Chris Christie’s Race to the Bottom

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Eric Thayer / Reuters

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and his wife Mary Pat talk during a sound check on the second day of the 2012 Republican National Convention in Tampa, Fla., Aug. 28, 2012.

In honor of his keynote speech Tuesday night, I thought I’d recount a revealing story about New Jersey Governor Chris Christie from my new book, The New New Deal: The Hidden Story of Change in the Obama Era. If you think of Christie as a disingenuous blowhard who’s more interested in picking political fights than improving public policy, well, this tale probably won’t change your opinion.

The story involves President Obama’s Race to the Top education initiative, which has been hailed by Republicans like Jeb Bush and Mitch Daniels as a groundbreaking advance for public schools. It encourages states to promote charter schools, use student test scores to evaluate teachers, and adopt other reforms that traditionally Democratic unions had always opposed. Christie’s education commissioner, a well-known conservative reformer named Bret Schundler, avidly pursued a Race to the Top grant for New Jersey. “I was extremely excited,” Schundler said later. “It was an opportunity for tremendous bipartisan cooperation.”

In the summer of 2010, when the Obama Administration announced some winners of Race to the Top grants, New Jersey barely missed the cut, in part because its application was docked a few points for incorrect budget information. In typically overstated fashion, Christie held a news conference to blast the Administration for playing politics. He claimed his education aides had tried to submit the correct information during a meeting with the Education Department in Washington, but federal reviewers had refused to accept it. “That’s the stuff that drives people nuts about government,” Christie told the press.

In fact, the budget error was not the main problem with New Jersey’s application. The state lost many more points because it lacked buy-in from its teachers unions, which was entirely Christie’s fault. Schundler had worked out a deal with the unions to support New Jersey’s reform plans, winning concessions that would have made it easier to reward good teachers and fire bad ones. But at the last minute Christie scuttled the deal, complaining that it didn’t go far enough.

Still, Christie’s allegations about the Education Department interview were potentially explosive. They were also bogus. A videotape of the meeting proved that Christie’s aides never tried to correct their error. Christie, forced to find a new scapegoat, fired Schundler. “Thank God we taped it,” Education Secretary Arne Duncan told me. “When you play it straight, things usually work out in the end.”

And sometimes when you don’t play it straight, you get to give a keynote address.

76 comments
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Ricky Niell
Ricky Niell

They hate Obama so much, they will shoot themselves in the foot.  Perry is just as bad or worse. Perry and Christie's days are numbered anyway as they are both incompetent.

mjc1357
mjc1357

By 2016, Christie will top the scales at around 450 lbs. He's a few cheeseburgers away from a very large coffin!

Garzhad
Garzhad

I cant wait to vote this worthless sack of shit out.

Devendra Makkar
Devendra Makkar

GOV. CHRISTIE OF NEW JERSEY HATES MINORITIES  

http://blogs.siliconindia.com/... THE COMPLETE STORY

The absentee Governor Christie’s administration has drawn down $22 million of $300 million allocated  to help home owners in distress under the Federal programme since 2010 according to Huffington Post.  On top of that Christie administration has spent less than $1 million to provide assistance to 171 borrowers under Home Affordable Modification Program. .  Only Christie can explain where he spent the rest of $21 mil and why he has not tried to use the maximum of $300 mil allotted to the state to help home owners in distress? Maybe he has been very busy in day time circus called stage managed Town Hall Meetings, raising funds for Presidential hopeful Romney and auditioning for Vice Presidential job. His auditioning took him to Israel for one week to get the nod of Israeli handlers of Romney. Moreover Christie does not feel obligated that he has to help the home owners in distress because majority of them belong to minority communities.Christie refused to wear a Suit made as per the size of Romney while delivering Keynote address at Republican National Convention. Can create of “One Size Fits All” anti-minority anti-bullying Law for 8yrs old to 28yrs old student.  Can he explain why he had objections to his suit made to the size of Presidential Candidate Mitt Romney?

kayo56
kayo56

I'd like to mention something that people may not know about the governor, unless they are from New Jersey.

Besides the above, he has been publicly denigrating teachers for some time now.  Any student who cares to, can hear him in public forums making comments that lower student confidence in the people upon whom they depend to teach them.

He gave a talk at a public school in Trenton, which is the state capital, and a somewhat depressed urban area.  He was reported to have told the students that the reason they don't have supplies was because their teachers are greedy.

There are many points with which I disagree with the governor, and I consider quite a few of his actions and remarks unacceptable.  This however, I feel is unconscionable.  Teachers have a hard enough time commanding student's respect; they don't need someone starting them off with a handicap, especially not when that someone is governor of the state.   Children haven't yet learned to tread warily, when it comes to believing the words of a politician with a personal agenda.

He really isn't in much position to judge of what should be expected of teachers in a public school.  His own daughters attended a private Catholic school with a tuition in the area of about $15K a year per student.  For that money, many people would expect that in addition to educating their children, the teachers would be washing their cars and doing their laundry.

