First he came for the teachers, and we did not speak out because we’re not teachers.
Then he came for the “jerks” in the state Legislature, and we did not speak out because maybe they’re jerks.
Then he came for the “idiot” reporters, and we did not speak out because, really, who likes reporters?
Who’s next? If you disagree with him (about anything), present your case honestly and are not prone to the tyrant’s way of outburst-negotiation, it could be you.
The inevitable problem for Chris Christie’s pick-on-the-weak routine -- the one that's made him every bit the YouTube sensation as Sky Does Minecraft -- wasn’t only that people would ultimately tire of a bully politician. It’s that after six years of insults, easy targets are getting harder to find.
That former White House doctor who aired a concern about Christie’s heft? A “hack,” Christie scoffed. The Navy SEAL who disagreed with him on a higher-ed issue? “Idiot,” Christie said. An Ebola nurse? Throw her in a tent. Philadelphia Eagles fans, including many who live in South Jersey? The “worst in America.” (He might be on solid ground there.)
Now Christie is giving the schoolyard treatment to his biggest target yet: New Jersey, the state to which he owes his political rise -- and, not incidentally, the state he’s supposed to be governing for another two years.
Christie’s crack about staying in New Hampshire while Jersey Shore towns were holding post-blizzard Main Street regattas erased any lingering doubt about his contempt for the people he governs. “I don't know what you expect me to do," he told a questioner. "You want me to go down there with a mop?"
New Jerseyans could be forgiven for believing that, these days, their governor drops by just long enough to issue vetoes sure to please Republicans. South Carolina Republicans, that is.
Christie appears to view New Hampshire as an enchanting new mistress -- perky, adventurous, endlessly entertained by his stories -- while New Jersey is that old ball-and-chain whose looks are gone, whose jokes are stale and whose every request now sounds like whining.
“Chris! The washing machine is overflowing again!”
“What, do you want me to go down there with a mop?”
Even before his mop joke, Christie was barely hiding his annoyance at having to interrupt his extended visit to New Hampshire. As Dustin Racioppi wrote in the New Jersey newspaper The Record, Christie had something resembling a group-therapy session with his New Hampshire friends to work through his complicated emotions on returning home to govern:
“It looks like it’s going to be a pretty manageable storm, as storms go. ...But people get nervous about it, and when they get nervous about it, for reasons that I’m sure you cannot understand, they feel comforted by my presence…If I didn’t go back, they’d criticize me. When I do go back, they’ll criticize me for whatever I do when I’m there. And then when I leave to come back here, they’ll criticize me for leaving.”
Uh, governor? You know we can hear you, right?
Let’s be honest -- New Jersey is an easy target. Home to Snooki and the housewives, two professional football teams that deny their own geography, a mass-transit system that conks out when the sky gets partly cloudy, and gas pumps only professionals are permitted to use, New Jersey practically invites the abuse -- at least until the sitting governor joins in.
It’s probably not easy running for president while governing a state, though you don’t see John Kasich throwing shade at Ohio. For that matter, does anybody remember George W. Bush sparring with Texas in 2000, or Bill Clinton with Arkansas eight years earlier?
Should Christie win the presidency, his ample rewards will include getting to skip his final year as governor. Should he fall out of the Republican contest, however, he’ll have to go back home for 18 months or more of strained coexistence.
Hope the couch is comfortable.
(Read My Lips is a column dedicated to the proposition that men and women in a position of power, or the pursuit of it, will say or do things for which they will be sorry.)