Even if you live somewhere outside of the tri-state area (New York-New Jersey-Connecticut) you no doubt have heard about the debacle involving members of New Jersey governor Chris Christie’s administration organizing the closure of lanes leading to the George Washington Bridge – the busiest bridge in the world. The reason involves extreme political payback for Mark Sokolich, the democratic mayor of Fort Lee, New Jersey, who had refused to support Christie’s re-election campaign. The fallout will likely mean many heads rolling, perhaps some people going to prison, and the inevitable end of Christie’s political ambitions for a presidential nomination.
If you read the stories in various papers, even the New York Post that usually fiercely defends a Republican on almost any matter, the news for Christie is very grim indeed. Despite his long-winded and rambling defense of his ignorance – and there is no other way to describe his not knowing what was going on – Christie looks incompetent at best and a pathetic liar at worst. Either way his presidential ambitions have hit an iceberg and are sinking faster than the Titanic.
There is some talk of this being a conspiracy, and we always hear of those on one side trying to destroy the people on the other. As politics has become more despicable each year, there is no reason why the American people should not see Washington D.C. as anything more than a warped version of Cutthroat Island. Everyone has a plan, an agenda, and some kind of game plan that is nefarious and right out of the plot of a soap opera.
One does get the sense that Republicans never really bought Christie as the frontrunner. He goes against all the things that the Grand Old Party usually holds dear. He is, after all, a Catholic, of Italian ancestry, comes from the Northeast, speaks his mind, and seems quite independent. In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, some Republicans bristled at Christie meeting with and praising President Obama. How dare he have a mind of his own and thank anyone deemed unworthy in their limited point of view?
Of course, Republican voices no less wacky than Glenn Beck and others have questioned Christie as the choice to go up against Hillary Clinton. Even despite poll numbers (before Bridge-gate) showing Christie as the only potential Republican candidate having a chance to defeat Clinton, guys like Beck were saying demeaning things, including that Christie is a “fat mess.” Obviously, Republicans prefer to run a trim airhead like Mitt Romney whose presidential timber obviously suffered from dry rot.
So did this debacle stem from stupidity, malice, or just the immaturity of a playground mentality that is similar to not getting your way so you take your ball so that no one else can play? If Christie’s people did this without his knowledge it is despicable; if he knew it, that is more than appalling – it is criminal. This means Christie will have more to worry about than losing his presidential ambitions – he may be looking at long lonely days on a prison diet.
Christie came off as contrite in his public apology that went on longer (107 minutes) than that anthropology lecture in your memory of college nightmares. He seemed sincere, honest, but also sort of clueless. There is something so disconcerting here, so unsettling, and that is that Christie’s presidential timber may be as suspect as Romney’s or John McCain’s. Now he is tarnished, damaged goods. His prospects for running for president are history, for if he were to run he would surely lose.
Obviously, more and more information will come out in the days ahead. New documents are being released and stories in various newspapers such as The New York Daily News are tilting negatively and questioning Christie’s apology. The consensus seems to be that Christie was either involved in covering up what his cronies did or just outright lying about his involvement.
The callers and hosts of shows on talk radio and the TV talking heads are eating up this story, not to mention the late-night comics who are having a field day. While these things are giving us a few laughs, the situation is no joke. Lives were put in jeopardy, commerce was disrupted, and a truly pernicious personal vendetta on a bridge named for George Washington resulted in more than inconvenience. This is a case of our worst fears about the abuse of power becoming a reality.
There is a general feeling that Christie has revealed his true colors now. Even if he is as innocent as he claims to be, his staff choices obviously call into question his ability to delegate and to lead. The level of pomposity shown – no matter how high it reaches in Christie’s administration – proves that this is not government for the people but at their expense.
Whatever revelations come, it is over for Christie – the fat lady has sung and left the building. This is it for him, and perhaps he has only himself to blame; however, there are those in his own party who are no doubt silently celebrating his fall. Now they can find someone more suited to their “brand” to go up against Hillary Clinton, which most likely means that Bill Clinton will become First Husband in 2016. That may be the best punishment of all.
Photo credits: Christie-Washington post and daily news; cartoon – luckovichblogPowered by Sidelines