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YOU LOOKING AT ME?

Chris Christie’s lessons on how not to go away quietly

AP/Frank Franklin II
Governor Christie is having a no good, horrible, very bad year.
By Molly Rubin
Published Last updated This article is more than 2 years old.

Chris Christie hasn’t had the best year. After losing his 2016 presidential bid, narrowly avoiding criminal prosecution in the Fort Lee bridge scandal, and failing to gain a top position in the Trump administration (despite ordering the meatloaf) the New Jersey governor could have gone down one of two paths: Quietly go back to governing the Garden State, shore up his legacy, and spend his final year in office working hard for his constituents; or spend 2017 trolling the public and the press with a negative publicity campaign worthy of King Joffrey.

Christie has wholeheartedly picked option No. 2.

The embattled politician spent the summer shutting down the state government, using a beach he had closed to everyone else, screaming during a radio call-in show, and insulting citizens—all while carrying one of the lowest approval ratings for any governor in modern history.

Since Christie seems to be making a new career out of getting negative press and fanning the flames of controversy, we used his most egregious public gaffes to make a handy list of pro-tips on how to enrage the public and not go away quietly:

1. Use your public appearances as an opportunity to scream at voters

On Sunday (July 30), Christie got into a public shouting match with a heckler who shouted “you suck!” at the governor during a Brewers game they were attending in Milwaukee, WI. According to the heckler, Brad Joseph, Christie was on his way back to his seat from a nachos run when he heard the offending jeer. He apparently couldn’t resist stopping and turned around to confront Joseph, getting right in his face. The very public display of anger is now going viral in a Twitter video that captured the end of the exchange:

Christie asked Joseph if he wanted to “start something” and sarcastically called him a “big shot. “[He] was yelling at me. First he told me, ‘Why don’t you have another beer?’ which I thought was a decent comeback, and I thought that was kind of funny,” Joseph said. “Then he started calling me a tough guy.”

Impressively, Christie managed to maintain a steady grasp on his nachos the whole time.

This isn’t Christie’s first incident at a baseball game this summer. The governor was loudly booed at a Mets game earlier this month when he caught a foul ball.

2. Shut off access to state resources so you can use them for yourself

Over the 4th of July weekend, the New Jersey state government was shut down during a budget standoff between lawmakers and the governor, an impasse that included closing all of New Jersey’s public beaches and parks. In a gold-medal display of public trolling, Christie maintained he “didn’t get any sun” when he was asked by a reporter at a press conference whether his family used the beach while they stayed at Island Beach State Park for the holiday. Hours later, aerial photos showed Christie and his family sunbathing and enjoying the otherwise empty beach.

When Christie’s office was pressed about the governor’s assertion he didn’t get any sun during the budget impasses, a spokesperson for the governor doubled-down: “He did not get any sun. He had a baseball hat on.”

3. When you’re in the middle of an image crisis, drag your family in

After #BeachGate, as it came to be known, Christie refused to acknowledge he’d done anything wrong, complaining of unfair treatment and harassment of his children.  “They were more hurt by this latest episode than they’ve been hurt by anything else that has happened in the eight years,” Christie said  during a call-in to a local NJ radio show, ”They don’t understand people’s unfairness and, quite frankly, their ignorance.”

Even though all of New Jersey’s citizens could not access state beaches and parks for the majority of the holiday weekend, the governor most regretted that his four children, including his college-aged son who was visiting with friends, “blamed themselves” for the incident.

4. If all else fails, go on sports radio to complain and insult your electorate

Christie took a turn as a guest host on New York’s WFAN sports radio show (reportedly an audition for a more permanent role when he leaves office). A caller, identified as “Mike in Montclair,” called in to complain  about the beach incident and also threw a few insults Christie’s way. Instead of responding with a vague apology and promises to do better, as most seasoned politicians would, Christie seized the opportunity to insult his critics and flex his anger.

“You know Mike, I love, I love getting calls from communists in Montclair,” Christie quipped on air. He went on to call Mike a “bum,” cut off the call, and criticized Montclair for its left-leaning politics.”

5. Always keep an eye on the future

All in all, Christie’s summer is shaping up to be an expert lesson in courting controversy, getting negative press, and enraging the public. Normally this kind of behavior would be the nail in the coffin of any high-profile politician, but in the era of Trump, America’s troller-in-chief, who knows?

Trump could very well appoint a new Attorney General soon, and the White House communications director position recently opened up again. If the previous occupant’s profanity-laced interview to the New Yorker is any indication, Christie just might be perfect for the role, if he can up his game.

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