New Jersey governor Chris Christie hasn’t exactly kept his political aspirations—and in particular, his national political aspirations including the White House one day—under wraps. A recent New York Times article notes that Christie has recently begun to be much more vocal about his anti-abortion stance and his views on global warming than previously, a possible indicator that he’s looking beyond New Jersey for the next step in his political career. With that in mind, you’d think Christie would be a little more careful about the words he lets fly about his opponents.
Just last week, Christie used shockingly violent rhetoric in referring to State Senator Loretta Weinberg, who represents New Jersey’s densely populated Bergen County. As the Star-Ledger, reports, Christie accused Weinberg of hypocrisy in light of pension double-dipping. Weinberg had accused Christie of having double standards about criticizing political allies and, specifically, about being “soft on his political allies after it was reported that Essex County Executive Joseph N. DiVincenzo Jr. was drawing a government salary and also receiving a state pension” (Star-Ledger). After it was revealed that Weinberg has been simultaneously collecting both a pension and her lawmaker’s paycheck—Weinberg, a widow, defended herself by saying she had been forced to dip into her pension after losing her life’s savings in Bernie Madoff’s Ponzi scheme—Christie said on April 13th:
“She is the queen of double standards…No matter how long you’ve been around here, the hypocrisy meter has to tilt on her.”
Christie also got a little more “colorful” with his rhetoric, saying to reporters at a statehouse news conference:
“Can you guys please take the bat out on her for once?”
Here’s a video including footage of Christie saying the above:
In New Jersey, people have been quick (and equally colorful) to rush to support their governor, and also to criticize him for what I’d say is a troublingly violent choice of words. The New York Times notes that Democrats have been quick to call Christie out for his too-blunt words:
The Assembly speaker, Sheila Y. Oliver, called the governor’s statement “a new low in public discourse.” Stephen M. Sweeney, the Senate president, called it “offensive, indecent and so far beneath the standing of a public official it boggles the mind how the governor could even think of uttering it.”
Michael Drewniak, the governor’s press secretary, said it was clear that Mr. Christie was simply accusing the news media of being too easy on Ms. Weinberg, and that “ratcheting it up beyond that is partisan politics at its worst.”
Mr. Christie’s instinct when criticized is generally to counterattack, not explain himself. He has labeled the teachers’ union “political thugs,” accused other officials of lying, and charged teachers with “using students like drug mules” to carry political messages.
All very well for gaining headlines and comments on blogs and news websites. But you have to wonder what Christie might say about such issues as global warming (he has suggested that human activity may not be why the planet is heating up), the health care law and immigration. Within New Jersey — traditionally a Democratic state — Christie has been careful not to air his views on such topics unless asked. Then in January, while attending an anti-abortion rally in Trenton, the NJ state capital, Christie said:
“This is an issue whose time has come.”
In September, he vetoed state funding for family planning clinics. In February, he also vetoed funding for family planning that the Democratic-controlled Legislature had approved. He has also applied for federal money for abstinence-only education.
Christie’s wielding of his gubernatorial veto certainly makes his position on, or rather against, abortion and other issues more than clear. Actions do, as they say, speak louder than words. In the case of Chris Christie, it might also be said that words can speak very strongly, and revealingly, indeed.
Photo by Hoboken Condos.
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