While out on the road campaigning Tuesday, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie Dismissed reporters’ questions about a potential lawsuit regarding Christie’s order to forcibly quarantine a nurse who had recently returned from West Africa. The nurse, Kaci Hickox, had been treating Ebola patients in Sierra Leone prior to her returning to the United States last week. Despite not showing any symptoms, other than a slightly elevated temperature after a single forehead thermometer reading, she was ordered to spend 21 days quarantined in an isolated tent at a New Jersey hospital. She has since been allowed to return to her home state of Maine to serve out the rest of her quarantine, which she is still fighting.
Prior to her release on Monday from New Jersey, Hickox retained a lawyer and threatened to sue the state and Christie over her forced confinement. Hickox has also stated that she will not adhere to Maine officials’ requests that she voluntarily isolate herself in her home for the remainder of the 21 days. This will likely set up a confrontation with state officials and law enforcement. If they make her quarantine involuntary, Hickox, and likely the ACLU, will file a lawsuit against the state of Maine.
As for Christie, he made sure to be himself on Tuesday, which is loud, brash, unsympathetic and boorish. Throughout this whole ordeal, Christie has remained defiant and bullish, claiming he knows more than health experts on proper procedures in treating and containing Ebola while insisting he and other governors who have pushed for mandatory quarantines of health workers and other exposed to Ebola will be proven right in the long wrong. At the same time, he has shown no real sense of gratitude for the doctors and nurses who are volunteering their time in West Africa to help contain and eradicate the disease where it currently is doing real damage.
Instead, Christie has spoken derisively of Hickox, treating her like a political opponent or reporter asking a question he doesn’t like. When cornered with criticism, Christie only knows one mode — full-on schoolyard bully. On Tuesday, he displayed that character flaw once again.
Below is video of his conversation with reporters, courtesy of NBC News:
As you can see in the video, when a reporter says that he’ll likely have to face this situation in court, referring to Hickox bringing on a lawsuit, Christie brushes it aside and dares her to sue.
“Whatever. Get in line. I’ve been sued lots of times before. Get in line. I’m happy to take it on.”
Christie also said she shouldn’t complain about her imprisonment because she was treated very well. See, after a certain point, she had a cell phone and got take-out food, so what the heck is she complaining about?
“She was inside the hospital in a climate-controlled area with access to her cellphone, access to the Internet and takeout food from the best restaurants in Newark. She was doing just fine.”
To be fair to Christie, this isn’t just confined to him or even Republicans. There has been this sort of attitude among the media and even some Democratic politicians to treat true heroes that are doing real work to fight a disease that is threatening an area half-way around the world as objects of fear and derision. The fear mongering around Ebola by the mainstream media and elected officials has gotten so bad that much of the public is getting swept up in the panic. This is all happening despite the fact that exactly one person has died in the US from Ebola and only one other person is currently confirmed to be infected.
Eventually, the overhyped mass hysteria has to subside. Hopefully, the treatment of Hickox and her reaction to it will fully shift public opinion and force the media and government to readdress how they are covering, discussing and dealing with this issue.
Justin Baragona is the Managing Editor at Politicus Sports as well as Senior Editor at PoliticusUSA. He was a political writer for 411Mania.com before joining PoliticusUSA. Politically, Justin considers himself a liberal but also a realist and pragmatist. Currently, Justin lives in St. Louis, MO and is married. Besides writing, he also runs his own business after spending a number of years in the corporate world. You can follow Justin on Twitter either with his personal handle (@justinbaragona) or the Sports site’s (@PoliticusSports).