Friday, January 17, 2014

Christie, Never an Ex-Jock

Online big, braying heads from left and right, from pretending to be real news (Fox) to pretending to be pretend news (Stewart), one phrase in NJ Gov. Christ Christie's saga of a news conference got chuckles and guffaws all around. In his pretense that he knew nothing of the GW Bridge mess before it happened, he started with, "I was done with my workout yesterday morning and got a call from my communications director at about 8:50, 8:55, informing me of this story that had just broken on the Bergen Record website."
[If you're nitpicky or masochistic enough, you can get the transcript at the WaPo here. ]
The risibility trigger was the single word workout. The underlying justification is that because is visually is such a porker, he can't really work out, can't be anything like a jock.
I have no doubt that in his Christie brain, he remains as much an athlete as he was in school. He may weigh twice as much and jiggle like a twerker (except on top) when he moves, but his mind and body remember. He'll always be a jock to himself.
In fact, he reinforced that in answering a question in the conference about his HS chum David Wildstein, who seems to have done the bridge dirty deed. In trying to distance himself from his until-that-day great buddy, Christie said he didn't know him much in school, that they ran in different circles, that "You know, I was the class president and athlete."
Here again, he surely was the only person in the room who considered himself an athlete, but he thinks, says and acts it.
christorsoWe can get into how he might be strong and even quick, despite his rotundity. In his gymnasium (don't think of the origin of that word as running naked), he could well lift more and run longer at a faster pace on a treadmill than younger, scrawnier sorts. Fat does not preclude fit. 
The important aspect is that his being still is that of a jock. His pubescent identity remains and defines him. He has the poise and confidence of a competitor who has been successful an strutted his stuff in front of thousands, in his case as varsity catcher on the baseball team — not bad training for being a politician, confidence, arrogance, accomplishment, control of the situation. 
As a disclaimer, I was also an athlete in high school and into college (until a gruesome auto wreck cut that short in the sophomore year). I identify with the benefits of team sports and understand how you don't outgrow that anymore than you would if you were a cheerleader or even a U.S. Marine. 
To worry the cheer leader example a bit (and putting aside that G.W. Bush was one), cheerleaders keep key attributes they had or picked up in the process. The former cheerleaders I know are, well, cheery. They have that people-person persona. They push those around them to succeed...with them. In other words, they make good real-estate agents, PR or marketing types, and other best-food-forward optimists. They smile a lot and many have kept their version of blonde hair. They are still cheerleaders at 40, 50 and beyond.
We all supposed are who our parents were, what we eat, what we wear, and many other nature and nurture background factors. I remain convince though that what we've done, particularly in high school and college push its way out of our insides our whole lives. 
Much is made of the nerds in high school, the bookworm introverts and such who stay that way. That is even more true for the jocks and cheerleaders. In Gov. Christie's case, I suspect his crouched glories as catcher have defined him immutably. 
As this bridge scandal inevitably expands and splatters him, let' s see how many times he alludes to athleticism and his former glories. Jon Stewart may snort, but there is a jock inside the massive pol who won't be denied.
Cross-post: Because this is personal as well as political, it appears in Harrumph! as well. 

Thursday, January 16, 2014

MA Dems for Gov. Already a Good Crop

MA Gov. Deval Patrick has to step down after this second, four-year term. One of the usual buffoons, Charlie Baker, is certain to be the GOP nominee. On the Dem side though, there are some really good people running.
Disclaimer: I am well aware MA has elected numerous Republican governors. The prevailing, if you pardon, wisdom by polled voters is that there are so many Democrats in the State House that somehow it's only fair to elect a Republican to counterbalance them. Picking by party rather than policies and performance is pretty dumb and self-destructive. Yet, that mythology gives Baker a chance.
That aside, progressive sorts have a wealth of options this campaign. We'll invite many of them to chat with us at Left Ahead. We just had Steve Grossman; you can catch his show here. Next up will be Juliette Kayyem; you can hear her live at 2:30 PM Eastern on Tuesday, 1/28, here, or afterward at Left Ahead.

As I can, I'll also trot down to Suffolk Law for their Rappaport Center's lunchtime shows of candidates. This week was Don Berwick. He'll be on Left Ahead's show Tuesday, 2/11 at 2:30 here.

