Strickland: Christie behavior emblematic of civil breakdown

Former Gov. Ted Strickland is a psychologist by trade who worked in a maximum security prison for ten years, so he has insight into human behaviors, he said, and what he saw from Gov. Chris Christie in Ohio back in 2010 impressed him not as stampeding virtue so much rank asocial conduct.

“I think we’re seeing some of these behaviors in the wider culture – sort of a harshness interpreted as strength,” Strickland told PolitickerNJ. “It’s of interest to me. …What I have been observing in Washington and elsewhere is that there is a break down in civility and mutual respect among people.”

Christie simply embodies an aspect of that incivility, said Strickland, who lost re-election as Ohio governor to Republican John Kasich, for whom Christie campaigned.

“One of the reasons I feel as strongly as I feel is that long before I was a politician I was a psychologist and I worked in a maximum security prison,” Strickland said.  “My initial impressions of Chris Christie were that he is a bully. The news clips of him pointing his finger in a teacher’s face, and calling  Navy Seal an idiot… I know some people interpreted those behaviors as a sign of strength and resolve and leadership, but I always interpreted those behaviors as those of an arrogant bully.”

Strickland, who doesn’t intend to run for governor again, said Kasich and Christie have similar characteristics.  

“John Kasich called a police officer an idiot and made a threat to people that ‘you can get on my bus, and if you don’t get on this bus I’m going to take that bus and run over you.’ These are two people with very similar attitudes and temperaments.”

In Chicago today to tail Christie as the latter takes a Republican Governors’ Association (RGA) swing through the windy city, Strickland heaped criticism on Christie as a consequence of Bridgegate.

But in his two hour press conference, the New Jersey governor appeared more concerned, Strickland said, “about the fact that people lied to him than he was about people inconvenienced and at risk, and yet he’s the chair of the Republican Governors’ Association and supposedly the role model of what the association thinks a governor should be.

“The people will need to determine that he should be forthcoming, he should be honest and take responsibility and stop blaming others and stop criticizing those asking legitimate questions,” Strickland added.  “In my judgment that depends on what the investigations show. If it is determined he knew or in any way was responsible for the lanes being closed on that heavily traveled bridge that’s a serious matter but even if he didn’t personally give the order the fact he has allowed a culture to develop in his administration that would lead his closest employees to feel this is appropriate and acceptable behavior that’s pretty damning. He has shown he is responsible.”

"I don't think what he's doing tonight, the method by which he's doing it helps to build a trustful relationship."
—Gov. Chris Christie reacting to President Barack Obama's speech on immigration reform.