Christie’s Dangerous ‘Demagogic Pugnacity’
Fred Mazelis in “New Jersey governor faces deepening crisis over bridge scandal” writes:
The latest scandal has also called attention to past charges of bullying on the part of Christie. As the New York Times mentioned in a recent story, a Rutgers professor lost state financing after he voted against the Republicans’ favored redistricting map on a state commission; a Republican state senator’s candidate for a judgeship went nowhere after he voted against a plan backed by Christie to change the state’s medical education system; and a former governor lost his police security at public events because Christie perceived he had not been quick enough in backing some appointments.
And there were the numerous incidents caught on video of the governor dressing down or humiliating questioners or critics at news conferences, town hall meetings and other public events.
Mazelis refers to Christie’s “political gangsterism” and “demagogic pugnacity” as ominously behind his popular persona.
Katha Pollitt calls out the dark side of Christie in “Christie: A Bully’s Bully -- Oh, how we love those Republican straight-shooters.” She asserts that Christie all along has been “mean, vindictive and hostile”, reminding of how Christie has participated in “petty retaliations” and intimidations. However, up until now the media has been dazzled by a seemingly down-to-earth, bluntly honest Mr. Christie. Media Matters has quoted Joe Scarborough as labeling him “different, fresh”, GQ calling him a “happy warrior”, Michael Scherer declaring him “bipartisan” and “a workhorse with a temper and a tongue, the guy who loves his mother and gets it done”, Mark Halperin gushing that Christie is “magical”. Pollitt maintains Christie has filled the place that had been occupied by “straight-shooting” Republican “maverick” John McCain.
But there’s more to Christie’s attraction. Like McCain, Christie is a man’s man. As he put it himself, “I am not a focus group–tested, blow-dried candidate—or governor.” So what if he is a crude rageaholic? At least he doesn’t eat pizza with a knife and fork like that liberal wuss Bill de Blasio (unbelievably, de Blasio’s decision to use silverware instead of shoving the whole slice in his mouth and letting tomato sauce drip all over his shirt like a real New Yorker was the other big story in the Tri-State Area while the Christie scandal was breaking).
... people are drawn to swagger and aggression. Bullies are popular.
One of the strongest denunciations of the realpolitik Chris Christie has been written by Chris Hedges in “The Trouble With Chris Christie." Hedges calls Christie a “profane union-buster” who is the “perfect Trojan horse for unfettered corporate power." Hedges goes on:
Christie is the caricature of a Third World despot. He has a vicious temper, a propensity to bully and belittle those weaker than himself, an insatiable thirst for revenge against real or perceived enemies, and little respect for the law and, as recent events have made clear, for the truth. He is gripped by a bottomless hedonism that includes a demand for private jets, huge entourages, exclusive hotels and lavish meals. Wall Street and the security and surveillance apparatus want a real son of a bitch in power, someone with the moral compass of Al Capone, in order to ruthlessly silence and crush those of us who are working to overthrow the corporate state.
Christie is pitched to the public, as was George W. Bush, as a regular guy, someone who speaks bluntly and candidly, someone you would want to have a beer with. But this is public relations crap. He is and has long been a hatchet man for corporate firms and big banks.
The quality of most of the reporting on Christie has been pathetic. The numerous portraits of the “regular-guy” governor are rewritten versions of the fatuous press releases provided by the governor’s public relations team. New Jersey desperately needs a version of the late columnist Mike Royko, whose unauthorized biography of Chicago Mayor Richard J. Daley, “Boss,” laid bare the Mafia-like inner workings of the Daley political juggernaut.
The visceral need by Christie to ridicule and threaten anyone who does not bow before him, his dark lust for revenge, his greed, gluttony and hedonism, his need to surround himself with large, fawning entourages and his obsequiousness to corporate power are characteristics our corporate titans embrace and understand. They see in Christie versions of themselves. They know he will enthusiastically do their dirty work. They trust him to be a real bastard. If Christie and the billionaires behind him take the presidency and begin to manipulate government agencies and pull the levers of our Stasi-like security and surveillance apparatus, any pretense of democracy will be gone.
Hedges explains that Christie has at his back ruthless and corrupt sponsors such as Democratic boss George Norcoss III along with the notorious Koch brothers and numerous hedge fund managers and corporate executives. In 2010 the US Department of Justice investigated Christie’s overspending on travel and exclusive hotels (such as the Four Seasons) in his federal job as a U.S. attorney. Christie worked as a lobbyist for the Securities Industry Association with Bernie Madoff as one of its senior officials. Christie steered government contracts to political cronies such as John Ashcroft, which was another cause for investigation
Hedges points out that there are over 600 YouTubes, taken by Christie’s ever-accompanying videographer, of his public humiliations of any citizens or journalists daring to challenge him. His favorite targets have been public school teachers. Sadly, these have proven to be successful public relations tools for the governor.
If Christie implodes politically, Wall Street will no doubt find another candidate to be its lackey. The system of corporate power, not the individual at the helm, is fundamentally the problem for democracy. But this does not mean we should not fear the excesses that surely would occur under a Christie presidency. Christie and those who want him to occupy the Oval Office have little regard for the impediments of law and do not know the meaning of the word “restraint.”
If Chris Christie survives this latest political scandal, we seem to have profound reason to worry.
[cross-posted on open salon]