Big baby

Chris Christie's ability to poke fun at himself is among the New Jersey governor's most appealing personal qualities. Remember his donut-munching move last February on David Letterman? Politically and otherwise, it was perfection.

Not so the Republican incumbent's soggy response to a rather deft jab delivered by Democratic challenger Barbara Buono.

“I don’t know about you, but seeing Chris Christie frolicking on the beach is not going to drive me to go to the shore,” Buono says in a video of a recent speech that has been posted on YouTube (see the clip below).

Revealing an uncharacteristically jocular side of a candidate whose campaign so far has not suffered from an overabundance either of wit or excitement, the single sentence also provoked an overreaction from the governor.

Christie didn't laugh off his opponent's remark, as might any candidate who enjoys a mega-lead in the polls. He instead sought a traditionally liberal refuge: Lamenting another's insufficient sensitivity to the travails of a special constituency.

"For me and for other folks across New Jersey — many folks — who are challenged by their weight, the fact that someone running for governor would make derisive comments about someone’s physical appearance is really beneath the office that she’s seeking," the governor sniffed.

This from the same guy who recently called a reporter an "idiot," and whose blunt bombast is a signifier of what fans call a refreshing genuineness, if not genius?

Perhaps the only thing less convincing than Christie's attempt to impose his self-serving brand of political correctness is the Buono campaign's assertion that she was in no way referring to the governor's bulk.

Come on, Babs.

Your phrase about Christie "frolicking on the beach," with its implied image of the governor in leisure attire (if not swimwear), may have been unscripted. But it was not unintentional. And it also was funny -- like when Christie munched that jelly donut on Letterman.


--Kevin Riordan