To cleanse the palate. Guy already posted it in the Greenroom but I want to bring it down to the front page, partly because it’s funny and partly because it shows that this guy can resist his bull-in-a-china-shop pugnacious impulses when it’s in his political interest to do so. He had a choice here — repay Barbara Buono’s pettiness with pettiness or underscore her pettiness by drawing a high-toned contrast. The result reminds me of what Stephen Potter called “plonking,” even though it’s not a textbook example. Textbook plonking involves using one’s wits to disarm a superior adversary. Christie’s adversary is … not superior:

Christie leads Buono 58 to 25 percent, meaning the governor is further ahead of the state senator than he was in August. When FDU conducted a poll then, Christie enjoyed a 50-26 lead. About 90 percent of Republicans said they’ll vote for Christie, but only 44 percent of Democrats are in Buono’s corner, the poll said.

About 44 percent of Democrats support Christie, who will tangle with Buono in the first of their two scheduled debates tonight.

Among independents polled, 53 percent said they’d vote for Christie.

44/44 — among Jersey Democrats. Watching this again, I think both of them were trying to prove something with what they said, even though it redounded to Christie’s advantage. Buono, battling the stereotype that a woman might not be “tough enough,” probably wanted to show that she could throw punches as well as Governor Tough Guy could. Christie, aware that he often comes off as abrasive, knew that getting personally nasty with a woman opponent might make him come off as a bully. (Hillary, Christie’s likely 2016 opponent if he ends up as nominee, famously accused Rick Lazio of trying to bully her when he crossed the stage to hand her a copy of his tax plan at one of their New York Senate debates in 2000.) So she deployed the zinger and he smothered her in hugs. Game over.