Chris Christie’s Cheap Shot

 

“My mother was a smoker,” Chris Christie told a New Hampshire audience in a video that has gone viral. Though she tried everything – gum, patches, hypnosis – nothing worked. When she was diagnosed with cancer, he continued, “No one came to me and said, ‘Don’t treat her ’cause she got what she deserved.’ No one … said, ‘Hey listen, you know your mother was dumb. She started smoking when she was 16. Then after we told her it was bad for her, she kept doing it, so we’re not going to give her chemotherapy, we’re not gonna give her radiation, we’re not going to give her any of that stuff — you know why? Cause she’s getting what she deserves.’ No one said that.”

But, Christie said, when it comes to heroin, cocaine, and alcohol addicts, people react differently. Too often, he claimed, “People say ‘they’re getting what they deserve.’”

Really? I wonder if Christie could name some, because it seems that he has just erected a straw man that would make Barack Obama, the straw man master, envious. Who is opposed to drug and alcohol treatment?

While it’s true that there are many more addicts than there are treatment programs, this doesn’t prove that judgmental martinets are blocking access, merely that it’s expensive, and that there are rising numbers of drug abusers. Overdose deaths from heroin have quadrupled since 2004, and use has increased by 63 percent, according to the Centers for Disease Control.

The world isn’t divided between those who want to treat addicts and those who want to turn their backs. There are some (and I include myself) who think addiction is not like multiple myeloma or autism in that there is an element of choice in the former and not the latter. But that doesn’t mean we would stint on treatment.

Christie has raised some substantive issues in this race (entitlements, for example) and good for him. But this looks like an exercise in the kind of moral exhibitionism that has become so common on the left and that Christie ought to be above. The point of his little sermon was not to discuss policy options, but to showcase his own feelings. Christie was no doubt delighted by headlines like this from CBS: ”Chris Christie’s Emotional Plea For Addiction Treatment Goes Viral.”

Treatment is not any sort of panacea for addiction either. Dr. Sally Satel, a psychiatrist and addiction specialist, estimates that between 40 and 60 percent of participants in drug treatment programs drop out within the first few weeks or months while effective outpatient treatment typically requires at least a  year. She is encouraged by the success of programs like Swift, Certain, and Fair, which impose immediate (but not harsh) consequences on substance abusers and have been found to be quite effective. But realists will keep their expectations modest.

The second half of Christie’s emotional appeal was more offensive than the first. “I’m pro-life,” he proclaimed. “And I believe that if you’re going to be pro-life you have to be pro-life for the whole life, not just for the nine months in the womb. It’s easy to be pro-life for the nine months you’re in the womb; they haven’t done anything to disappoint us yet … but when they get out, that’s when it gets tough.”

This is a tired and familiar charge from the left. They are fond of saying that pro-lifers only care about babies before they’re born and not after. Good liberals, by contrast, may be fine with dismembering unborn babies, but once they’re out of the womb, boy, they’re determined to give them benefits like WIC and Head Start.

This is fatuous. In the first place, no level of social welfare support for children can morally outweigh licensed killing. Surely that’s what the unborn would say, if they had a voice. Second, the cliché about pro-lifers being indifferent to babies after birth is utterly fictional. This country boasts more than 2000 crisis pregnancy centers that feature support for pregnant women and provide aid during the first year of life (and sometimes beyond) for their children. Christians, who comprise the majority of pro-life Americans, are more than twice as likely to adopt children as non-Christians. People who attend religious services at least once a week (again, assuming considerable overlap with pro-life views) are also more likely to serve as foster parents, volunteers of all kinds, and blood donors. They are also more likely to donate to charities than their secular counterparts. How does that possibly translate into not caring about the “whole life”?

Christie doubtless knows all of this, which makes his cheap shot at his fellow pro-lifers especially disappointing.

There are 45 comments.

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  1. Annefy Member
    Annefy
    @Annefy

    Mona’s cheap shot:

    “The world isn’t divided between those who want to treat addicts and those who want to turn their backs. There are some (and I include myself) who think addiction is not like multiple myeloma or autism in that there is an element of choice in the former and not the latter. But that doesn’t mean we would stint on treatment.”

