New Jersey first-term Governor Chris Christie is the prototypical modern-day Republican. Despite what you may have read and heard from the P’ganda right-wing media, Christie is one of them. In spades.
The Christie garrulous, occasionally foul of mouth and carefully cultivated “everyman” image has been in the news a lot lately, both for his mirth and his girth. To be charitable, he’s significantly and dangerously overweight. I’m not a basher of people who have problems controlling their weight. At the extremes the tendency to gain weight can be genetic or is an addiction and there are facilities that treat people who either eat too much or too little. There is a clinical name for over-eaters. It’s called Binge Eating Disorder (BED). Christie may fall into that category and should seek help. If he doesn’t he may discover that political fame offers little immunity from the consequences of overworking the heart.
My favorite politician of all time, the late Chicago Mayor Harold Washington, probably died as a consequence of BED. Some 25 years ago he was talking with an aide at his desk, leaned over and died on the spot. An autopsy revealed a massive heart attack. He weighed 284 pounds at the time.
Former President Bill Clinton had quadruple bypass surgery in 2004 and two subsequent stents preventing what would have surely been a serious heart attack. He weighed 230 pounds the day of his bypass. Though he lost 60 of his 332 lbs. William Howard Taft died of a combination heart attack and high BP. Warren G. Harding was another big guy who succumbed to heart failure. He was still serving in office.
The New Jersey Governor, by his own admission eats too much. I don’t know to what degree, but Chris Christie definitely meets the definition of morbidly obese. I once saw pictures of Christie standing next to President Obama during the New Jersey Hurricane Sandy crisis and he looked to be almost twice the presidents’ size. Obama weighs 175 lbs give or take a few. But you know what? If Christie wants to lose the weight, he probably can, though there are rare cases where nothing seems to work. If he chooses not to lose the weight, that’s his business.
The governor’s weight and the fact of his intemperate exchanges with his heckler lessers at Town Hall meetings and with his Doctor betters is little more than a distraction from what must truly be examined in light of the fact he clearly wants to run for president in 2016. After his Hurricane Sandy praise for Obama, highlighted by endless bromance pics of the two together, the media started painting Christie as a rare Republican moderate unafraid to snuggle up to Democrats and do the right thing no matter what his GOP colleagues might think. ROTFLMAO!
Let’s take an objective look at this big fella. Wiki is a good place to start. The following facts were revealed through their well-sourced documentation of what I like to call the “real” Chris Christie. If the Wiki sources are to be believed (and they include highly respected mainstream media) Christie tap dances right on the edge of being a straight shooter. In legal circles there’s something called deferred prosecution agreements. These are federal monitoring positions and if you’re awarded one, you can buy the biggest house on the highest hill in your village. One such Christie no-bid multimillion dollar award went to a guy who investigated the governor’s brother, one of many traders in a Wall Street fraud case. The award’s recipient declined to prosecute the brother. A total of 14 other traders were indicted.
Christie later appointed the John Ashcroft Group to monitor a court settlement against a medical supplies company. Again, it was a no-bid contract in the neighborhood of $28-$52 million bucks. As one-time Attorney General, Ashcroft was Christie’s former boss when the governor was a U.S. Attorney. The Justice Department had to rewrite the appointment rules. Christie’s appointment as U.S. Attorney is another ethics matter. He was a top Bush fundraiser and his law partner forwarded his resume to Karl Rove who purportedly took care of the matter.
Christie also declined to criminally prosecute Bristol-Myers Squibb in a $311 million dollar fraud settlement, trading out a laughingly misnamed 5 million dollar “Ethics Chair” at his alma mater, Seton Hall University School of Law.
Now just because you’re ethically challenged doesn’t necessarily make you a right-winger. So let’s go to the governor’s less than scintillating Republican Convention Keynote address for further clues. These are exact quotes from the speech that was mostly braggadocio from his tenure as governor. “They said it was impossible to speak the truth to the teachers union. They were just too powerful. Real teacher tenure reform that demands accountability and ends the guarantee of a job for life regardless of performance would never happen.”
“For the first time in 100 years with bipartisan support, we did it.”
What Christie “did” was to force teachers and other pubic employees to pay 6-8% more for their pensions and health care benefits, effectively neutralizing any near-term raises. His 2010 budget cut $1.3 billion in state aid to schools. He also capped spending that pretty much assured limited pay increases for teachers well into the future. Three rouge union members from the private sector, most particularly Ironworker and Senate President Stephen Sweeney, persuaded enough Democratic colleagues (God knows what the sweeteners were), to vote against their public sector union brothers and sisters to ram through these worthless and hurtful bills. It goes without saying that Christie is a big Charter School and Voucher enthusiast.
Christie chopped off 10,000 teacher and school employee jobs in his first year alone. After a couple of years, he cut a total of 29,100 state and local government jobs; teachers, police and fire. He slashed $300 million off Special Ed programs and $5.4 million targeted for school breakfast and lunch for poor kids.
The guy who doesn’t want public sector workers making any money or working at all isn’t doing that badly for himself. As governor he’s paid $175,000, plus a $75,000 stipend and access to three fancy houses including one at the Jersey shore. He’s also a multimillionaire.
His public sector union-trashing speech then moved on to his adoration of Mitt Romney. He said Mitt will tell the hard truths about ending the debacle putting the worlds greatest health care system in the hands of federal bureaucrats and putting those bureaucrats between an American citizen and her doctor. Say Wha…? Not surprisingly, New Jersey is not participating in the state-based health care exchange program.
And this fellow grinning like a Cheshire Cat while looking deeply into the eyes of President Obama during the Hurricane damage tour, had this Keynote opinion of the man who would be his benefactor 2 months hence; “It’s time to end this era of absentee leadership in the Oval Office and send real leaders to the White House. There’s only one thing missing now. Leadership!”
A pinch of moderation notwithstanding, behind the jolly St. Chris facade, Christie is, at his core, a right-wing pettifogger who reflects the typical Republican Schadenfreude to those in need.