NYT Puzzler: Gov. Christie Not Really Bipartisan Because...A Dem Called Him a Bully?
Does the New York Times fear a Chris Christie presidential run?
On Thursday reporters Michael Shear (pictured above) and Richard Perez-Pena issued the New Jersey governor a pre-emptive reality check in response to his speech at the Reagan Presidential Library: “Not All Buy Christie’s Assertions of Bipartisanship – New Jersey Governor’s Critics Say Acrimonious Dealings Accompany Accomplishments.” But the Times provided a lopsided portrait, either by leaving out the offensive things Christie’s opponents have said about him, or actually quoting Democrats insulting Christie as if that somehow proves Christie is offensive.
If he runs for president, Chris Christie might highlight the themes he mentioned on Tuesday night in his speech at the Reagan Presidential Library, promising a new era of bipartisanship and compromise like the one he largely takes credit for achieving as governor of New Jersey.
“Our bipartisan accomplishments in New Jersey have helped to set a tone that has taken hold across many other states,” Mr. Christie told a rapt audience in Simi Valley, Calif. “This is the only effective way to lead in America during these times.”
Except that is not exactly how everyone sees it.
Mr. Christie once said to reporters, of a state senator in her 70s who had criticized him, “Can you guys please take the bat out on her for once?” When another Democratic legislator seemed to question Mr. Christie’s parenting, he said “she should really be embarrassed at what a jerk she is.”
After a tough budget battle in June, Stephen M. Sweeney, the Senate president and one of Mr. Christie’s allies in the Legislature, called him “a bully and a punk,” “mean-spirited,” “spoiled,” “vindictive” and “a cruel man,” adding, “I wanted to punch him in his head.”
Not exactly the stuff of happy-go-lucky bipartisanship and easygoing compromise.
How do Sweeney’s playground insults translate into proof of Christie’s nastiness, as opposed to the immaturity of Democrat Sweeney himself?
Back in April, co-author Pena treated as a serious breach of decorum the relatively mild "bat" metaphor Christie used in front of reporters. The story’s text box: “The governor uses violent imagery while talking to reporters about a state senator.”
Thursday's Times's story ignored how Christie’s opponents have said worse about him. In April 2010 local TV station WPIX reported on a memo released by a New Jersey teachers union that closed with a mock prayer: "Dear Lord...this year you have taken away my favorite actor, Patrick Swayze, my favorite actress, Farrah Fawcett, my favorite singer, Michael Jackson, and my favorite salesman Billy Mays....I just wanted to let you know that Chris Christie is my favorite governor."
Shear and Perez-Pena mentioned Christie's scuffles with unions without quoting anything said by the unions against Christie.
Some of the most important pieces of legislation of his tenure have gotten through the Democratic Legislature with mostly Republican support, while most Democrats voted against them. And the unions, in particular, have bristled at the governor’s decision to single them out in his efforts to deal with the state’s finances.
In town halls across New Jersey, Mr. Christie has been assailed by teachers who have accused him of attacking their profession and pushing through anti-union legislation by bullying Democratic legislators. In most of the town halls, Mr. Christie gave as good as he got.
The Times made a strange concluding choice to challenge Christie: AFL-CIO president Richard Trumka, who exploited the tenth anniversary of 9-11 with an offensive online essay, blaming Rush Limbaugh, Glenn Beck, Karl Rove, the Koch brothers, etc. for pushing “hate” in the wake of the tragedy.
Richard L. Trumka, the president of the A.F.L.-C.I.O. in Washington, said: “There’s a major difference between talking about compromise and bipartisanship in a rhetorical speech and actually practicing it. Any worker in New Jersey who’s experienced Chris Christie’s idea of compromise, which panders to corporate interests and leaves working families behind, will tell you that it’s not working for them.”