As for his assertion that the teachers in New Jersey are overpaid, he's comparing salary scales, not cost of living.  When you factor in the cost of living in New Jersey, as opposed to, say, a middle class suburb in Texas, the New Jersey salaries rank somewhere around 37.

politathiest
politathiest

anybody notice at the convention last night how glowing off a tribute Christie and some others gave to Bill Clinton ? "Clinton fixed welfare ", " Clinton worked with the Republicans", "Clinton wasn't as radical as Obama ". why I expected Clinton walk out on the stage and announce he was switching parties switching parties given all that niceties. but maybe we should recap .

the economy was still struggling to the point Clinton reelection was worried and his polls weren't that great running around 50 percent too

Clinton also got no support from the Republicans for his economic plan and outlook either . I guess nobody remembers the government shutdown based on the 2 parties being so far apart .

hillarycare which they tried to pass was much more radical than Obama care . its also good to note that it was in response to Hillary care that the Republicans came up with what was exactly obamacare now . Funny, huh.

Al Gore was much more committed to environmental regulation than Obama has shown

but now it sounds like Clinton could have been Reagan's running mate . funny how much difference a decade makes . .....waiit for it.......... Haaaa haaaa haaaaaa haaa.......... trying to win over those Clinton Republicans .........Baaa haaa haaa.

Palladia
Palladia

"And sometimes when you don't play it straight, you get to give a keynote address."

But to whom?  To a group which also subscribes to the "alternative reality" concept.

It's sort of a "folie a many."

Nwvotes
Nwvotes

Who had the better speech at the Republican National Convention? Ann Romney or Chris Christie Vote at Nationwidevotes.com

Pnnto
Pnnto

Watching Christie.  He's really not very good a speaker. At least is he is trying to reach beyond the base.

Bluster, insult, brag, and wide shots do not become him.

vstillwell
vstillwell

I guess it gets old beating up poor adults, so they start hammering kids. Classy!

Pnnto
Pnnto

So back to Christie--why do I have the feeling that he'll be this year's version of Pat Buchanan's infamous RNC speech?

While the media largely loves his high school bullying style* I'm not sure the rest of the country will. 

*I laugh as I think back to JK saying he wished Governor Cuomo was more like Governor Christie.  

chris87654
chris87654

It's going to be more of the same - bashing Obama when Republican details for solution are missing, or the numbers don't add up at all - Christie is another "Palin in Pants" - I got tired of it a long time ago.

Pnnto
Pnnto

 Christie is another "Palin in Pants"

You know, I'm not so sure. He has more on the ball than Sarah! but his nasty streak doesn't have her "softening" way. 

But like the former half term Governor he doesn't have a dimmer switch. It's 100% all the time. If the Ron Paul people really wanted to be heard they would heckle him just once to watch him explode and thus Willard's chance. 

 

But they won't.

As for "I got tired of it a long time ago" I couldn't agree more. His act is old.

Pnnto
Pnnto

A bit rich coming from Daniels but I take, and agree, with your point about the need to speak of solutions.

That, of course, is Willard's Achille's Heal. He refuses (or is unable) to make a specific case for himself. 

chris87654
chris87654

I agree - Christie's MUCH smarter than Sarah - I was saying I'm tired of the criticism (I already know what needs fixing...).  I like hearing Mitch Daniels - he said it does no good to constantly harp about others' mistakes, but to spend time talking about (viable) solutions - not many like this in GOP (none during this election cycle, though I didn't hear much from Huntsman).

Isaiah Horbert
Isaiah Horbert

This article seems a little second class. Very short and not very informative

ERenger
ERenger

Isaiah, can you and Jeanne Rog above please discuss and come to a consensus on this?

Jeanne Rog
Jeanne Rog

Great article.  Very enlightening

Little_2Note
Little_2Note

large people like this man often are unable to maintain a proper level of hygene, and consequently carry a strong body odor, especially from the rectal area. It mskes it difficult for others, who find themselves pretending not to notice and secretly mouth breathing to avoid sensing the odors. I feel sorry for Mary Pat, for her suffering. Good thing she is Catholic.

ERenger
ERenger

It's not a problem for Christie, because most of the GOP are mouth-breathers anyway. 

Frank Boydston
Frank Boydston

i know it's off topic but i used to be obese, not morbidly, dangerously obese like CC, and i just want to know how would they make bacon, slam ham, ride the pork sword, etc.

i mean you'd have to be very creative and careful or have diesel powered scissors lift jacks on hand. it would make a good homework assignment for a mechanical engineering class. your thoughts?

\

ERenger
ERenger

If an elephant seal can mate, so can Christie. Don't spend too much time thinking about it. 

Palladia
Palladia

No.  it's not very delightful to imagine.  I'd much rather not.

Hallada
Hallada

Funny how governors who so far are failing their own states (Christie, Walker,..) are labeled "heros" and picked to speak at the Republican convention.

chris87654
chris87654

True.  BTW, where is Mitch Daniels?  Did he decline.  His speech at CPAC was a breath of fresh air.   He probably wouldn't gripe enough about Obama to feed this flock - they tend to get bored listening to solutions and numbers.