Americans Will Not Be Amused by Chris Christie’s Bullying If He Runs for President

 

Over the weekend, a picture of New Jersy Gov. Chris Christie dressing down a teacher who asked him about school budgets went semi-viral. I was a little surprised, because I thought Christie had stopped doing this kind of thing as his national ambitions became more obvious. Apparently not. But Dave Weigel, who snapped the pics, provides a tidbit of interesting background:

Mary Pat Christie smiled through the entire talk-off. Why? Because a local NBC News camera was facing at 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 frontrunner 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) are taken as prima facie evidence that he’s running a faultless campaign. The day after this little contretemps, one of north Jersey’s major papers ran an analysis of how the governor’s tone had moderated so much recently.

Back in early 2012, when the chatter about Christie’s presidential chops first started, I remember thinking that I just didn’t believe it. Obviously Christie has some ideological baggage, but that wasn’t my big reason for skepticism. It was his famous bullying of ordinary citizens. Sure, it went over great in New Jersey, and even among the national media it seemed like a bit of fresh air: a politician willing to say what he really meant even if it wasn’t entirely PC.

But governor of New Jersey is one thing. President of the United States is another. If this had been 2016 and Christie had pulled Saturday’s stunt during a primary run, that NBC footage would be blanketing cable news on a 24/7 loop. If he did it a second time, his presidential aspirations would be over. Something that seems sort of cute when it’s just Jersey—and when it’s something you vaguely hear about third hand—would sink you if you were running for president. I guarantee you that the American public will very quickly become repelled at the sight of a Jersey loudmouth bullying ordinary citizens who have the temerity to disagree with him.

So the question is, can Christie control himself? Or will he lose his temper one too many times during a grueling, sleepless primary campaign? Since “one too many times” is quite possibly “once,” my money says he doesn’t stand much of a chance.

 

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WHO DOESN’T LOVE A POSITIVE STORY—OR TWO?

“Great journalism really does make a difference in this world: it can even save kids.”

That’s what a civil rights lawyer wrote to Julia Lurie, the day after her major investigation into a psychiatric hospital chain that uses foster children as “cash cows” published, letting her know he was using her findings that same day in a hearing to keep a child out of one of the facilities we investigated.

That’s awesome. As is the fact that Julia, who spent a full year reporting this challenging story, promptly heard from a Senate committee that will use her work in their own investigation of Universal Health Services. There’s no doubt her revelations will continue to have a big impact in the months and years to come.

Like another story about Mother Jones’ real-world impact.

This one, a multiyear investigation, published in 2021, exposed conditions in sugar work camps in the Dominican Republic owned by Central Romana—the conglomerate behind brands like C&H and Domino, whose product ends up in our Hershey bars and other sweets. A year ago, the Biden administration banned sugar imports from Central Romana. And just recently, we learned of a previously undisclosed investigation from the Department of Homeland Security, looking into working conditions at Central Romana. How big of a deal is this?

“This could be the first time a corporation would be held criminally liable for forced labor in their own supply chains,” according to a retired special agent we talked to.

Wow.

And it is only because Mother Jones is funded primarily by donations from readers that we can mount ambitious, yearlong—or more—investigations like these two stories that are making waves.

About that: It’s unfathomably hard in the news business right now, and we came up about $28,000 short during our recent fall fundraising campaign. We simply have to make that up soon to avoid falling further behind than can be made up for, or needing to somehow trim $1 million from our budget, like happened last year.

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