Paul Waldman thinks Chris Christie's "Sit down and shut up" response to a heckler was both calculated and sincere; Kevin Drum thinks it was largely rehearsed:
To me, Christie appears entirely under control. I don't doubt that there's some real annoyance there (even a Vulcan would get annoyed at your average heckler), but overall Christie's response gives the impression of being practically scripted. There are even a couple of instances where Christie seems like he forgot his lines and hurriedly tosses them in before heckler guy goes away and ruins his chance to get off his best zingers.I think Christie does this mostly off the top of his head -- but I wonder if his people made an effort to let this guy get front and center at the event. And I do mean front and center -- there he is, perfectly framed in the shot:
Christie is trying very, very hard to get attention -- quarantining an asymptomatic Ebola nurse, saying he's "tired of hearing about the minimum wage," and trash-talking the Republican senators who are running for president while saying, "It's time to start offending people." That's just in the past ten days. Yes, he has a legitimate temper, but he's looking to make trouble right now. This heckler was a gift.
Waldman thinks this isn't a good approach to take to Iowa, however:
But you know where you don't get too many chances to show what a tough guy you are? Iowa. Campaigning for the caucuses is an interminable process of trooping from living room to senior center to VFW hall, meeting people in small groups, looking them in the eye and asking them for their votes. Christie is a pretty good retail politician, so it isn't that he can't perform in those settings. But being tough just isn't part of that show, and if the biggest part of Christie's appeal is that he can talk like an extra from Goodfellas when somebody challenges him, he isn't going to get very far.Well, yes, but in Iowa he'll be looking ahead to states like New Hampshire and Florida, where they're not so Midwestern-nice. And there are hecklers in Iowa -- Michelle Bachmann was heckled in 2011 by a man angry at her anti-gay policy pronouncements, and one of Mitt Romney's most notorious soundbites was in response to Iowa heckling:
Speaking to an occasionally rowdy crowd two days before the Ames Straw poll, Republican presidential candidate Mitt Romney made what seems likely to become a much-discussed flub, declaring to a group of Iowans that "corporations are people."I don't think Christie's going to go all Joe Pesci on some caucus-going Republican farmer -- but if he's heckled by liberals, he's going for it. If he thinks it'll help him, I expect him to try to goad liberals into heckling him. He'll say provocative things in order to get heckled.
Pressed by an attendee at the Iowa State Fair on Thursday as to why he was focusing on entitlement reforms as a means of deficit reduction over asking corporations to share part of the burden, the GOP frontrunner shot back:
"Corporations are people, my friend... of course they are. Everything corporations earn ultimately goes to the people. Where do you think it goes? Whose pockets? Whose pockets? People's pockets. Human beings my friend."
As they say in the music business, the guy knows three chords. These are the chords.