Paul Waldman comments on Chris Christie’s latest outburst against a heckler:
My favorite part is how Christie keeps calling him “buddy” (reminded me of this). Now try to imagine what would happen if Barack Obama shouted “Sit down and shut up!” at a citizen. Or almost any other prominent politician, for that matter; commentators would immediately start questioning his mental health. But even though it’s been a while, shouting at people was how Chris Christie became a national figure talked about as a potential presidential candidate in the first place….If you standup at a town meeting and ask him an impertinent question about something like the state budget, he’ll shout you down (to the cheers of his supporters).
Here are a few ways to explain this pattern of behavior:
- This is a calculated way of showing that he’s a Tough Guy, which Christie knows Republicans love
- This is just who Christie is, and if nobody was around he’d still be picking fights with people
- Both 1 and 2
I lean toward number 3. It isn’t just play-acting, because Christie obviously gets sincerely pissed off when he’s challenged by people he thinks are beneath him. At the same time, he’s a smart enough politician to know that the cameras are on, and there’s some benefit to reinforcing the persona he has created.
I admit that this is mostly just curiosity on my part, since Christie’s act long ago got nearly as stale as Sarah Palin’s. But take a look at the video. Unlike Waldman, I vote for No. 1. To me, Christie appears entirely under control. I don’t doubt that there’s some real annoyance there (even a Vulcan would get annoyed at your average heckler), but overall Christie’s response gives the impression of being practically scripted. There are even a couple of instances where Christie seems like he forgot his lines and hurriedly tosses them in before heckler guy goes away and ruins his chance to get off his best zingers.
So vote in comments. Is it real anger, or has it just become a well-rehearsed schtick by now? In this case, at least, I vote for schtick.