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Thursday, January 09, 2014

Christie’s problem: he actually is a bully. It’s his political brand

Ezra Klein - Chris Christie's problem is that he's really, truly a bully
Not to belabor the point I’ve been belaboring, but — despite his statement to the contrary — Chris Christie is a bully. Not only is he a bully, but he’s a bully who had previously bragged about being a bully by posting videos to Youtube of him being a dick to people.
Ezra Klein: Christie inhabits a rare space in American politics: He’s a bully. He’s followed around by an aide with a camcorder watching for moments in which Christie, mustering the might and prestige of his office, annihilates some citizen who dares question him.

Almost everywhere Christie goes, he is filmed by an aide whose job is to capture these “moments,” as the governor’s staff has come to call them. When one occurs, Christie’s press shop splices the video and uploads it to YouTube; from there, conservatives throughout the country share Christie clips the way tween girls circulate Justin Bieber videos. “The YouTube stuff is golden,” says Rich Lowry, the editor of National Review. “I can’t tell you how many people forward them to me.” One video on Christie’s YouTube channel — a drubbing he delivered to another aggrieved public-school teacher at a town hall in September — has racked up over 750,000 views.

Now in Moorestown, Christie was hoping to create another such moment. After some introductory remarks, he opened the floor to questions. “For those of you who have seen some of my appearances on YouTube,” he cautioned, peeling off his suit jacket as he spoke, “this is when it normally happens.”
It’s not an accident that Christie emerged in a period when the Republican Party is out of power. His videos make them feel powerful at a moment when they’re weak.
And of course, there’s my long-standing hypothesis that many conservatives are conservatives because they think it gives them license to be assholes. If you’re of a dickish nature, what better party to join than the one that lets you bully gays, feminists, unwed mothers, minority voters, non-Christians (Muslims especially), environmentalists, scientists, and people who react badly to having guns jammed in their faces? Chris Christie is a bully because the Republican base is made up of bullies. Bullies pass his videos around like kids with baseball cards. It’s his brand.

So what does Christie have going for him now that he’s ditched his “hero to assholes everywhere” brand? Not a lot, really. A competent handling of natural disaster and that’s about it. I’m not sure Christie knows how to do politics without belittling reporters and shaking his finger in teachers’ faces. He’s basically just a loudmouth with a tough guy act — only now without the act.

He may very well be done as a national figure. At least, I hope so. His brand of politics has no place in a democracy.

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