Using harsh terms to attack his critics has been a regular feature of Gov. Chris Christie's 15 months in office, and Democratic officials, wary of his and the voters' wrath, have usually offered only a muted response.
But this week, when Mr. Christie, a Republican, used violent imagery in talking about a Democratic lawmaker - a widowed grandmother, to boot - Democrats saw an opening, criticizing him en masse and demanding an apology.
The episode began at a news conference on Wednesday, when the governor brought up State Senator Loretta Weinberg, a Democrat from Bergen County, who had accused him of hypocrisy. Mr. Christie said Ms. Weinberg was the hypocrite, asking reporters, "Can you guys please take the bat out on her for once?"
There was not much outcry at first, but Ms. Weinberg drew sympathetic news coverage and Mr. Christie's remark lighted up comment pages on news Web sites. Then, on Thursday and Friday, Democrats issued a flurry of statements scolding the governor.
Perez-Pena, whose reporting has not been friendly  to Christie, sniffed:
Mr. Christie's instinct when criticized is generally to counterattack, not explain himself. He has labeled the teachers' union "political thugs," accused other officials of lying, and charged teachers with "using students like drug mules" to carry political messages.
Speaking of violent rhetoric from politicians...a nytimes.com search indicates the Times has yet to even mention last week's case of a Democratic politician from the Northeast, Pennsylvania State Rep. Margo Davidson, making a much harsher comment against a Republican opponent. According to John Baer of the Philadelphia Daily News:
In rendering scenarios in which the new law might excuse the killing of a person perceived as a threat, Davidson stood on the House floor and asked a question that included a reference to the chamber's most conservative member and maybe strongest pro-gun advocate, Rep. Daryl Metcalfe, R-Butler County.
"If the gentleman from Butler County stood yelling, knowing that he's a gun-toter, and I felt threatened, would I be protected under court law if I blew his brains out?"
Amid audible gasps, she then giggled.
A similar incident in the new political hotbed Wisconsin occurred in late February, when Democratic State Rep. Gordon Hintz  told Republican Rep. Michelle Litjens on the Assembly floor, "You are f***ing dead."
The Times has only mentioned it once, and not in print. The paper's online "Opinionator" Tobin Harshaw included the vile remark in an April 4 post , a balanced list of "uncivil" remarks by liberals and conservatives.