The Bully Pulpit

Caricature of New Jersey Governor Chris Christie by DonkeyHotey

The last few weeks have not been good for Governor Chris Christie. He has seen his presidential pretensions go up in smoke with the ever-widening scandal du jour, Bridgegate. Now his not-so-secret secret has come out. He is, in fact, a bully. GASP!

To those in the tri-state area, this comes as no surprise. We have seen him verbally assault teachers, reporters, voters, and basically anyone who has the cojones to disagree with him. This clip shows him scolding a teacher when she simply shakes her head in disagreement with his initial statement after her question.

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“First of all, I have not lambasted the public school system in the state of New Jersey. What I have lambasted-well listen, let’s start with this: I sat here, stood here, and very respectfully listened to you. If what you want to do is put on a show and giggle every time I talk, well then I have no interest in answering your question. So if you’d like to conduct a respectful conversation, I’m happy to do it. If you don’t, please go and sit down and I’ll answer the next question. What’s your choice?”

Christie letting her have it!
Christie letting her have it!

He bullies by belittling; he bullies by condescension; and he bullies by treating a grown woman like a little girl the minute she dares to disagree with him or question him in any way. Chris Christie is well-known for using his office to intimidate people. He punishes or humiliates perceived political enemies and those who stand against him. Can anyone really say the culture of intimidation he has promoted in his office has come as a shock?

Christie’s claim in his recent “I am a Sad, Sad Man, but Not a Bully” speech is belied by the videos (taken by his own people) of him actively bullying.

See Mother Jones’ 8 great Christie Classics.

This bullying problem is not owned solely by the chest-thumping governor of New Jersey. Since the turn of the twenty-first century, bullying in politics has become business as usual.

In 2002, President Cheney’s um…Bush led the US invasion of Iraq by lying to the American people about his phony baloney WMDs. Then Cheney took bullying to new heights. He actually bullied an entire country! Christie can only dream of such global browbeating.

Russian President Vladimir Putin has been a shirtless bully for the last 15 years. From 1999 to the present, he muscled his way into the top two political leadership positions – prime minister and president – by bullying the Russian voters. Last year he “won” his second presidential election.

Putin gayNow Putin has upped his game of intimidation to gay citizens by signing into law extremely draconian anti-gay legislation. This legislation will impose large fines for giving information about the lesbian, gay, bisexual and transgender, or LGBT, community to minors or by simply holding gay pride rallies. Break this law and you will be fined up to to 5,000 rubles ($156) for an individual and up to 1 million rubles ($31,000) for media organizations. Oh, and just to make his point that he is a clueless homophobe, Putin asked that gay visitors to Sochi for the Winter Olympics “leave children alone.” Because bullying the LGBT community isn’t enough, he needs to equate them to pedophiles. Of course, it’s hard to take Putin seriously when he plays ping-pong in his underwear with another man. Werk it GRRLL!!!

I do not remember a time in our history when such appalling behavior was not only acceptable, but almost expected. Along with the rise of Fox News, we have seen the rise of the rude and obnoxious bully as a regular commentator. Bill O’Reilly is the de facto leader of the pack. His disdain and obvious contempt for anyone who disagrees with him has been well-documented.

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Ann Coulter bullies left-wing progressives in every book she “writes.” For Ann, bullying made her rich! Just look at the titles of her books: “Slander: Liberal Lies About the American Right,” “Liberal ‘Victims’ and Their Assault on America,” or “How to Talk to a Liberal (If You Must)” and you get the picture.

The Queen of the Mean Girls is, of course, Sarah Palin, who revels in her bullying mean girl persona. When she is not (still) whining about her 2008 vice presidential debacle, she is bitching about the president, liberals, and “the lamestream media.” Oh wait, maybe she’s not so much a bully but an incredibly stupid barely literate moron. Crap, now I’m bullying! See what happens when you spend time with bitches?

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That fat drug addict Rush Limbaugh bullies as though the prize was a lifetime supply of OxyContin delivered by his housekeeper. And to show bi-partisanship, Texas Democratic Rep. Sheila Jackson Lee, who has been called out for bullying her staff and giving them profanity-laced nicknames, throwing temper tantrums and, at times, throwing objects, has in all seriousness introduced anti-bullying legislation! I love good irony!

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In fact, with the rise of anti-women legislation around the country by GOP-led states, the GOP as a group have become bullies against women and their health.

Facebook, of course, is the ground zero for anonymous bullying. People have proudly bullied girls on their Facebook pages after the girls have committed suicide for being bullied. When does it stop?

Obama & BrewerWe were all taught in grammar school that bullies are bad. We should always be kind to each other. But I have to believe that the bully is the symbol of this new century. We learn it from watching adults around us scream at the President of the United States with pointed fingers.

We see bullying in the reality shows on VH1, Bravo and other networks. We watch girls fight each other for sport on YouTube. Now we have evidence that the culture of bullying in Christie’s office allowed his staff to think it was OK to screw with the Mayor of Fort Lee, and cause three days of absolute hell for thousands of commuters, kids and emergency vehicles for petty political retribution. So I absolutely believe Chris Christie knew exactly what was happening in Fort Lee because he has shown a pattern of meanness, petty vindictiveness and bullying for years. And his closest staff learned by sitting at the feet of their master.