Sunday, December 05, 2010

Dignity, Thy Name Is Chris

Oh, it was so cruel of then-New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine, running for re-election against Repub Chris Christie. In October, 2008, The New York Times captured the flavor of mainstream media outrage at the attention Corzine's ads drew to his opponent's body frame:

It is about as subtle as a playground taunt: a television ad for Gov. Jon S. Corzine shows his challenger, Christopher J. Christie, stepping out of an S.U.V. in extreme slow motion, his extra girth moving, just as slowly, in several different directions at once.

Christopher J. Christie, who said he had struggled with his size since his teens, called an ad by Gov. Jon S. Corzine’s campaign that makes a snide reference to his weight “silly” and “stupid.”

Mr. Corzine, a fitness buff, said candidates often objected to depictions of themselves.

In case viewers missed the point, a narrator snidely intones that Mr. Christie “threw his weight around” to avoid getting traffic tickets.

In the ugly New Jersey contest for governor, Mr. Corzine and Mr. Christie have traded all sorts of shots, over mothers and mammograms, loans and lying. But now, Mr. Corzine’s campaign is calling attention to his rival’s corpulence in increasingly overt ways.

Mr. Corzine’s television commercials and Web videos feature unattractive images of Mr. Christie, sometimes shot from the side or backside, highlighting his heft, jowls and double chin....

The governor denies that he is deliberately ridiculing Mr. Christie’s weight, and tries to make light of such suggestions. “There isn’t a candidate in the world that likes how they’re depicted in their opponent’s ads,” Mr. Corzine said on Friday, smiling as he lamented that some have shown his bald pate. “Seems to be some sensitivity going on here.”

But the unflattering depictions of Mr. Christie, a Republican who has long struggled with his size, have been the talk of the political world in New Jersey, with Democrats snickering and Christie supporters privately complaining. The governor’s latest ad, which featured the “threw his weight around” line and was expected to be seen by some viewers as many as 10 times, brought sharp reaction, even from those who like Mr. Corzine.

“There’s no subtlety there,” said Bill Baroni, a Republican state senator from Hamilton who lost 130 pounds starting 15 years ago. “That’s not a randomly chosen phrase. It’s purposeful. And it’s offensive.”

Mr. Baroni said that Mr. Corzine risked a backlash from the “tens of thousands” of New Jerseyans who struggle with their weight. “It is a lifetime battle,” he said. “And it’s made harder when people that you expect better from make fun of you.”

Mr. Christie calls the ad “silly” and “stupid....”

Republicans "complained" while Democrats "snickered" that the challenger "threw his weight around." CNN's Howard Kurtz could have been speaking for his journalistic colleagues when, the weekend before the election, he charged "Jon Corzine calling the Republican candidate, Chris Christie fat, or implying he was overweight."

It was so good being assured that Jon Corzine, noting that Christie "threw his weight around," really was talking only about his opponent's weight. Perhaps these guys would like to explain this (illustration below):

Gov. Chris Christie took off his jacket, rolled up his sleeves and warned the crowd: This, he said, is when his explosive town hall moments happen.

He waded into Parsippany yesterday — the epicenter of his battle with school superintendents. He appeared to be looking for a fight.

And he got it.

The Parsippany town hall, his 15th such event, proved to be the governor’s most explosive yet. There were robust challenges to his economic and education policies from all sides, catcalls, heckling, and three people were removed by the police. And despite of all of that, or because of it, he ended the night with an ovation.

Keith Chaudruc, of Madison, got the final question of the night.

The Livingston school district elementary teacher launched into a list of complaints about drops in municipal aid, increasing NJ Transit fares and tax cuts for those making more than $1 million.

His question: How could Christie sign off on a tax cut for the most wealthy, ignoring the regressive nature of the sales tax, while those at the bottom were getting squeezed with increases like the transit fares?

The two adversaries went back and forth for a few minutes, until Chaudruc, a Republican, interrupted the governor.

"You want to come up here?" Christie shouted. "You come up here ... Let’s have a conversation.."

Chaudruc, who stands 5’6" and weighs about 160 pounds, backed away until the governor insisted "bring him up here," and a state trooper escorted him to the stage.

Christie, a few inches taller and several pounds heavier, loomed over Chaudruc as he launched into a tirade.

"Your wonderful increase in taxes would have killed jobs in this state," Christie said pointing his index finger at Chaudruc. "You and I have different ideas of what being a Republican is all about because I’m not going to raise taxes."

Before he could get another word in, Chaudruc was ushered off the stage and out of the room by a trooper.

"It’s his playground. He holds the ball," Chaudruc said afterward, adding that Christie never answered his question.

Let's go over this slowly for the Republican media. Questioner, 5'6", 160 pounds. Governor, much larger. Questioner dragged down by a state trooper to face the finger-pointing, lecturing GOP rock star and "escorted" back by a state trooper acting as Christie's enforcer. Governor Chris Christie. Very classy, and certainly never "throwing his weight around."

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