Copying Barack Obama
Senator, I served with Jack Kennedy, I knew Jack Kennedy, Jack Kennedy was a friend of mine. Senator, you're no Jack (Kennedy).
I did not serve with Barack Obama, nor do I know him, and therefore he is no friend of mine.But I know Christopher J. Christie is no Barack Obama.
But Chris Christie thinks he will be Barack Obama II. Salon's Alex Pareene states what is obvious, but cannot be stated enough:
Chris Christie’s keynote address at the Republican National Convention referenced “Darkness on the Edge of Town” because the thing about Chris Christie is that he is from New Jersey and he loves Bruce Springsteen. His keynote speech was a lengthy tribute to the greatness of Chris Christie, who is not on the ballot this year. I think the idea is to replicate an Obama in 2004 moment, but that moment depends on the nominee losing.
Chris Christie is all about Chris Christie, but in the age of Barack Obama, Mitt Romney, and (especially) Paul Ryan, that is not so unusual. Words matter, even when they have little policy implication and are meant to appeal to emotion. On the occasion of his keynote speech (transcript, here) at a party convention in 2004, B.O. declared
It's what allows us to pursue our individual dreams, yet still come together as a single American family: "E pluribus unum," out of many, one.
Now even as we speak, there are those who are preparing to divide us, the spin masters and negative ad peddlers who embrace the politics of anything goes.
Well, I say to them tonight, there's not a liberal America and a conservative America; there's the United States of America.
The pundits, the pundits like to slice and dice our country into red states and blue States: red states for Republicans, blue States for Democrats. But I've got news for them, too. We worship an awesome God in the blue states, and we don't like federal agents poking around our libraries in the red states.
We coach little league in the blue states and, yes, we've got some gay friends in the red states.
There are patriots who opposed the war in Iraq, and there are patriots who supported the war in Iraq.
We are one people, all of us pledging allegiance to the stars and stripes, all of us defending the United States of America.
Chris Christie tried (transcript, here) to emulate Barack Obama last night but his greatest rhetorical flourish was an uninspiring invocation of the technique of anaphora, in which he proclaimed
I won't be part of the generation that fails that test and neither will you.
It's now time to stand up. There's no time left to waste.
If you're willing to stand up with me for America's future, I will stand up with you.
If you're willing to fight with me for Mitt Romney, I will fight with you.
If you're willing to hear the truth about the hard road ahead, and the rewards for America that truth will bear, I'm here to begin with you this new era of truth-telling.
In other instances, Christie stated "we did it" four times in succession, a variation of "I was her son" five times, and "a second American century" five times four consecutive sentences.But all of it was weak tea compared to Obama's declaration
I believe that we can give our middle class relief and provide working families with a road to opportunity.
I believe we can provide jobs for the jobless, homes to the homeless, and reclaim young people in cities across America from violence and despair.
I believe that we have a righteous wind at our backs, and that as we stand on the crossroads of history, we can make the right choices and meet the challenges that face us.
But though Christie's rhetoric was far surpassed by that of Barack Obama, the Governor exceeded the Senator in one area. While Obama invoked the word "America" (as in "United States of America," "America," or "American people") 27 times, Christie did so a whopping 33 times. No politician ever lost a vote referring to America, especially without clarifying it as the "United States of America," which would, uncomfortably, remind voters that there are such places as Central America, South America, and the North American continent.
There was, additionally, the obligatory family history, intended to portray the speaker as humble, and which serves to obscure the reality that the he or she now is wealthy and living a life of comfort and opulence. For Obama, it was a father from a small village in Kenya, who attended school in a tin-roof shack, and a mother born in Kansas, a state that nearly cries "humility;" a grandfather who served under General Patton and a grandmother who worked on a bomber assembly line. For Christie, it was a father who "grew up in poverty," entered the army, and became "the first in his family to earn a college degree." And of course his mother "also came from nothing," was "raised by a single mother who took three buses to get to work every day." She was, though, "tough as nails and didn't suffer fools at all," which excited a GOP crowd for whom the only acceptable feminism is one manifested in aggressiveness and the ability to prevail over the meek.
Senator Obama's keynote speech was much longer on flowing rhetoric than on praise for his party's nominee, John Kerry. Governor Christie took the same tack, referring to Mitt Romney a mere eight times, after which he returned to speaking about America and himself, between which he cannot distinguish.
The Governor's self-absorption extended to his portrayal of his stewardship of New Jersey. He inferred that he reversed a trend "that led to wealth, jobs, and people leaving the state" and "balanced (three) budgets with lower taxes."
But the New Jersey governor neglected to mention, as Democratic State Senator Barbara Buono has, that he vetoed a millionaires' tax and now wants to reduce income taxes across-the-board, giving the wealthy another huge gift, while residents have endured a 20% net increase in property taxes during his first two years in office. Nor did he inform the conventioneers that he cut state aid for education, property tax relief for the elderly, and government worker pensions, all contrary to campaign promises. It's not surprising that he never mentioned once the word "jobs," given that there are 175,000 fewer jobs in his state now than there were in December, 2007. And New Jersey suffered the greatest employment loss, 12,000 jobs, s in the nation in July. The state ranked 47th in the nation in economic growth in 2010 and 2011.
Generously, Buono omitted reference to the assault on women's health carried on by her state's chief executive.
Unlike Senator Obama, Governor Christie won't fulfill the objective of his keynote speech. Obviously, his path will be blocked in the unlikely event the guy he ignored last night, Mitt Romney, pulls off an upset in November. Otherwise, he will face opposition from any number of unexpected sources, the 2016 equivalent of Rick Santorum, Michele Bachmann, and Herman Cain. Or perhaps Republican primary voters or the GOP establishment will decide to bypass a belligerent, narcissistic blowhard.