Middlesex County News

Amid Trump's Garden State Vacation, Rutgers Professor Blasts Anti-Jersey Jokers

Brian Murphy, a Rutgers professor, defended New Jersey this weekend in a national column. Credits: Rutgers University

NEW BRUNSWICK, NJ — Rutgers University may tout its global reach, but this weekend one of its professors went to bat for its Jersey Roots.

Brian Murphy, a history professor and director of the Honors College at Rutgers' Newark campus, wrote a column for Politico Magazine on the Garden State, its presidential history and its rich—if often mocked—culture.

The sharp-tongued story didn't come without provocation.

Sign Up for E-News

National media began throwing jabs at New Jersey after news of President Donald Trump's two-week vacation in Bedminster, down the road in Somerset County, hit the airwaves. Most notably, the Boston Globe tarred the state, labeling it “the land of spray tans” and quoting befuddled public officials who couldn't imagine why anyone would turn their cheek to the pricey and exclusive shores of New England. The piece was just one of several condescending attacks on Jersey in the press and social media.

But Murphy wasn't having it.

Channeling anger expressed by many New Jerseyans on Twitter, Murphy quickly noted the state's long history as a presidential getaway. He counted James Garfield, Ulysses Grant, Chester Arthur, Benjamin Harrison, Rutherford Hayes, William McKinley, Franklin Pierce, James Buchanan, Abraham Lincoln and, of course, Woodrow Wilson among the nation's leaders who once vacationed here.

The Scarlet Knight history buff also listed some of the state's impressive history. John Philip Sousa, he noted, wrote the “Congress Hall March” after playing a week of concerts in 1882 with the Marine Corps Band in Cape May.

Yet perhaps the most powerful part of Murphy's takedown centered not on academics and history, but on his own Jersey grit.

He wrote that he believes Trump is breaking norms and undermining faith in institutions and “probably doesn't really deserve a vacation” based on his lack of accomplishments.

“But the idea that a president vacationing in New Jersey is itself a sign of national decline? Please spare me,” Murphy added.

“The real point [the Boston Globe writers] are making isn't really a historical one about presidential travel,” the Paterson native said. “Instead it's about how exclusive some of these past retreats have been.”

The problem outsiders have with New Jersey, Murphy argues, is that it isn't etched into the American consciousness as some ritzy, glamorous hideaway. Its “beautiful state parks” and public beaches are affordable and often easily accessible, he said. Diners can opt for high-end seafood dishes or a greasy cheese steak, and they can put 'em down while binge-watching “The Sopranos,” one of TV's all-time greats.

And Murphy's opinion on spray tans, muscle shirts and the MTV show “Jersey Shore” and its cast? No biggie. Most of them are from out of state anyway.

TAP Into Another Town's News:

You May Also Be Interested In

Sign Up for E-News

South Brunswick-Cranbury

Police Blotter

South Brunswick and Cranbury Police Blotter

August 9, 2017

Sponsored by Reilly's Collision Center in Monmouth Junction. Click here and scroll down for the latest updates and alerts from South Brunswick and Cranbury Police.

See the most recent messages from South Brunswick Twp Police Department, powered by Nixle.

Rutgers voices support for proposed state budget

March 14, 2018

NEW BRUNSWICK - Rutgers University officials have often been wary of the governor's annual budget message, wondering what type of budget cuts the university may sustain and how it would potentially impact tuition and the overall quality of education.

This budget message, delivered March 13, appears to be a sigh of relief.

Pete McDonough, Vice President of External Affairs at ...

Middlesex Democrats Endorse Menendez, Pallone, Watson Coleman, Rios and Narra

METUCHEN - The Middlesex County Democratic Organization today endorsed Robert Menendez for Senate, Representatives Frank Pallone, Jr. (NJ-6) and Bonnie Watson Coleman (NJ-12), Freeholder Director Ronald Rios and Freeholder Shanti Narra for the Board of Chosen Freeholders.  Over 300 committee people came out to participate in the convention. 

“From Washington to New ...

Nationally Recognized Golf Management Firm Billy Casper Golf to Oversee Three Middlesex County Golf Courses

CRANBURY - The Middlesex County Improvement Authority (MCIA) has selected innovative golf management firm Billy Casper Golf (BCG) to manage clubhouse operations at Middlesex County’s three golf courses in north central New Jersey.

One of the largest privately-owned golf course management companies in the U.S., BCG will use its proprietary staff training, marketing and other ...

In Cold Blood by Truman Capote

In Cold Blood by Truman Capote (Random House, 1965)


In Cold Blood is, quite simply, the grand-daddy of true crime writing, dubbed by Capote, himself, as the first non-fiction novel (although Norman Mailer argued the point when he published The Executioner's Song in 1979.) The conditions under which I read In Cold Blood for the first time were pretty weird, which was another ...

Ian Hockley Visits New Jersey to Introduce Program to Empower Youth

This week I am taking a departure from book reviewing to share an important program that has been introduced to New Jersey this week by Mr. Ian Hockley, founder of the Dylan's Wings of Change Foundation. On December 14, 2012, Hockley's five year old son, an autistic child named Dylan, was gunned down in his classroom in the Sandy Hook Elementary School shooting. Dylan, a shy and adorable ...


March 16, 2018

WASHINGTON, D.C., March 16, 2018 – Despite her rhetoric, U.S. Rep. Bonnie Watson Coleman, D-12, failed Wednesday to deliver on her promise to make schools safer for our children.

The two-term congressperson was one of only 10 representatives that voted “nay” Wednesday afternoon on the STOP School Violence Act of 2018.

The bill passed the U.S. House of Representatives on a ...

Republican congressional candidate Daryl Kipnis For Congress Campaign Kickoff Reception

Come enjoy an evening on Farrington Lake in North Brunswick in support of the effort to elect Daryl in NJ’s 12th Congressional District and send A Force For Freedom to Washington.

*Dinner & Open Bar*

7-9 p.m.

Monday, April 9th, 2018
130 Washington Place
North Brunswick, 08902

$100 Ticket Price
$250 Silver Sponsor
$500 Gold Sponsor
$1,000 Platinum Sponsor
$2,700 ...

Celebrate National Ag Day at the Middlesex County EARTH Center

EARTH CENTER, NORTH BRUNSWICK, NJ - Consider this: just about everything we eat, wear and use comes from agriculture. That is why America’s farmers and their crops are celebrated each year on National Ag Day, which falls this year on March 20.


To honor this day, the Rutgers Cooperative Extension of Middlesex County has planned a new seminar entitled The State of ...