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Sunday, December 4, 2016

Recent weeks have seen a decline in the kinds of abusive reader emails that keep a columnist feeling feisty. It’s a long time since anybody informed me that I’m a cowardly elitist doomed to spend eternity in hell watching NBA games with Barack Obama.

So to stir the pot, here’s a brief selection of heterodox opinions:

**As a New Jersey expatriate — my sons used to call All in the Family “The Man Like Grandpa Show”—people keep asking me what the George Washington Bridge brouhaha says about Governor Chris Christie’s presidential hopes. What hopes? Christie never had a realistic shot at the GOP nomination anyway. He’s merely a noisier version of “America’s Mayor,” Rudy Giuliani.

Christie’s whole act, pointing at people and yelling—not to mention cozying up to Barack Obama—won’t play with GOP primary voters south and west of Trenton. For the longest time, it was impossible to take the bridge thing seriously because nobody could possibly be that petty and stupid. Now that we’ve seen the incriminating emails and heard Christie’s alibi that he was betrayed by disloyal staffers, all that’s lacking is what thriller writers call “the McGuffin”—the ultimate prize these jokers were chasing.

Ultimately, Jersey political intrigue always involves a shakedown. If anybody solves the puzzle, it’ll probably be Steve Kornacki, an excellent reporter who knows the territory even if he does work for MSNBC.

The novel version is Robert Penn Warren’s classic All the King’s Men, even though it’s set in Louisiana in the 1930s.

**Speaking of Louisiana, I wrote a while back that an ill-advised publicity stunt by Duck Dynasty’s Phil Robertson would probably backfire. Condemning gays to hell won him short-term notoriety.

“Longer term,” I wrote, “unapologetic bigots always fade into obscurity, basically because they embarrass people.”

Sooner rather than later, it turns out: Ratings for the show’s season five premiere were down 28 percent from last year.

**As a recovering testosterone addict, Frederic Poag’s Daily Banter article “The Myth of the Good Guy with a Gun: How I was Almost Curtis Reeves” struck me as exactly right.

Curtis Reeves is the Florida ex-cop who shot somebody to death for texting in a movie theater. You pack heat, you’re apt to run into some jerk that needs killing—or so you might think for the two enraged seconds it takes to destroy his life and yours.

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