    Where was autism or multiple myeloma mentioned? Chris Christie specifically mentioned lung cancer as a result of a lifetime of smoking.

    • #1
  2. Karen Humiston Member
    Karen Humiston
    @KarenHumiston

    I think this is partly a reaction to some of the flack Christie took when he ordered New Jersey flags to be lowered to half-staff after the death of Whitney Houston.  He heard from many, many people who felt that Whitney deserved no such recognition, because she deserved what happened to her.

    Having watched a loved one fight through addiction, I have learned things that I did not understand before.  Yes, there are choices involved, especially at the beginning, but once the addiction takes hold, it’s almost as if the person’s free will has been taken from them.  Addiction is so insidious, and so very difficult to overcome, because it it undermines the character of those in its clutches. It turns decent people into lying, stealing strangers. And it is very difficult to help them when they don’t want to be helped — the pull of the addiction is so strong that it will pull them back, if they are not in on the fight themselves. This does not mean that we should give up on these people, or lose all compassion for them. We don’t have to, and we should not, make ourselves hostage to their addiction, but I hope we can help and support them when they are ready to fight their way back out of that slavery.  It’s a hellishly difficult balance to strike for those who love the person: when to reach out and protect (the gut-level impulse of any parent), and when to say “Until you are willing to change, you cannot be part of our life.”

    I don’t like moralistic, straw-man arguments either.  But without knowing the context of Christie’s remarks, I heard them as a plea not to give up on the person who was there before addiction wreaked its havoc with them.

    • #2
  3. Commodore BTC Member
    Commodore BTC
    @CommodoreBTC

    prohibition is the most significant barrier to addiction treatment

    • #3
  4. BrentB67 Member
    BrentB67
    @BrentB67

    Dear Gov. Christie,

    Were cigarette labels printed with warnings regarding their hazards? I assume your mother was literate.

    I am sorry she was stricken with cancer. She is entitled to all the chemotherapy, radiation, and treatment she and the rest of your family can afford and are willing to pay for.

    Respectfully, I would like to keep my money to pay for my family and we will pray for yours.

    R,

    BrentB67

    • #4
  5. Karen Humiston Member
    Karen Humiston
    @KarenHumiston

    Also, I did not hear his remarks as a cheap shot, or as any kind of shot, at pro-lifers.  Of course, we should protect the lives of all children.  But I have often reflected that it is so much easier to love the innocent child than the often difficult teenager or adult.  As Christie says, that baby has not disappointed us yet.  One of the great blessings of motherhood is that no matter how disappointed or pained I may be at the poor choices of one of my young-adult children, I still see a glimmer of that darling little child that was.  That’s how Christie’s words hit me.  Addiction is devastating because of what it does to a person’s character.  We need to hold out hope for the soul that’s still in there somewhere.  Sorry if that sounds soft or sentimental.  It’s a mom thing.

    • #5
  6. Karen Humiston Member
    Karen Humiston
    @KarenHumiston

    BrentB67:Dear Gov. Christie,

    Were cigarette labels printed with warnings regarding their hazards? I assume your mother was literate.

    I am sorry she was stricken with cancer. She is entitled to all the chemotherapy, radiation, and treatment she and the rest of your family can afford and are willing to pay for.

    Respectfully, I would like to keep my money to pay for my family and we will pray for yours.

    R,

    BrentB67

    Keep your prayers.  My father died from emphysema.  He started smoking, as Christie’s mom probably did, before there were warning labels, and when most people smoked.  In any case, young people do stupid things, and once the addiction takes hold, it is hellishly difficult to quit.  Not impossible, but hellishly difficult.  I recognize that there were poor choices involved (I assume you and your family have never made poor choices), but I would rather err on the side of compassion than to be as cold, sanctimonious and judgmental as you come off in your post.

    • #6
  7. Annefy Member
    Annefy
    @Annefy

    BrentB67:Dear Gov. Christie,

    Were cigarette labels printed with warnings regarding their hazards? I assume your mother was literate.

    I am sorry she was stricken with cancer. She is entitled to all the chemotherapy, radiation, and treatment she and the rest of your family can afford and are willing to pay for.

