finances; and (c) tried to bully the one credible figure who told Christie the truth he didn’t want to hear. And now New Jersey is struggling to deal with the consequences.

Two weeks ago, at a town-hall forum, the governor demanded proof that he’d created a culture of intimidation in Trenton. The evidence  really isn’t that hard to come by.

 

By: Steve Benen, The Maddow Blog, May 5, 2014

May 6, 2014 Posted by | Chris Christie | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

“Birds Of A Feather Stick Together”: Raging Bulls, Christie And Rove

When I saw that Karl Rove had said that Chris Christie’s handling of the bridge-closing scandal would give “him some street cred with some tea party Republicans” and essentially proved that he had the right qualities to be president, I wasn’t just reminded that Rove was the main architect of the U.S. Attorney dismissal scandal (that Christie somehow escaped). I was also reminded of an experience reporter Ron Suskind had when he went to the White House to interview Rove. He wrote about it in Esquire back in January of 2003.

Eventually, I met with Rove. I arrived at his office a few minutes early, just in time to witness the Rove Treatment, which, like LBJ’s famous browbeating style, is becoming legend but is seldom reported. Rove’s assistant, Susan Ralston, said he’d be just a minute. She’s very nice, witty and polite. Over her shoulder was a small back room where a few young men were toiling away. I squeezed into a chair near the open door to Rove’s modest chamber, my back against his doorframe.

Inside, Rove was talking to an aide about some political stratagem in some state that had gone awry and a political operative who had displeased him. I paid it no mind and reviewed a jotted list of questions I hoped to ask. But after a moment, it was like ignoring a tornado flinging parked cars. “We will f*ck him. Do you hear me? We will f*ck him. We will ruin him. Like no one has ever f*cked him!” As a reporter, you get around—curse words, anger, passionate intensity are not notable events—but the ferocity, the bellicosity, the violent imputations were, well, shocking. This went on without a break for a minute or two. Then the aide slipped out looking a bit ashen, and Rove, his face ruddy from the exertions of the past few moments, looked at me and smiled a gentle, Clarence-the-Angel smile. “Come on in.” And I did. And we had the most amiable chat for a half hour.

This, I imagine, is much like the phone call (or meeting) that Chris Christie made that drove his deputy chief of staff Bridget Anne Kelly to initiate the plot to close the Fort Lee access lanes to the George Washington Bridge. Whether the idea was to get a piece of the Hudson Lights luxury development in Fort Lee, as Steve Kornacki proposed on his program this morning, or it was retaliation for the blockage of Supreme Court nominees, as Rachel Maddow has speculated, or it was for some unknown reason, it is very clear that those lanes were not closed because of the lack of an endorsement, or without Christie’s rage being the cause.

Karl Rove can obviously relate.

 

By: Maritn Longman, Washington Monthly Political Animal, January 12, 2014

January 13, 2014 Posted by | Chris Christie, Karl Rove | , , , , , , , | Leave a comment

David Prosser Probably Had A Very Good Reason For Putting His Hands On Colleague’s Neck

Wisconsin Supreme Court Justice David Prosser seems to have a bit of a temper! And he also seems to maybe have a bit of a history of verbally and perhaps physically attacking women. The latest, in case you haven’t heard, has the conservative justice accused of putting a liberal colleague in a “chokehold.” Here’s the thing: Even the anonymous sources defending Prosser say he put his hands around Justice Ann Walsh Bradley’s neck. They just say it was in self-defense.

Last year, Prosser screamed at a different (female) colleague, reportedly calling her a “bitch” and threatening to “destroy” her. When asked about all that, he blamed her for “goading” him into attacking her. That is classic psycho behavior, but I have to say that I did not expect Prosser to be accused of physical violence. And, you know, I wouldn’t expect “these women keep forcing me to attack them” to continue working as an excuse for attacking colleagues, but I guess I’m underestimating the conservative movement! Because everyone is running with the “Prosser was forced to put his hands on her neck because she ran towards him” story. Fox Nation headline: “WI Judge Prosser Smeared?” Human Events blames “Big Labor” for forcing Prosser to attack his colleagues.

Here’s Ann Althouse’s (a law professor!) defense:

ALSO: People may assume that the man is larger than the woman, but — from what I have heard — Bradley is significantly larger than Prosser. Bradley is also 7 years younger than Prosser, who is 68.

Compelling!

Bradley isn’t accused by anyone of laying a hand on Prosser. The case for Prosser is that Bradley came at him and he pushed her back in “defense,” but everyone seems to agree that his hands did end up on her neck. I don’t really think there’s any justification for that! And attacking women and then blaming them for making you do it is how abusive assholes justify their behavior. Not that I know the facts of this horrible case. But I tend to side with the people who don’t have a history of threatening to “destroy” people, because that is how comic book characters talk.

Anyway, now the right wants to recall Bradley, for attacking Prosser with her huge, terrifying neck.

 

By: Alex Pareene, Salon War Room, June 27, 2011

June 28, 2011 Posted by | Conservatives, Elections, GOP, Politics, Republicans, Right Wing, Wisconsin, Wisconsin Republicans, Women | , , , , , , | Leave a comment

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