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Hullabaloo


Sunday, September 15, 2013

 
Sure, just let Chris Christie have free rein. What could go wrong?

by digby

This is a fascinating profile in the Daily Beast of the Democratic nominee for Governor New Jersey, Barbara Buono, examining the power of shallow celebrity and how it shapes our politics:
The problem for Buono is that, unlike Booker, she isn’t a celebrity. Instead she’s running against one. And running against a celebrity may be more difficult today than at any time in recent American history. State and regional newspapers—the institutions that used to police campaigns and ensure some measure of equal time between candidates, while applying a degree of investigative scrutiny to powerful incumbents—are withering. “The Star-Ledger used to have great investigative reporters not that long ago,” Buono says, in the course of lamenting the—hint, hint—“waste, fraud, and abuse in state government.” Meanwhile, the relative demise of these papers has made it all the more important for candidates to speak directly to voters through social media—a medium that provides a huge built-in advantage to a politician who is already a celebrity. (Christie has almost 400,000 Twitter followers. Buono has under 6,000.)

[...]In fairness, it isn’t just the media that have frustrated Buono’s efforts to get traction. With Christie widely viewed as a shoo-in, few prominent Democrats have been willing to stick their necks out on her behalf. In New Jersey, many Dems have abandoned her, while national power players, including President Obama, have all but ignored her.

I wondered: what does it look like, up close, when a credible, politically reasonable—but largely unknown—person attempts to get a fair hearing for her rather popular ideas in the face of an unstoppable juggernaut like Chris Christie? And is it possible that, in the doomed, depressing campaign of Barbara Buono, there lies a broader cautionary tale about the way American democracy treats political celebrities?

[...]A lawyer who spent seven years in the state Assembly and 11 more in the state Senate (two of them as majority leader), she’s got a solid résumé. She’s a forceful speaker and does well on camera. Against another candidate, in another election, nobody would be writing her off.

But the Christie of 2013 is about the toughest opponent imaginable. That’s partly because his very public bromance with President Obama in the wake of Hurricane Sandy—just days before the presidential election—earned him a lot of good will with New Jersey Democratic voters. A week before the storm, according to a Quinnipiac poll, Buono trailed by 16 points. By late November, Quinnipiac had her down by 38. “No, she doesn’t have a shot,” says Monmouth University pollster Patrick Murray. “Before Hurricane Sandy she did have a shot.”
She is no longer 38 points down.

Here's the thing I don't get about any of this. Sure Christie may have a lock. But since he's widely considered to be a top tier candidate for 2016, why not take this opportunity to bang him up a little? Why add to his luster as a "juggernaut"? (And the guy isn't actually invincible, anything could happen.) Christie is especially horrifying to women and it would seem to me to be useful to the Democratic Party and its 2016 front runner to set that up as a salient issue as soon as possible.

Furthermore, judging by that polling, it's at least partially President Obama's fault that Christie got such a bump (certainly the second visit was pretty gratuitous) and you'd think for the sake of the Party he'd make some effort to mitigate it. I won't even talk about the foolishness of the New Jersey Democratic Party that can't be bothered. Buono is a progressive, fully in touch with New Jersey voters so naturally Democrats won't waste any time or effort to help get that word out. The establishment is too busy recruiting Republicans to run as Democrats in quixotic races in Red States and spending lots of money to validate right wing talking points. We wouldn't want to change that winning strategy. After all, having Democrats constantly move to the right has worked so well to moderate the Republican Party.

Politics is drowning in money right now. And the right is spending bucketloads of it to hold their base and expand their map. They are so out of touch with the needs and desires of average Americans that it isn't easy to get it done but you can believe they'll continue to do everything in their power to make sure everybody in American hears their message regardless. You'd think the Democrats would spend some of theirs on swing state elections at least to set the table for the future, particularly when it comes to seizing opportunities to pull the hide off a rising star of the opposition. Instead they're giving Christie free rein to spend gigantic sums of money indoctrinating voters into thinking he's a swell, regular Joe without any opposing views being given an airing. But then I've heard an awful lot of Democratic men extol his virtues as an honest guy they'd like to have a beer with, so I guess I'm not too surprised. Women not so much. Why? This:


That makes me so angry I can't see straight. He speaks to her like a child. I've known too many macho bullies like him in my life not to recognize a misgoynistic scumbag when I see one. I'd sooner vote for George W. Bush than that asshole and I can't believe the Democrats are appearing with him and letting him build his reputation because he's a bro. It makes me sick.

And he's not exactly a moderate:
New Jersey’s unemployment rate is the highest in the region, and yet he left $3 billion in federal money on the table when he canceled plans to build a tunnel under the Hudson River. The state’s credit rating has dropped on his watch, thanks to his habit of pushing costs to the future. New Jersey’s foreclosure rate is also among the highest in the nation, and the state’s response among the most inept...Christie opposes abortion rights and closed six Planned Parenthood clinics. He vetoed marriage equality. He vetoed a surtax on millionaires. He has retreated on climate change. And he removed the only black justice from the state Supreme Court.
If you'd like to support Buono so she can at least put some ads on the air to counter that creepy jackass's hideous lies you can do it here.

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