Via Sonny Bunch, this is so achingly stupid and disingenuous that I feel like it’s an insult to the reader’s intelligence to explain why. But it’s a slow news day — that’s why HuffPo is running it, after all — so let me try. Have you ever heard someone use the word “boy” as an exclamation, to add emphasis? If you haven’t, it means one of two things. Either you’re under the age of, say, five years old or you didn’t read this post from this morning, when I used the word that way myself. Christie used it that way too when a heckler at a recent town hall shouted that New Jersey needs to fix its public schools. Fixing public schools is what Christie’s all about; that’s why he battles the teachers’ union and that’s why he helped promote “Waiting for Superman.” Boy oh boy oh boy, does he want to fix those public schools. Just one hitch: The heckler at the town hall was black. So when Christie said “boy,” Democrats pounced. Watch below at 1:55. Which explanation is more likely, do you suppose? That a modern politician would insult a black constituent by calling him “boy,” in full view of rolling cameras and a crowded church no less? Or that he meant it as an exclamation? That 74 percent approval rating isn’t going to deflate without some help, you know.
But wait. We’re not done.
At the same event, Christie referred to Democratic Speaker Sheila Oliver only by her race and gender, prompting the pastor at the church to demand an apology.
“I was and am saddened by the governor’s blatant attack [on the speaker],” said Kenneth Clayton, pastor of St. Luke Baptist Church in Paterson, according to the Associated Press. “The words that the governor chose to use in speaking of Oliver, while not even respecting her enough to call her by name, defy his earlier assertion that political leaders, himself included, need to learn to respect all views and work together.”
That’s weird. Why would Christie make an issue of the Speaker’s race and sex? Let’s see if we can find a fuller transcript:
Christie told the town hall audience he strongly supports a bill creating a trial voucher program for students to attend private and parochial schools, but “we have an African-American female speaker of the Assembly … who refuses to let people vote on this bill.”
Christie also said: “Why is it taking a Republican governor from the suburbs to stand up and fight the teachers union and the urban political machine to say, ‘Hey, I want to give your children a shot?’ Let me tell you what that is, that’s the worst kind of discrimination from my perspective.”
The town hall was being held at a black Baptist church. He was speaking to a mixed-race audience. His office prefers to use terms like “children in urban centers” but Christie’s point, very clearly, was that the allegedly racist Republicans are trying to create better educational opportunities for black students in particular by building a voucher program. And, irony of ironies, it’s an “African-American female speaker” who’s blocking their path. If Democrats don’t like the idea of a politician suggesting, however innocently, that one’s race should influence one’s policy preferences, that’s a new one on me: They’ve always been big, big fans of that logic in the past. But enough of this nonsense. Read this for a taste of pushback from Christie’s camp.
Incidentally, a Reuters poll today shows that Christie leads both Biden and Cuomo in hypothetical 2016 match-ups. (Against Hillary … not so much.) No wonder the smears are starting early.
Watch Christie Discusses Education Issues at Paterson Town Hall on PBS. See more from NJToday.