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Gov. Chris Christie, his fans, and their race to the bottom

August 30, 2010 - Mike Maneval

The Republican governor of New Jersey, former federal prosecutor Chris Christie, got some positive attention last week.

Kevin Hassett, writing Sunday for Bloomberg.com, says Christie is "in touch with the national sense of unease," and concludes his commentary saying in Christie, the "Republican Party may have found a real star." John Guardiano, writing for the website of David Frum, former speechwriter to President George W. Bush, titled his post "Leadership 101 with Chris Christie."

But while Hassett completely ignores the "Race to the Top" scandal and Guardiano tip-toes around it, the truth is far less flattering to Christie.

Errors in New Jersey's application to the federal "Race to the Top" education grant competition likely cost the Garden State acceptance. The program made federal grant money eligible to the top 10 states to apply under a set of guidelines and standards. Christie, rather than take responsibility for the errors, sulked and steamed about the U.S. Department of Education - Guardiano hilariously describes this fit as "lambast(ing) the federal bureaucrats for their apparent indifference to the real-world consequences of their misdeeds." For all Christie's petulance in expecting a Mulligan, a chance to correct the errors, Christie didn't clarify if he felt a state whose officials were more attentive to detail should be bumped from its share of the $3.3 billion, or if he wanted a 10 percent increase in federal funding for the program so New Jersey merely could be added to the nine states and District of Columbia already selected.

Christie also claimed his education commissioner told him an offer to correct the information had been made earlier to the federal department. Soon, videotape contradicting the claim surfaced. Christie and fellow Republican Bret Schundler, the former Jersey City mayor who was the education commissioner while the application was prepared, were left pointing their fingers at each other, Schundler claiming he had never told Christie he had offered to provide the information and Christie saying Schundler is lying, and firing him.

And Patrick Diegnan, chairman of the state Assembley's education committee, pointedly notes the errant application was ordered by Christie after an initial one already had been drafted. Critics allege the superior version was junked because it included input from the New Jersey Teachers Association.

PoliticsPatrol, a New Jersey political blog, reports that after the rejection Christie said the state will continue to work toward "holding teachers and students accountable for the classroom and the government for the education system." And I suppose, since the governor and top officials clearly are against being held accountable themselves, the state - and Christie's lapdogs like Hassett and Guardiano - truly will continue to work toward holding teachers, the general public and anyone else they can accountable for every ill that bedevils the Garden State instead.

 
 

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