    Respectfully, I would like to keep my money to pay for my family and we will pray for yours.

    R,

    BrentB67

    On shaky ground that as a society we are not capable of dealing with. Should my obese friends only get the healthcare they can directly pay for? Eating is a choice and the risks of obesity are known.

    Should anyone who rides a motorcycle get only the healthcare they can afford due to an accident? We all know riding a motorcycle is risky.

    • #7
  8. Al Sparks Thatcher
    Al Sparks
    @AlSparks

    Christie was, in a sense, talking apples and oranges. His mother was receiving treatment for physical ailments probably related to her smoking. Direct treatment for addictions are not clear cut, or all that effective.

    I think the mental health industry in general often engages in a kind of voodoo.

    • #8
  9. KiminWI Member
    KiminWI
    @KiminWI

    BrentB67:Dear Gov. Christie,

    Were cigarette labels printed with warnings regarding their hazards? I assume your mother was literate.

    I am sorry she was stricken with cancer. She is entitled to all the chemotherapy, radiation, and treatment she and the rest of your family can afford and are willing to pay for.

    Respectfully, I would like to keep my money to pay for my family and we will pray for yours.

    R,

    BrentB67

    Actually Brent, they probably were not there when she started smoking. Remember that there was a time when the tobacco companies claimed that smoking was good for your health.

    • #9
  10. Annefy Member
    Annefy
    @Annefy

    Al Sparks:Christie was, in a sense, talking apples and oranges.His mother was receiving treatment for physical ailments probably related to her smoking.Direct treatment for addictions are not clear cut, or all that effective.

    I think the mental health industry in general often engages in a kind of voodoo.

    Which is what makes this such a complicated issue. I just found out a loved one has voluntarily entered herself into rehab for alcohol abuse and I’m frankly afraid that there will be more harm than good done.

    • #10
  11. Vance Richards Member
    Vance Richards
    @VanceRichards

    BrentB67:Dear Gov. Christie,

    Were cigarette labels printed with warnings regarding their hazards? I assume your mother was literate.

    I am sorry she was stricken with cancer. She is entitled to all the chemotherapy, radiation, and treatment she and the rest of your family can afford and are willing to pay for.

    Respectfully, I would like to keep my money to pay for my family and we will pray for yours.

    R,

    BrentB67

    Be it cancer or drug addiction, of course people should get help. But why should the taxpayers be the ones paying for it?

    • #11
  12. Karen Humiston Member
    Karen Humiston
    @KarenHumiston

    Vance Richards:Be it cancer or drug addiction, of course people should get help. But why should the taxpayers be the ones paying for it?

    Of course, this is the problem with government paying for all health care.  Up until fairly recently, people’s poor choices were their own business, as long as they didn’t hurt other people.  Once other people are paying for my health care, they have the right to stick their noses into every area of my life.  The government has an interest in dictating what I eat, how often I exercise, whether I follow every (ever-changing) recommendation for living a healthy life.  Personal foibles become the government’s business.  Big Nanny is in charge.

    • #12
  13. BrentB67 Member
    BrentB67
    @BrentB67

    Karen Humiston:

    BrentB67:Dear Gov. Christie,

    Were cigarette labels printed with warnings regarding their hazards? I assume your mother was literate.

    I am sorry she was stricken with cancer. She is entitled to all the chemotherapy, radiation, and treatment she and the rest of your family can afford and are willing to pay for.

    Respectfully, I would like to keep my money to pay for my family and we will pray for yours.

    R,

    BrentB67

    Keep your prayers. My father died from emphysema. He started smoking, as Christie’s mom probably did, before there were warning labels, and when most people smoked. In any case, young people do stupid things, and once the addiction takes hold, it is hellishly difficult to quit. Not impossible, but hellishly difficult. I recognize that there were poor choices involved (I assume you and your family have never made poor choices), but I would rather err on the side of compassion than to be as cold, sanctimonious and judgmental as you come off in your post.

    I make bad choices all the time and endure the consequences of them as  well.

    Gov. Christie, you, me, or anyone else should have no claim to the property of others in dealing with the consequences of poor choices.

