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Thursday, January 9, 2014
Christie In The Crosshairs
Finally! The media have woken up and are focusing on scandals. What took them so long?
If you think I'm referring to the IRS scandal, sorry. That's not it. Is Benghazi on the front page of the New York Times? No. In fact, as we have reported, the New York Times has devoted its resources to aiding the Benghazi cover-up. Fast and Furious? Nope. Are the extra-constitutional actions by the president getting attention? Not that either.
No, it is the traffic scandal currently threatening to engulf New Jersey Governor Chris Christie that has big media celebrating. The media smell the first, faint scents of a possible Republican scandal so, of course, it's on the front page of the Washington Post and leading major news sites. Welcome to "Bridgegate."
Here's a brief summary of the situation: Starting on Monday, September 9th, the first day of school, a top official at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey closed several lanes leading to the George Washington Bridge, the world's busiest bridge, for a "traffic study." This went on for several days, creating horrendous traffic jams in Fort Lee, New Jersey.
Incensed area commuters, local media and politicians immediately began to ask who ordered the study and why? It quickly became apparent that something wasn't right.
By December, a long-time Christie friend at the Port Authority was forced to resign. Now emails have emerged indicating that top Christie officials intentionally created the huge traffic jams to politically hurt the mayor of Fort Lee who refused to endorse Christie's reelection.
The Media's Double Standard
Democrats hope "Bridgegate" will be the end of the Christie for President boomlet. He was already battling the perception of being a political bully. This story only reinforces it.
Ted Kennedy can drive a woman off a bridge and go on to serve decades in the Senate and be hailed as a courageous leader. But if a Republican shuts down a bridge, the left is ready to breakout the pitchforks.
Having said that, this was a really stupid mistake. Gov. Christie's reelection was never in doubt. Polling showed he was up as many as 30 points. He won by 22. Why be so petty and vindictive? The only thing worse than a sore loser is a sore winner.
Christie's operatives wanted to punish the mayor. But to get at the mayor, they went after hard-working New Jersey commuters. Emails show Christie's staffers were callously dismissive about the fact that many children were late for school. After all, their parents may have voted the wrong way. With that attitude, Christie staffers must be auditioning for jobs in the Obama Administration, where punishing citizens who oppose them is commonplace.
Every American has experienced the frustration of traffic gridlock. The idea that any politician would intentionally cause major traffic jams is beyond arrogance.
Because of the plethora of Obama's scandals and Obamacare's failures, Republicans, if they are smart, will make corruption and government reform key issues in this year's campaign and in 2016. But "Bridgegate" puts a major chink in Christie's armor, making him look like just another big city machine politician.
Some have suggested that this is just a minor issue that will blow over quickly. Maybe. But there is now talk of criminal charges. A federal attorney is now investigating.
There were emergencies when these roads were intentionally tied up, and emergency response times doubled as a result of the traffic delays. In one case, an elderly woman lay unconscious waiting for help and later died.
Don't think Democrats won't blame Christie for her death? Think again! Remember the ad Democrats ran blaming Mitt Romney for a woman's cancer death? They will use this incident to make it look like Chris Christie was standing in the road, blocking the ambulance himself!
Governor Christie held a two-hour press conference this morning and profusely apologized to the people of Fort Lee. He admitted he was blindsided by the revelations in the emails from his top staff members. Christie announced that he fired a senior aide for lying to him. He blasted the incident as "stupid" and "deceitful," denied any knowledge of it and took responsibility for falling short of the people's expectations. Obama could learn something from an apology like that.
Christie also announced that he asked Bill Stepien, one of his closet political advisors, to withdraw his nomination to lead the New Jersey Republican Party as well as his consultancy at the Republican Governors Association, which Christie leads. Later today, the governor will go to Fort Lee to personally apologize to Mayor Mark Sokolich and to the people of that community.
This strong performance may be his best defense. But the liberal killing machine couldn't care less how he handles it. As Christie said today, "Politics ain't bean bag."
Obama vs. Christie
Think about this, friends. Christie is being pummeled today because his aides punished New Jersey commuters in retaliation for a mayor not doing what they wanted. Is that really very different from Barack Obama punishing veterans and tourists during the government shutdown because congressional Republicans wouldn't do what he wanted? There is little doubt that the open air memorials and national parks were closed in the hopes that outraged visitors would blame the Republicans.
And while Christie may not be my first choice for chief executive, at least he's acting like one by firing the people responsible. Has Obama fired anyone at the IRS? Has Obama fired anyone at the State Department for Benghazi? Has Obama fired anyone at the Justice Department for Fast and Furious? The answer would be no, no and no.