New Jersey Governor Chris Christie does it again. I almost felt sorry (almost) for Marie Corfield, an elementary school teacher who stood up at a question-and-answer session with the governor and demanded to know how his reforms would help teachers since his budget cuts had resulted in so many lay-offs among the selfless pedagogues that populate New Jersey’s public schools. “We have some of the best schools in the country,” quoth la Corfield, “and you have done nothing but lambaste us.”
Pardon us while we dab away the tears.
When the governor began to respond, Ms. Corfield rolled her eyes and acted like one of her pupils taunting a classmate. That was when Gov. Christie delivered one of his classic put-downs. “If you want to put on a show then just sit down. But if you want to have a respectful discussion then let me answer your question.”
Yikes. That alone was worth the price of admission but what followed is a script that anyone who cares about the tsunami of public debt that is poised to wash over America should hearken to carefully. Christie didn’t “lambaste” teachers, he said, he lambasted the teachers’ union, especially its leaders. Why were so many teachers laid off in New Jersey? Because when the governor called upon teachers to take a one-year pay freeze and contribute 1.5% — one-and a half percent! — of their salaries to the cost of their health care (full-family medical, dental, and vision coverage, by the way), the union leaders said: “No way. Not a penny.” Result: nearly a billion-dollar shortfall in the budget, which necessitated scads of layoffs. (Had Gov. Christie’s proposal been accepted, the state would have saved more than $700,000,000.) “So who’s really to blame?” he asked: the governor or the intransigent teachers unions?
“We have to get realistic about telling people the truth,” Christie said, a sentiment that is gaining currency all across the country — not, of course, among the political class that actually governs us: no, Christie is a rare exception in that cohort, but among the vast majority of ordinary Americans that imperative is more and more the order of the day.
Here’s the clip. Do watch to the end. The governor’s response when Ms Corfield comes back to complain about his “tone” is not to be missed. (Remember when a union official sent around an email suggesting people pray for the governor’s death?)