I've always been on the fence about New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. That he’s Republican obviously rubs me the wrong way, but it never bothered me that he shot from the hip in answering dumb or insulting questions. I don’t mind people not suffering fools gracefully.
And I appreciate that he seems to be a pragmatist. He worked with the Anti-Christ, I mean, the Democratic President, in order to obtain aid for his storm-stricken state, and then had the audacity to thank him for his help and appear appreciative. That took courage, in this age of hyper-partisanship, but he thought it was the right (and obvious) thing to do. He’s been at odds with the rest of the Republicans ever since. In my book, that means he’s been doing something right.
But as far as I’m concerned, this latest controversy changes all of that. If you haven’t heard, emails have surfaced that show that his top-level staff approved shutting down three of four lanes on a bridge leading out of Fort Lee, NJ. It was an action meant to punish the Democratic Mayor of Fort Lee, who had refused to back Christie’s re-election, and as follows, the voters who backed the Mayor.
The resulting traffic jam tied up the bridge for hours and delayed emergency service crews as well. It was a total four-alarm clusterfuck. When the Mayor called in to pursue a solution to the tie-up, he was intentionally ignored, and then mocked through emails.
The email trail shows that this absolutely happened as is being reported. There is no backing down or spinning it. There are too many emails, and they don’t lie.
This activity confirms worst our fears about politicians; that We the People are nothing but faceless blobs to be manipulated in pursuit of consolidating power and punishing rivals. It’s telling that no one cared about the thousands of people being clock-blocked and delayed. It was more important to send a message to the Mayor of Fort Lee. It makes you long for the days when they just sent a dead fish wrapped in newspaper.
Christie apologized on Thursday, and fired the staffers involved, but his apologies ring false. A staff operates under the culture of the office. If they knew the Governor would be shocked and appalled by their actions, they wouldn't take those actions. If the purveying sentiment were that we never stoop to political payback, there wouldn't be any. Being shocked and appalled after the information leaked is not the same.
Even if the idea was originated by the Chief of Staff, and the Governor truly didn't know what was going on, you still have to blame the Governor. It’s His Guy, and His Guy knows what the Governor would want done. In fact, it would be his job to ensure it stays away from the Governor. If he thought his boss truly didn't want his opponent screwed with, he wouldn't have done it. It wouldn't be in his personal or professional interest to do something contrary to his boss’s wishes.
The office culture is set from the top down. If the boss is a choirboy, you’re going to have a staff of people who act like he does, because they risk their job if they don’t. If the boss is down with ratfucking his enemies, they won’t think twice about doing the same.
Therefore, this scandal is 100% Chris Christie’s fault and he should bear the brunt of the political (or legal) consequences.
Perhaps the Mayor of Fort Lee should tie up the line in the State House cafeteria.