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Christie turns into Nelson from 'The Simpsons,' filled with cartoonish rage

hayneMichael080311_optBY MICHAEL HAYNE
NEWJERSEYNEWSROOM.COM
COMMENTARY

New Jersey Governor and favorite would-be Republican Presidential Candidate, Chris Christie, is on the receiving end of a tongue-lashing over making some controversial comments regarding the Civil Rights movement. Christie, whose brash and combative “tough guy” governing style doesn’t always sit well with voters, said that blacks in the 1960s would have preferred referendums on desegregation -- a move he has backed for same-sex marriage in New Jersey.

"I think people would have been happy to have a referendum on civil rights, rather than fighting and dying in the streets in the South," Christie said after an event in Central Jersey.

Perhaps realizing that wasn’t the greatest choice of words, Christie apologized the next day. But that certainly hasn’t stopped Democratic members of the civil rights movement from blasting Christie. Rep. John Lewis (D-GA), a revered hero of the civil rights movement, visited the New Jersey capital the other day to ratchet up pressure on the gargantuan governor.

"I've said over the years that I fought too long and too hard against discrimination based on race and color not to stand up and speak out against discrimination based on sexual orientation," Lewis said.

Even Corey Booker joined the chorus of critics, saying “Jackie Robinson would not have had the opportunity to break the sport's color barrier had the matter been put to a vote, and the mayor himself would not have had the opportunity, years later, to be elected to lead New Jersey's largest city.”

However, Christie claims that those criticizing him for misunderstanding history can only be “misinterpreted” by those “desperately” trying to change the subject.

Doing his best Beavis & Butthead impression, the garrulous governor then called NJ Assemblyman Reed Gusciora “numbnuts” after the assemblyman compared Christie to segregationist-era Alabama Gov. George Wallace and Georgia Gov. Lester Maddox.

“What I said was I'm sure that civil rights advocates would like to have had this as another option but it was not available to them and the reason it wasn't -- although I didn't say this -- was because the political climate wasn't advantageous to even consider doing this," Christie told NJ.com and other reporters who attended the Statehouse briefing.

"Yet you have numbnuts like Reed Gusciora, who put out a statement, you know, comparing me to George Wallace and Lester Maddox. Now, you know, come on guys at some point you have got to be able to call BS on those kinds of press releases. There are any number of you in this room who may have quarrels with my policies, but George Wallace and Lester Maddox, you know, I don't think they were advocating for urban education in their time in office. So I think we have a pretty good distinction there," he said.

Once again, it seems Christie cannot opine on the merits of any issue without imploding in a paroxysm of cartoonish rage and resorting to behavior reminiscent of Nelson, the chubby bully from The Simpsons.

Follow Michael Hayne on Twitter and Facebook.

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