So, I'm listening to the news and I get to see the great Republican presidential hope, Chris Christie, shake his finger in the face of a school teacher and say something like "you people have all the money you want..." Was he talking about education in general, teachers or something else. (40-something women? Brunettes?) My initial thought was that the difference between telling it like it is and being a bully is probably when 300 pound plus politician starts sticking his finger in the face of a normal sized woman. The other thing that struck was that there's something seriously insane about a system that rewards bullies with high elective office. Now, I fully expect Christie to win re-election in New Jersey and I also think he will not have a chance in the Republican primaries, but his rise indicates the problem with electoral politics in this country. He seems to be a relatively competent guy at pulling the technocratic levers and working out compromises, but his cocky, East Coast version of the GWB smug rich guy really doesn't play well. Ultimately, I expect he'll blow up on something, and that will be that -- it won't happen prior to the election.
Now, when you shake your finger in the face of someone, you're assuming a certain level of jerkdom that is seldom justified. When Governor Brewer shook her finger in the face of the President, he handled it as he has the other disrespectful acts of his presidency, and gracefully continued the conversation. Of course, given her late conversion to pragmatism on things like Medicaid expansion, it's perfectly possible that she began by saying, "Mr. President, I need to appear to be yelling at you to placate these yahoos so we ultimately get something done." No mics captured the moment. And, the governor of Arizona is not in a power position over the president of the United States. He knows that and so does she; when wildfires sweep through the brush and forests of Arizona, she'll be asking for his help and he'll be giving it. That's the way government is supposed to work.
Christie, on the other hand, chose to bully a school teacher, Melissa Tomlinson. As the Huffington Post article pointed out, she chose to respond, using the blog of a Fordham University Professor, Dr. Mark Naison's With a Brooklyn Accent, to respond to respond. The letter is worth reading as a whole, but the response to his question, "What do YOU people Want!"is worth quoting, as is her earlier expression of mistrust and disappointment with the Christie Administration.
Why do you portray schools as failure factories? What benefit do you reap from this? Have you acquired financial promises for your future campaigns as you eye the presidential nomination? Has there been back-room meetings as you agree to divert public funds to private companies that are seeking to take over our public educational system? (Farrell emphasis)This is my theory. To accomplish all of this, you are setting up the teachers to take the blame. Unfortunately, you are not the only governor in our country that has this agenda. What do “we people' want, Governor Christie? We want our schools back. We want to teach. We want to be allowed to help these children to grow, educationally, socially, and emotionally. We want to be respected as we do this, not bullied.
One thing that struck me was the rather smugly forced smile on Mrs. Christie's face. The crowd, according to Weigel was totally against the teacher and totally for Christie. However, that pained smirk bothered me. According to Weigel, he was struck by it too, but then noticed that there was a news camera on them, and the first rule for candidates wives is to keep on smiling. Having somewhat similar roots to Christie's, I'm very used to dutiful Irish wives standing by their blowhard husbands while hubby is making an ass out of himself. I expect that she let him have it when they got home -- that is the Irish way; in public, support; in private, eviscerate mercilessly. Weigel, is a relatively mainstream moderate conservative -- which means registered independent, voting Democrat and praying for the return of Richard Nixon or Ike. I enjoy his writing but he has obviously been bitten by the conspiracy bug, positing a doublespeak meaning and then moderating it a bit.
Most people commenting on the photo have gotten the details right, but I've noticed some (occasionally rude) remarks about the expression on Christie's wife's face. Mary Pat Christie smiled through the entire talk-off. Why? Because a local NBC News camera was facing her, capturing the scene. Two days later, I don't see any trace of the video online. Is that a statement on how ordinary the confrontation was? Possibly. I think it's also a reflection of the front-runner coverage boosting Christie as the race ends, as the polls showing him winning (with up to 37 percent of voters not even knowing who is opponent is)...
While I don't think Christie is a likely candidate, I do think Rand Paul is going to jump in with both feet. Unfortunately, he seems to have a strange relationship with the truth, and even in retaliating, he plagarizes without attribution. The story is pretty well known -- The Maddow show busted him for plagaizing Wikipedia in a number of speeches, specifically the entries on Gattica (really?) and Stand and Deliver. While Paul and his apologists have made this seem like some linguistic trick on the part of "haters" the speeches used the language word for word. He mentioned the movies, which makes sense because otherwise his comments would have no context. But he didn't mention the fact that his text was from Wikipedia. Anyone who has written a term paper, and Paul states that he has written professional articles for scientific journals so he's got the merit badge in references, knows that if you use text verbatim except very incidentally, you need to give credit. He didn't. He now says he'll do better but he didn't do anything wrong. Well, no. If I were grading the text of his speeches, and the text of his book which lifted some pieces of a Heritage Foundation Tome, or his op-eds, he might not get an F but no higher than a C, assuming that he could convince me it was all inadvertent. However, let's just say, ok, technical foul, Joe Biden made the same sort of inadvertent mistake and 20 years later he gets to be Vice President. Since being a board certified opthamologist from a board of which he was the only member was his primary qualification to be Senator, I suspect that Dr. Paul can use some more seasoning, so in 20 years he can run Vice President and this will all be forgotten. However, that might be too late.
Paul has plagiarized a response to those who accuse him of plagiarism from a retiring Democratic politician who lost it on NBC News and MSNBC for no good reason except excessive painkillers' or some other form of dementia. Dr Paul raised the issue in response to a discussion with George Stepanaopolous saying in part:
MILLER: If you‘re going to ask a question...
MATTHEWS: Well, it‘s a tough question. It takes a few words.
MILLER: Get out of my face.
MILLER: If you are going to ask me a question, step back and let me answer.
MATTHEWS: Senator, please.
MILLER: You know, I wish we...
MILLER: I wish we lived in the day where you could challenge a person to a duel.
Don‘t ask me—don‘t pull that...
MATTHEWS: Can you can come over? I need you, Senator. Please come over.
MILLER: Wait a minute. Don‘t pull that kind of stuff on me, like you did that young lady when you had her there, browbeating her to death. I am not her. I am not her...
So, while Citizen Paul has not as yet challenged Rachel Maddow to a duel, it could still happen. However, given than Dr. Maddow was a Rhodes Scholar and multi-letter woman at Stanford I'd probably pass on the debate unless he's planning on it being on Jeopardy with the topics of Ayn Rand , Duke Fraternities and Sororities, Opthamologists I have known, Wit and Wisdom of Ron Paul and Obamacare.
But, I'd still put my money on Maddow. His staff would screw up his Cliff Notes.