    Compassion is voluntary. Government isn’t compassionate, it is tyrannical.

    • #13
  14. BrentB67 Member
    BrentB67
    @BrentB67

    Vance Richards:

    BrentB67:Dear Gov. Christie,

    Were cigarette labels printed with warnings regarding their hazards? I assume your mother was literate.

    I am sorry she was stricken with cancer. She is entitled to all the chemotherapy, radiation, and treatment she and the rest of your family can afford and are willing to pay for.

    Respectfully, I would like to keep my money to pay for my family and we will pray for yours.

    R,

    BrentB67

    Be it cancer or drug addiction, of course people should get help. But why should the taxpayers be the ones paying for it?

    Exactly

    • #14
  15. Annefy Member
    Annefy
    @Annefy

    Karen Humiston:

    Vance Richards:Be it cancer or drug addiction, of course people should get help. But why should the taxpayers be the ones paying for it?

    Of course, this is the problem with government paying for all health care. Up until fairly recently, people’s poor choices were their own business, as long as they didn’t hurt other people. Once other people are paying for my health care, they have the right to stick their noses into every area of my life. The government has an interest in dictating what I eat, how often I exercise, whether I follow every (ever-changing) recommendation for living a healthy life. Personal foibles become the government’s business. Big Nanny is in charge.

    In a perfect world we would have available a heath insurance policy, that we paid for, that was weighted for risks. I could forgo any mental health services, addiction services and certainly at this point in my life pregnancy. At the same time I would pay higher because I am an ex smoker.

    My husband would have paid higher when he rode a motorcycle. And my brother the jock, his wife the jock and his four jock offspring would have to pay higher. Their orthopedist is on speed dial.

    I never felt judgy towards anyone until recently. But I have many teachers in my life and a few live very unhealthy lifestyles. I find myself resentful that their health insurance is largely paid by the taxpayer.

    • #15
  16. BrentB67 Member
    BrentB67
    @BrentB67

    Annefy:

    BrentB67:Dear Gov. Christie,

    Were cigarette labels printed with warnings regarding their hazards? I assume your mother was literate.

    I am sorry she was stricken with cancer. She is entitled to all the chemotherapy, radiation, and treatment she and the rest of your family can afford and are willing to pay for.

    Respectfully, I would like to keep my money to pay for my family and we will pray for yours.

    R,

    BrentB67

    On shaky ground that as a society we are not capable of dealing with. Should my obese friends only get the healthcare they can directly pay for? Eating is a choice and the risks of obesity are known.

    Should anyone who rides a motorcycle get only the healthcare they can afford due to an accident? We all know riding a motorcycle is risky.

    Yes, to all of your questions. KH in #12 makes the very good point that if we expect government to used funds confiscated from us to pay for our healthcare every dollar comes with a chain attached.

    The motorcycle example is a great one. As long as there is EMTALA, and federal medical welfare i.e. Medicaid, etc. there should be helmet laws given the cost of level 1 cranial trauma treatment.

    • #16
  17. Yudansha Member
    Yudansha
    @Yudansha

    BrentB67:

    Vance Richards:

    BrentB67:Dear Gov. Christie,

    Were cigarette labels printed with warnings regarding their hazards? I assume your mother was literate.

    I am sorry she was stricken with cancer. She is entitled to all the chemotherapy, radiation, and treatment she and the rest of your family can afford and are willing to pay for.

    Respectfully, I would like to keep my money to pay for my family and we will pray for yours.

    R,

    BrentB67

    Be it cancer or drug addiction, of course people should get help. But why should the taxpayers be the ones paying for it?

    Exactly

    It has been truly said; wealth transfer through taxation is not the equal of compassion – it’s the opposite.  One does not accrue “theological brownie-points” for paying one’s taxes.  One simply gets to stay out of jail.

    That being said, any society having any claim to being Just and Compassionate, will have institutions that exist for this very purpose.  It’s no coincidence that most hospitals have a religious… um… genesis.  You want to be compassionate?  Write a check to the hospital of your choice.  They have indigent care programs that take private donations.

