Sunday, January 12, 2014

Christie the Vi(ndi)cti(ve)m

If Governor Chris Christie thought that Thursday's news conference, that turned into a two-hour fiasco of alternately blaming others and apologizing without remorse, was going to be the end of the story about the GWBridge lane closures, then he was clearly mistaken. As usual with a scandal, the more we know, the more we want to know.

For example, who actually texted David Wildstein that they were smiling at the traffic jam? This is going to be interesting because presumably it wasn't Bridget Anne Kelly, the Christie aide who went from loyal and brilliant early in the week to "stupid" and "deceitful" at the press conference. And speaking of Kelly, why didn't Christie speak to her before firing her? What kind of prosecutor assumes guilt first and worries about whether they're being just later? Answer: A prosecutor like Christie who obviously doesn't care about the truth.

Questions about Christie's political future are also a main topic, as this scandal shows that he either doesn't have control over his own aides, or that he sent a message to them that this was politically acceptable behavior. In any case, this has severely damaged his national reputation. Conservatives were always wary of him; now moderates might be scared off by a man who has been resolute in the past, but just might have spilled over into vindictive in the national mind.

But the worst aspect at this point is that mayors from across New Jersey are now reviewing events of the past year and wondering if the negative attention they've received from Trenton is a result of them not endorsing Christie or running afoul of him because they disagreed with his decisions. This is the atmosphere that the governor has created for himself. Yes, his YouTube videos were entertaining for his supporters, but they are now a liability because, together with this scandal, they show a man who has no tolerance for opposition. That's dangerous for a man who wants to be president.

It will be interesting to see what new information comes out about this and whether the narrative as we imagine it today has more moving parts to it.

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