Yesterday, our governor distinguished himself by calling an Iraq War veteran an “idiot.”
No, I’m not kidding. Matt Katz tells the story:
At a town hall meeting in front of hundreds of people at the Roebling firehouse, Christie said current Rutgers-Camden students would be able to graduate with Rutgers degrees. But that did not placate William Brown, 34, a former Navy SEAL and second-year Rutgers-Camden law student, who asked about the future.
“What about my son? What about my neighbors? What about my friends?” Brown asked.
More below the fold …
Christie tried to explain why he was going to make sure the merger happened despite what has become an increasingly mobilized and vocal opposition. But Brown repeatedly interrupted the Republican governor.
“Listen, pal, I sat here and listened to your story and your position…and if you decide what you want to do is put on a show today, let me tell you something, I can go back and forth with you as much as you want,” Christie said.
Christie said not everyone at Rutgers is against the merger, and he was “providing opportunities for a bigger and better university.”
Brown yelled: “Nobody at Rutgers wants it, nobody in South Jersey!”
Then Christie stopped trying to explain his position, and called for the next question.
“And let me tell you something,” Christie said, his voice rising. “If after you graduate from law school you conduct yourself like that in a courtroom, your rear end’s going to be thrown in jail, idiot.”
Now I wasn’t there, so I don’t know if Brown overstepped the lines of civility. But all seasoned politicians know constituents can get passionate when asking questions. Even if Brown went too far, a true statesman would have been able to defuse this situation.
But not Chris Christie – he lives for this kind of stuff. There’s little doubt he enjoys flinging insults at his critics – but only when he controls the platform, and only when he has an audience of sycophants behind him.
Some in the punditocracy find this “refreshing”; I find it appalling. No constituent, no matter how rude, deserves to be castigated in this way – especially by a man in Christie’s position. He isn’t some back-bencher or marginal gadfly; he’s the governor. And this state, for all of its Jersey Shore attitude, deserves better than a leader who loves nothing more than a roll in the mud.
If this were an isolated incident, I would dismiss it – but it’s not. He has publicly slapped down teachers and other public workers for daring to question him to his face. He’s yelled at constituents who point out his personal hypocrisy on school funding. He’s called duly elected legislators “jerks,” and called for the press to “take a bat to” a 76-year-old grandmother and Senator.
(Funny how so many of these attacks seem to be against women, isn’t it? When you combine this pattern with the fact that three-quarters of teachers are women, his personal attacks on teachers begin to make a sort of twisted sense.)
I’m no psychologist, but these appear to be the signs of a man who is not well. Something is very wrong with Chris Christie. For all of our sakes, I hope he gets some help.