    • #17
  18. Karen Humiston Member
    Karen Humiston
    @KarenHumiston

    I think part of the reason we are responding in different ways to Christie’s comments is that we are hearing it through different filters.  Brent and Vance hear his words as a prelude to a government shakedown.  Mona hears it as a moralistic and disingenuous lecture.  And because of my family experience, I simply heard it as a plea for compassion and greater understanding — not necessarily a call for government funding.  (We paid out of pocket for our son’s rehab.)  We all seem to disagree, but I suspect that if we sorted all that out, each of us has good points.

    • #18
  19. Spin Coolidge
    Spin
    @Spin

    I think that we fail to realize the fundamental difference between smoking or drinking and using hard core drugs.  A person can, and mostly does, use tobacco and alcohol products for long, long times with little daily adverse effects.  Long term, especially with smoking, of course there are health effects.  But for the most people these people wake up, go work, do a good job, come home, spend time with their kids, and in general, live their lives.  The so called drug addicts?  Not so much.  I’ve known a lot of drug addicts in my life.  And I mean the real kind.  I’m talking nieces who turn tricks for drug money.  I’m talking nephews who disappear for months at a time, and only turn up because they’ve been arrested for armed robbery.  These people are heroine and meth addicts.  Their use of these drugs destroys them.  When they are using they cannot function.  A few of my relatives have turned their lives around.  Not one of them has done so because of treatment, yet all of them have gone through it.  I had a conversation with a cousin, who used for literally decades, off and on.  I asked him about what it was like, and how he ultimately got clean.  I won’t go in to details here, but I will say this:  he got clean not because some government agency decided to reclassify how drug addiction is labelled, or because of some social movement to eliminate the stigma of drug addiction.  He got clean because he had people around him who cared enough to kick his butt, and support him, and continue to this day to support him.  He said that drugs still have a hold on him, that will never go away, and it is a daily struggle.

    There is a story that perhaps you’ve heard, and it goes like this:  the little boy is on the beach, and the tide has gone out, leaving thousands of starfish stranded on the rocks.  The boy is grabbing the starfish one by one and tossing them in the ocean.  A man comes by and says “You might as well give up, you can’t save them all.  What you are doing makes no difference.”  The boy plucked a starfish up, tossed it in the water and says “It makes a difference to that one.”  This story is somewhat cliché, and has some obvious problems, but it illustrates to me how the drug addiction problem we face in america will be solved.  Not through some national conversation, or federal program or whatever.  It will be solved one person at a time.

    • #19
  20. Addiction Is A Choice Member
    Addiction Is A Choice
    @AddictionIsAChoice

    When you “medicalize” behavior (and that’s what we’re talking about here: behavior,) you are deferring responsibility. “It’s not my fault! I have a disease!” Baloney! You made decisions, choices, and actions have consequences. Addiction is a choice!

    • #20
  21. Matt Edwards Member
    Matt Edwards
    @MattEdwards

    Mona Charen: Second, the cliché about pro-lifers being indifferent to babies after birth is utterly fictional.

    I believe that is usually used in the context of the death penalty. Which conservatives are more often in favor of over the left. So I wouldn’t call it fictional. There are even bumper stickers touting it.

    • #21
  22. Spin Coolidge
    Spin
    @Spin

    Addiction Is A Choice:When you “medicalize” behavior (and that’s what we’re talking about here: behavior,) you are deferring responsibility. “It’s not my fault! I have a disease!” Baloney! You made decisions, choices, and actions have consequences. Addiction is a choice!

    Are you speaking as one who has gone through the addiction?

    • #22
  23. billy Member
    billy
    @billy

    These are odd statements coming from a governor who has proposed taxing vaping, the most effective smoking cessation method for long term smokers.

    • #23
  24. Zafar Member
    Zafar
    @Zafar

    Addiction Is A Choice:When you “medicalize” behavior (and that’s what we’re talking about here: behavior,) you are deferring responsibility. “It’s not my fault! I have a disease!” Baloney! You made decisions, choices, and actions have consequences. Addiction is a choice!

    Addiction is a choice, I 100% agree, but is it a choice freely made?

