Saturday, March 23, 2013

Now It's "Boy"

It has been ten days.

In those eleven days, the talk about Chris Christie in the national media has remained upbeat, positive, and positively ignorant.  Typical was an exchange between a longtime Democratic politician and Chris Matthews on Thursday's Hardball:

or Clinton would prefer not to have to face Charlie Crist or anybody like 
Charlie Crist, in this case, obviously the governor of New Jersey.

MATTHEWS: You mean Crist Christie, Crist Christie.


BROWN: Yes, I was going to -- I like Charlie Crist better, because that 
was a better contrast.
But Chris Christie is in fact the one guy that these two people would not 
like to have to face, simply because he can go into the Democratic world 
and have some credibility, as he`s proven almost daily in New Jersey.

MATTHEWS: Can he keep up? I want to get back to the two younger guys that 
seem like the hot guys. Can a guy like Christie keep up this attitude of 
it`s none of your business, that sort of street talk that`s made him 
popular? Can you sustain that? Ed Koch did it for like 12 years before he 
ran out of that steam.

In those eleven days, few outside of New Jersey media have taken a close look at what Chris Christie actually does or says, which is not only reprehensible, but completely in character.   At a town hall on Tuesday, March 12 in one of New Jersey's largest cities, the governor continued the crusade for his own vision (vouchers) to destroy the public school system., the online version of the highest-circulating newspaper (The Star Ledger of Newark), reported

The pastor of the Paterson church that hosted Gov. Chris Christie’s town hall earlier this week said the governor should apologize to Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver for referring to her by her gender and race — instead of her name — while saying she is blocking a school reform bill he favors.

Rev. Kenneth D.R. Clayton, pastor for St. Luke Baptist Church, said he was "saddened by the governor’s blatant attack of Speaker Sheila Oliver" on Tuesday after audience members pressed Christie to address long-standing problems at Paterson schools.

Christie told the town hall audience he strongly supports a bill creating a trial voucher program for students to attend private and parochial schools, but "we have an African-American female speaker of the Assembly ... who refuses to let people vote on this bill."
Christie also said: "Why is it taking a Republican governor from the suburbs to stand up and fight the teachers union and the urban political machine to say, ‘Hey, I want to give your children a shot?’ Let me tell you what that is, that’s the worst kind of discrimination from my perspective."

A few days later, some outlets recognized another Christie-like comment (video below) made during the same exchange.   PolitickerNJ noted

Gov. Chris Christie’s use of the word “boy” in a Paterson Baptist church stirred ensuing debate within the African-American community, as some claim he simply used the word as an exclamation while others take offense at the governor’s remarks.
The incident happened last Tuesday.

While at a town hall meeting Gov. Chris Christie attempted to advance the ideals of vouchers, itemizing the benefits particularly for African American parents.  However, something seemed to go array.

The stage was set when Christie referenced Speaker Sheila Oliver (D-34) without fully acknowledging her elected position, as elected officials had chastised him for doing on a number of occasions, just the first mis-step that day.

When Christie Town hall attendee Mike Henry, a deacon of the church and an African-American, yelled, “Fix our public schools” from the back of St. Luke’s, the vouchers-advocating governor responded: “You can yell all you want about ‘fix the public schools.”

Henry yelled again, “Fix the public schools,” at which point Christie said, “Yeah, I hear you, boy, I hear you.”

Opinions differed as to the nature of the New Jersey governor's remark.  Reverend Kenneth Clayton, who had invited Christie to the church, apparently believes that racists are determined to sound bigoted.  He contended (emphasis mine)  “We are not political allies but what I think is that was a misuse of the term on his part - but not intentional.  I do not think it was the governor’s intent to be racist"  After viewing a video, one fellow commented “Although I am not a fan of Christie, I think that this video and its poor editing has (sic) done a superb job of making this sound like a racist thing instead of a slang expression.”

However, State Senator Ronald L. Rice, head of the Legislative Black Caucus, argued "I believe it’s in him and it came out. He has a Bull Connor mentality. He’s taking the same approach, putting his bullying process on us. It bothers me. He doesn’t want anyone to challenge him.”

Bingo! No one knows if Christopher J. Christie is a racist; probably not.  His agenda, in either case, is far less ethnic or racial than corporate and self-centered.   Whether it's (Christie's greatest hits, below) calling a reporter an "idiot," hectoring a teacher about "stand(ing) up and fighting the teacher's union," raging against a teacher who dares confront him about policy, threatening to beat up a constituent on the New Jersey boardwalk, or calling an adult "boy," it's always the same with Christie.  It's a wealthy (mostly through his wife) governor belligerently expressing his sense of superiority by demeaning someone else.

The governor of New Jersey employed the term "boy" as did the segregationists of old, though he may have done so even if his critic were white.  Anyone questioning him gets the same treatment, "the same approach, putting his bullying process on us.... He doesn't want anyone to challenge him."  For those of us who are male, white, of the same generation, and of the same part of the country as Chris Christie, "boy" is not the slang expression used. It always has been "man," as in "thanks for calling, man" or "Yeh, I hear you, man."

Christie's policies, seemingly out of the Club for Growth textbook, are bad enough.  Other Republicans from (Iowa Representative) Steve King to Mitt Romney to Rudy Giuliani have similar ideas about how to control the lower and middle classes.  What separates Chris Christie from the pack is a temperament clearly unsuited to the office to which he aspires, the U.S. presidency.   The media, meanwhile, will continue its love affair with him until it slowly comes to the realization it has been snookered.

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