Tag Archives: Chris Christie

Mr. or Mrs. President?

…..And They’re Off

America’s presidential sweepstakes have begun in earnest. Ted Hillary_Clinton_Cruz, Rand Paul, Marco Rubio, and Hillary Clinton have all announced their intentions, with the likes of Jeb Bush, Scott Walker, Paul Ryan, Chris Christie, and Rick Santorum all trying to figure out when the most opportune time for them to throw their hat in the ring. There’s one thing they all have in common, though. They’re “major party” candidates.

This means they’re somehow entitled to at least one news cycle’s worth of analysis about everything from whether and how they can win, to profiles of their spouses (except Bill Clinton. We know him). The others will get their respective places in the sun when the time comes.

In fact, media coverage of presidential campaigns has become formulaic to the point of numbing the brains of even the most obsessive political junkies. The rest of the population hasn’t yet tuned into the obligatory political spin. This is understandable, given the general election is more than a year away. But still, the form and substance of campaign coverage hasn’t changed much in decades. The reason? Money, pure and simple. The interlocking components of media, polling, and unfettered campaign contributions make starting the horse race early a virtual necessity.

Almost no one asks if the system benefits or hurts anyone, or whether it actually has to be this way.

Do most people in America know the name Jill Stein? It might surprise you to know she too is running for president. However, since she’s not running for the Democratic or Republican nominations, she doesn’t exist. Yet she ran on the Green Party ticket in 2012. Here’s a question for you. Who deserves more coverage, Jill Stein, or the person that finishes dead last in the Republican presidential sweepstakes?

jill_stein

There are those who think the current process of choosing who will lead the most powerful country on the planet is fine, and does not need fixing.

I disagree.

By focusing time and attention almost exclusively on the “mainstream” candidates of the two “major parties”, the media does a disservice to the democracy we say we have. That, combined with the Citizen’s United decision of the Supreme Court, have created a twisted political universe that shuts the average American out. And make no mistake. That’s just how the players in this game want it. All the players, that is, except you.  I’ve long believed that Americans deserved better coverage of presidential campaigns than we’ve come to accept. I’m thinking there might be some simple things just plain folks can do to cut through the clutter.

The most important one is this: Don’t form your opinion of any candidate based on a single source of information.  Compare and contrast candidate coverage from all forms of media, not just radio or television.

As you evaluate those who would be president, be clear about the priorities you have. Is one a higher minimum wage? Ironing out the kinks in the Affordable Care Act? Police brutality? Whatever you care about, candidates for president ought to be speaking out on them. If they don’t, why vote for them?

Is there are candidate or potential hopeful that you’re following? Or is it to early? You tell me.

 

 

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The Bully – Governor Chris Christie?

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.

Chris Christie

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.

Mark Sokolich.Fort Lee.mayor
Mark Sokolich, Mayor Fort Lee New Jersey

Then, on the first day of school, a number of traffic lanes leading to the bridge from Ft. Lee were mysteriously closed.

The bridge to New York City
George Washington Bridge

 

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.

Too bad.

Bring on your comments…

 

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