Published: Tuesday, December 07, 2010, 6:00 AM Updated: Tuesday, December 07, 2010, 7:46 AM
Star-Ledger Editorial Board
Aristide Economopoulos/The Star-Ledger Keith Chaudruc, left, of Madison, tries to get a word in (but he can't) as Gov. Chris Christie berates him at a town hall meeting in Parsippany on Friday.
Two years ago, when Chris Christie announced he was running for governor, he dismissed questions about his days as the Godzilla freeholder — when he breathed fire on almost every issue, insulted Morris County colleagues and needlessly stomped on countless toes. Tossed out after one term, Christie assured us he had learned his lesson. He was a different man.
“Who wouldn’t be?” he said. “If you’re not a different person 12 years later than when I began my last political campaign, you’ve got problems.” He added: “I’m more mature.”
Nearly a year after he was elected, we wonder: Where’s the maturity?
The latest display of contempt for anyone who disagrees with him was on display at a town hall meeting Friday in Parsippany.
Keith Chaudruc, of Madison, asked the governor how he could sign off on a tax cut for the rich while lunch-pail stiffs were hit with painful increases like transit fare hikes. After some give and take, Christie invited Chaudruc to the stage for “a conversation.”
Chaudruc, reluctant to be part of another Christie YouTube moment, was escorted to the stage by a state trooper. Chaudruc never got another word in. Twice Chaudruc’s size, Christie crowded his personal space, raised his voice and lectured him on economics with a wagging finger. Each time Chaudruc tried to make a point, Christie cut him off.
When Christie finished, Chaudruc motioned for the microphone. This was, after all, a “conversation.” Christie shooed him away and a trooper herded Chaudruc off stage.
The clip appears on YouTube under the title “Christie rips apart rude questioner,” a headline written, no doubt, by a Christie disciple.
By bullying a citizen, hogging the microphone and condescendingly dismissing him, Christie was the rude one. But it’s nothing new.
Christie has turned state politics into one never-ending yo’ mama joke. It doesn’t matter who you are — school superintendent, teacher, student, U.S. senator, state Assembly leader, former education commissioner or just a regular guy trying to have a conversation: If you disagree with him, Christie will try to humiliate you publicly.
Some find Christie entertaining, but his combativeness is counterproductive and breeds the kind of hate speech that plaques the nation.