Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Chris Christie: The Old, Conservative Uncle At Christmas

This is just the latest gem from Christie.

On Monday, Gov. Chris Christie referred to an openly-gay state lawmaker as “numb nuts” after that Democratic Assemblyman compared him to two former segregationist governors from the South.
Assemblyman Reed Gusciora (D-Mercer/Hunterdon), who is a sponsor of marriage equality legislation in the Garden State, was upset by Christie’s suggestion that gay marriage should be a ballot question instead of being legislated in Trenton.
Christie was also criticized for saying “I think people would have been happy to have a referendum on civil rights rather than fighting and dying in the streets in the South.”
Gusciora responded to Christie’s suggestion, saying it was “very disturbing.”
“Govs. Lester Maddox and George Wallace would have found allies in Chris Christie over efforts by the Justice Department to end segregation in the South. It took a lot of bravery by a lot of people, including elected officials, to stand up for what was right and protect equal rights in this nation,” Gusciora said in a statement last Thursday.

Christie tried to clean it up then:

For his part, Christie said those comments were misconstrued and that it was clear such an option would not have been available for those fighting for justice during the Civil Rights movement in the 1960′s because the “political climate in the South didn’t give them the option.”
“You have numb nuts like Reed Gusciora, who put out a statement comparing me to George Wallace and Lester Maddox. Now, come on guys, at some point, you’ve got be able to call B.S. on those kind of press releases,” Christie said.
Gusciora took the “numb nuts” label in stride and apparently wasn’t all that offended.  Instead, he chose to focus on the topic of gay marriage during an interview with 1010 WINS on Monday.
“I’ll take the governor’s comment as Jersey talk for a term of endearment. But nonetheless, by not enacting marriage equality in the state, you render gays and lesbians to second-class citizens,” Gusciora said.
Gusciora said he believes Christie “knows better,” but is “auditioning for the vice presidency.”
“The governor has said that segregation law should’ve been put up for the ballot, but back then, had it been put to the ballot, I think people in the South would have overwhelming supported the segregation laws,” Gusciora said.

Now I was born in Jersey, and my father's family is primarily from Jersey. They're a bunch of Slovak Catholics from the Garden State, and some of them even support Christie. For my part, I get his appeal, but I can't stand the guy.

Chris Christie is the overweight old uncle at the holidays, who after a few drinks get in him, he tells you how your generation is the problem, how the Democratic Party has stunk since Kennedy, and how Ronald Reagan is a saint. He'll tell you that President Obama wants to raise his taxes, even though his taxes went down (federally) in the last few years. He'll tell you how great Christie is, but when you catch him off guard with "how much have your local taxes went up in the Christie era," he'll tell you that you just don't get it. He may, begrudgingly, tell you that President Clinton did a good job, but not before either bashing him for the Lewinsky affair, or making a joke about it.

When that uncle hears Chris Christie talking like this about marriage equality, he nods his head in agreement. He'll tell you he doesn't hate these people, he just doesn't see the need to give them marriage rights. Christie's banking on that here.

See, the thing about New Jersey is, a lot of these guys are there, and a lot of them might even vote for the President in 2012. They'll also back Christie though, and won't ever vote for gay marriage. This kind of gets to the assemblyman's point though, isn't this like 1960's era southern voters? Culturally conservative, economically liberal-ish, they would tell you they don't hate the "black" folks at all, they just don't think there's a need for integration. They don't see any need for change. So yes, Chris Christie may be handling this like Wallace handled Alabama, even though I'd hesitate to put him in the class of Wallace right now.

I think this is also instructive about Chris Christie the potential future candidate. Put him in Mitt Romney's shoes right now. Could he get away with calling Newt Gingrich "numb nuts" in a national campaign? How about in President Obama's shoes? Could he call a foreign leader a name like that? No, neither is a good possibility for him. While he endears himself well, and may connect to a segment of society better than Romney does, this is simply no way to be a candidate. In my view, Christie is disqualifying himself more from the oval office every chance he gets. 

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