    Why do some people make those choices, when others don’t?

    What drives them onto one path or the other?

    I think it’s worth looking at what drives these choices (a lot of addiction starts off as self medication of some sort or other) rather than just saying ‘its a choice’ and leaving it at that.

    • #24
  25. Karen Humiston Member
    Karen Humiston
    @KarenHumiston

    Hmmm . . . Mona, after reading some of these posts, I wonder if it’s true that Christie was making a straw man argument.  Apparently there ARE a lot of people who think that is addiction is a choice and that addicts get what they deserve.  Very depressing.

    People sometimes put themselves at risk of addiction because of poor choices.  And sometimes, they are victims of irresponsible doctors.  But no one chooses to be an addict.

    • #25
  26. Addiction Is A Choice Member
    Addiction Is A Choice
    @AddictionIsAChoice

    Zafar:

    Addiction Is A Choice:When you “medicalize” behavior (and that’s what we’re talking about here: behavior,) you are deferring responsibility. “It’s not my fault! I have a disease!” Baloney! You made decisions, choices, and actions have consequences. Addiction is a choice!

    Addiction is a choice, I 100% agree, but is it a choice freely made?

    Why do some people make those choices, when others don’t?

    What drives them onto one path or the other?

    I think it’s worth looking at what drives these choices (a lot of addiction starts off as self medication of some sort or other) rather than just saying ‘its a choice’ and leaving it at that.

    Interesting questions all! And, yes, to a previous, I have had some experience in this regard. For me, there is no need for 12 steps, all that’s necessary is 3 little words: Stop the behavior!

    • #26
  27. Spin Coolidge
    Spin
    @Spin

    Zafar:

    Addiction Is A Choice:When you “medicalize” behavior (and that’s what we’re talking about here: behavior,) you are deferring responsibility. “It’s not my fault! I have a disease!” Baloney! You made decisions, choices, and actions have consequences. Addiction is a choice!

    Addiction is a choice, I 100% agree, but is it a choice freely made?

    Why do some people make those choices, when others don’t?

    What drives them onto one path or the other?

    I think it’s worth looking at what drives these choices (a lot of addiction starts off as self medication of some sort or other) rather than just saying ‘its a choice’ and leaving it at that.

    Ive never met a person who decided to be an addict.  They decided to use drugs, for whatever reason, thinking they would not end up where they ended up.  But they did not choose to become an addict.  That’s just nonsense.

    • #27
  28. Spin Coolidge
    Spin
    @Spin

    Addiction Is A Choice: I have had some experience in this regard.

    What experience, pray tell?

    • #28
  29. Zafar Member
    Zafar
    @Zafar

    Addiction Is A Choice:Interesting questions all! And, yes, to a previous, I have had some experience in this regard. For me, there is no need for 12 steps, all that’s necessary is 3 little words: Stop the behavior!

    Lol! So severe!

    So – I also have a “history” and I also just stopped.  So I absolutely do not buy this ‘it’s the druuuuug’ hoo haa.  Baloney!  In the end you take the drug and then you don’t take the drug or you keep taking the drug – that’s what it comes down to.

    Now: I was able to stop, which was great for me.  But I have friends who haven been able to, and have utterly utterly destroyed their lives.  So rather than medicalise it – which I think is well meaning but ultimately counterproductive – I think it really is a good idea to sit down and ask (respectfully):

    • Why are you using this?
    • What does it give you that you aren’t getting otherwise?
    • Why are you not getting that otherwise?
    • How do you think you can get this without paying the price you are?
    • What is standing in your way from making that change?

    .

    Which are all questions about “you”, which imho is where the focus should be.  The drug (or gambling etc.) is a tool not a cause.  How one’s addiction affects other people is similarly a side effect, not a driver.

    I’ve never met an addict who was happy to be addicted.

    • #29
  30. Zafar Member
    Zafar
    @Zafar

    Spin:Ive never met a person who decided to be an addict. They decided to use drugs, for whatever reason, thinking they would not end up where they ended up. But they did not choose to become an addict. That’s just nonsense.

    To stop taking drugs being a junkie is a decision.  And not deciding is also a decision.

    • #30

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