New Jersey Governor Chris Christie has found that unlikely place where his ambition has collided with his style (or lack of same) and substance.
He’s presented himself on the national stage as a get-things-done, bi-partisan kind of guy. Recent events regarding lane closures at the George Washington Bridge threaten to tarnish that image in front of the nation.
This nonsense should have been easily avoidable for a guy who constantly touts his political skills. The long and short of it is as follows.
Last September, when Christie was preparing to bury the Democratic challenger to his re-election, he solicited (maybe sought, maybe coerced) support from Democratic elected officials.
Among them was the mayor of Fort Lee (NJ), the town from which the George washington Bridge crosses into New York City.
That mayor, Mark Sokolich, declined Christie’s entreaties.
Then, on the first day of school, a number of traffic lanes leading to the bridge from Ft. Lee were mysteriously closed.
This set off hours of monstrous delays that lasted several days. Mayor Sokolich was apparently stonewalled when he tried to get answers as to the reason for the closures, and when things would get back to normal. The governor’s “people” on the Port Authority, which oversees the bridge, trotted out the rationale that the closures were part of a traffic study.
Christie, meanwhile, treated questions about the bridge lane closures as an unwarranted intrusion on his time. At one point he jokingly told reporters that he himself moved the cones to close the lanes. Little by little, however, things got serious. First, there was the revelation that there was no traffic study. Then, Christie’s brusque denials aside, the public began to see how far up the food chain the conspiracy to close the lanes went.
That culminated in the release of e-mails showing that top members of Christie’s staff did in fact devise the lane closures as political retaliation for an endorsement not made. This was done in collusion with a couple of Christie appointees to the Port Authority, a couple of whom are no longer there.
On Wednesday, Christie the Bully issued a typically political, “this is unacceptable” statement. On Thursday he’ll meet the media in a classic exercise in damage control from this self inflicted wound.
All of which totally misses the point.
The real question is how a bi-state government agency abuses its patrons on such a grand scale? The Port Authority has long been seen as a refuge for political hacks. These latest revelations reveal it to be a nest of vipers as well.
Sadly, when all the legislative hearings are done and the damage to Christie 2016 assessed by multiple media, the issue of getting rid of agencies that abuse their power will not be seriously addressed.
Bring on your comments…