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Thursday, June 3, 2010

Throwing Your Assistants Under the Bus

One of the demerits of the Clinton Administration was earned by its propensity for throwing its own loyal members "under the bus," as the saying goes.   The Administration employed honorable men -- Bernard Nussbaum comes to particular mind -- and then blamed, smeared and jettisoned them when it became politically expedient.

One wonders if the same thing is occurring in New Jersey with still-new Governor Chris Christie openly criticizing his own education commissioner, Bret Schundler, for Schundler's negotiations with the teachers' union.  See this Thursday Star-Ledger report.  Schundler and the union reached an agreement on some reforms and policies in connection with a federal education program, only to have Christie then claim he learned about the deal "in the papers" and repudiate the agreement.

In other situations, cabinet members and other appointees have resigned over less overt repudiations.  But it is the job of some investigative lawyers (such as I) to try to ascertain the truth through the fog, the deceptions and the noise purposely thrown out to distract and confuse. 

Here, a nationally-known education reformer (Schundler) is being taken to task by a man (Christie) whom Schundler may consider to be inferior, both culturally and intellectually if not also morally, and who may well be a far less capable governor than Schundler (himself a Republican candidate for governor in 2001).  On the other hand, these facts may make Schundler a Christie appointee who doesn't exactly "know his place," meaning he may not be showing the proper amount of obedience -- or respect -- to the man who appointed him and who is his boss.  It is possible that Christie has appointed a "know-it-all" education commissioner with an attitude that he (meaning Schundler) knows better than anyone else.  If this latter theory is correct (and I just say it is a possible theory), then what may be Schundler's intellectual snobbery may be rubbing a nouveau-riche, blue-collar-at-heart Christie the wrong way.

Think of this as the conflict between the Grey Poupon and deli-brand-yellow mustards.

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