Kayyem has a solutions-to-big-problems platform and bills herself as a proven progressive. Well, so do Grossman and Berwick.

Grossman is someone Stephen Colbert would call a friend of the show. He's come on Left Ahead numerous times and we like him. He's very straight-ahead and presents well thought out progressive positions — replete with his solutions to problems.

Berwick has been new to me. I was impressed yesterday at Suffolk. If you drill into his issues, you'll find he offers detailed definitions of problem areas and presents how he'd better the condition, and even how he'd pay for doing that.

I wondered how he would cover his platform. Each plank could have taken the whole hour he had.

He spent about eight or ten minutes introducing himself and took questions from all comers. There was only one that stumped him, an arcane legal point about land frontage. He admitted he didn't know about the topic and asked the questioner to educate him after the session. He'll know next time.

If you see him in action, be prepared to be charmed. He is the son of a rural Connecticut (Moodus, population about 1400) GP. He likewise became a physician. He has that avuncular manner. He can also sling metaphors effectively.

One that I suspect will characterize his campaign referred to his upbringing. He drew the image of a small town where when a car is pulled over beside the road, the locals don't drive by. Rather they stop to ask whether they can help.

He riffed on that to say that government should be in the He went into his favorite Hubert Humphrey quote to tie the car into his philosophy. That would be:
It was once said that the moral test of government is how that government treats those who are in the dawn of life, the children; those who are in the twilight of life, the elderly; and those who are in the shadows of life, the sick, the needy and the handicapped.
By the bye, the Rappaport Center has made the video of Berwick's appearance available. They were as good as their word yesterday. You can see and hear it here.

He is the sort of very bright, extremely accomplished fellow who could be a jerk but isn't. He goes far beyond health care into such areas as a very detailed transportation-infrastructure plan (specified on his site). without bragging or condescension.

I left the session aware that he'll be a player in this election.

Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Elephant Dump on Henriquez

Can it be a pig pile if Republicans are jumping on? They were quick to the task today after MA State Rep. Carlos Henriquez was convicted and immediately sentenced. He will go to jail for six months of a two and one-half year term for two counts of assault and battery on a woman.

The jury found him not guilty on another A&B, on witness intimidation and on larceny under $250. He may even have been fortunate that the original charges could have included kidnapping.

The judge though did not like his attitude, did not find him remorseful, and did not seem to approve of his slapping his erstwhile female companion around then driving her against her will until she was able to hop out and away. As the Globe quoted Judge Michele Hogan,"When a woman tells you she doesn’t want to have sex, she doesn’t want to have sex."

We chatted with him in late 2010 when he was running for the 5th Suffolk seat. You can hear his show on Left Ahead here.

MA politics don't offer too many chance for glee or schadenfreude. The Globe article linked above does list other state Dems who have been charged with crimes. Today's sentencing hearing seemed to release pent vulture behavior.

As the article puts it:
After Henriquez’s sentencing, Republican Representative Elizabeth Poirier and the state Republican party called for Henriquez to resign.
“Now that Representative Henriquez has had his day in court, it is time for him to leave this institution which should in no way condone violence against women,” Poirier, who represents North Attleborough, said in a statement.
MassGOP Chairman Kirsten Hughes also issued a statement.
“The MassGOP calls on the state’s leading Democrat, Governor Deval Patrick to immediately demand the resignation of Representative Carlos Henriquez,” the statement said. “If the resignation is not tendered right away, there may not be adequate time for a special election and thus robbing the good people of Dorchester representation on Beacon Hill.”
Not surprisingly, Dem legislators called for a little compassion and for the process of his removal from office to take its course. Sure, he's out of there, but kicking him and jumping up and down on the supine body doesn't seem very civil. The Dems figure they can wait a day or two.

Then again...Republicans.

PM Update: The responses were not as reflexive and visceral, but Gov. Deval Patrick, House Speaker Roberty DeLeo and Boston Mayor Marty Walsh have also asked Henriquez to make this easy for everyone and resign. DeLeo said he'd act to expel Henriquez (supposedly through the House Ethics Committee) if he had to.