The XX Factor

What Did N.J. Gov. Christie Really Mean by “Going Down Tonight”?

EXETER, NH - JANUARY 08: New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (C) speaks as republican presidential candidate former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney (L) and U.S. Sen. Kelly Ayotte (R) (R-NH) look on during a rally at Exeter High School on January 8, 2012 in Exeter, New Hampshire. With days to go before the New Hampshire primary, Mitt Romney is making a final campaign swing through the state. (Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

I can see how Rachael and Ann Althouse disagree with me on what, exactly, N.J. Gov. Chris Christie meant when he told some female hecklers “something’s going down tonight, sweetheart.” As many have pointed out, “something’s going down” can mean “something’s happening.”

But I don’t buy this interpretation of events for some simple reason: What was happening “tonight”? The debate was over; the primary was still two days away. If he wasn’t making an oral sex joke, then his “zinger”—which was such a hit with his audience!—makes  no sense.

Moreover, absolving Christie of the oral sex joke ignores his deeply condescending use of “sweetheart” as a pejorative. I suppose Christie supporters are ignoring that part because it’s indefensible.