Everyone’s talking about Gov. Christie’s speech to 300 staunch Republicans at a Koch Brothers fundraiser this past June. It’s worth reading in its entirety, if only for the entertainment value. (Mother Jones, of all places, has a full transcript and audio.)
Our Governor, apparently, is a naturally-born story-teller, as he recites the tale of how Cowboy Christie wrangled both sides of the NJ Legislature to pass the health benefits/pension premium contributions reform bill. Absurdity abounds; it reminds me of Arlo Guthrie’s Alice’s Restaurant Massacre, banjo jangling in the background while rabblerouser Arlo relates how the police take their twenty-seven 8 by 10 glossy photographs with circles and arrows and a paragraph on the back of each one explain what each one was to be used as evidence against him.
Anyway, here’s the part of the transcript in question. In response, reports the Record, the Philadephia Inquirer, the Wall St. Journal, and just about everyone else, Assembly Speaker Sheila Oliver said that Gov. Christie is “mentally deranged.”
And Thursday night it came time for the Assembly. And they started to caucus at 11:00 in the morning. They were supposed to start voting at 1:00. It got to be 5:30 and they were still in the caucus room. And the reports I was getting out of there were not positive about what was going on to my friend the Speaker. She was takin’ a beating at the hands of her own party. At 5:30 she called me and she said to me, “Governor, I don’t know how this is going to play out, but I’m going to, I want to post the bill but I think when I go on the floor, my own party’s going to take a run at me to remove me as Speaker. So I can’t post the bill.” She said, “I think the only way I survive is if the 33 Republicans in the chamber will agree to vote for me for Speaker. Can you work it out?” [scattered laughter] So I said, “Give me five minutes.” [laughter]
So I went down to the Republican Assembly caucus room. I stood at the front of the room and I said, “Ladies and gentleman, it’s a historic day today. You’re going to get an opportunity to cast two historic votes.” [laughter] “The first one, of course, is about pension and benefit reform and I know that everybody in this room supports it. The second one is a little more unusual.” [laughter] I said, “Probably for the only time in my governorship I’m going to actually ask you to vote for a Democrat. I said Sheila Oliver is under siege. And she wants to do the right thing. And we cannot be slaves to party or partisanship. She is right on this issue and she is with us on this issue. So if they take a run at her on the floor, I need all of you to vote for her for Speaker.” I had these men and women look back at me like, “What?” [scattered laughter] And I said to ’em, “We were sent here to lead. Not to preen and posture, posture and pose. To lead. A public office to lead. We need to do this. So raise your hands. Are you with me or aren’t you?” All 33 of them raised their hands and said they were with me.And so I went back to my office, I got on the phone and I called the Speaker, and I said, “You just got 33 new votes.” And she said, “Well, you just got yourself a bill.