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New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie Turns Pugilistic

February 2, 2014

When was the last time you read a news story that summed up the actions of a politician as pugilistic?  That, I feel, in and of itself makes for a blog post.

I came back from dinner at a friend’s house late last evening and turned on the computer to catch up on the headlines.  Sitting in my email box was the following.

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R), after a low-key initial response to Friday’s explosive allegations about his bridge-closing involvement, mounted a pugilistic defense late Saturday afternoon, attacking The New York Times and a former political ally in an email to friends and allies obtained by POLITICO.

It says a great deal about the combat style of Christie that those covering him would use the word pugilistic.  But given how low the governor is now stepping in order to defend himself it is not a wrong word to employ.

The blowback is in regards to David Wildstein, a former high-ranking official at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, who is now portrayed as a loose cannon by Christie.  Wildstein accused the governor of lying about how much he knew about the lane closings at the George Washington Bridge, a scandal that has become the biggest political hurdle the governor has ever faced.

Consider that the memo released by the Christie team to defame Wildstein included items such as saying that “as a 16-year-old kid,” Wildstein had sued over a school board election; that he had been “publicly accused by his high school social studies teacher of deceptive behavior”; that he had a controversial tenure as mayor of Livingston, N.J.; that he had been an anonymous blogger; and that he “had a strange habit of registering Web addresses for other people’s names without telling them.”

This type of ‘defense’ makes Christie look small, and that is a hard thing to achieve.   This memo from Christie was produced more in anger than a thoughtful rebuttal aimed as minimizing the damage that Friday’s news produced for Christie.

But the reporters got it right.

Pugilistic was the right term to have used in the news story.


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