Rejoice! Chris Christie Will Never Be President
Photo Credit: AFP
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No one can know the strengths and weaknesses of an elected official as well as his close aides. The official, unintentionally, reveals a great deal about himself when he chooses those aides. It is also the relatively smaller things that are most telling about character. How do the official and his aides react not to moments of crisis but to the routine disappointments inherent in life? How does he routinely use power? What level of empathy do the official and his aides demonstrate in day-to-day life? Does he and do his aides care about all the citizens or only their political supporters?
This week, Governor Chris Christie’s campaign for the presidential nomination blew itself up. The suicide bomb was delivered by Christie’s staff and it was a variant on the same bomb that Mitt Romney triggered to destroy his campaign for the presidency. Putting aside Romney’s vile dismissal of 47% of Americans as supposed freeloaders who take no personal responsibility, his most shameful and revealing phrase was “my job is not to worry about those people.” The job of an elected official, of course, is to worry about all the people regardless of whom they voted for in an election or were even old enough to vote in the election. An official who cannot get that most basic aspect of their job statement correct without hesitation is unfit for any position. He is profoundly anti-American and he cannot honor any oath of office he takes. Romney made clear that he flunked this most basic test.
Christie’s staff has made clear that it flunked the same test. His entire group of aides flunked it after they had seen the disastrous results of Romney’s failure. Recall the remedial humaneness training that the Republican “autopsies” of the 2012 election-cycle recommended? Christie and his team missed the memo, missed the class on empathy, and channeled their inner Mittnasty to lash out at the people of their own state through an act of domestic terrorism. They did not set out to kill and maim, but they did deliberately try to make the lives of tens of thousands of people miserable and they succeeded in doing so. They did so in a manner so reckless that they put lives at risk and may have killed people.
“‘Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee,’ Deputy Chief of Staff Bridget Anne Kelly wrote in an email on Aug. 13.
‘Got it,’ replied David Wildstein, who was then one of Christie's top aides at the Port Authority, which is run jointly by New York and New Jersey.”
The story is so revealing because Christie was not fighting for his political life and no one wronged him in any fashion. Christie wanted to win re-election by an even larger margin and believed that getting the endorsement of an obscure Democratic mayor, Mark Sokolich of Fort Lee, New Jersey, might pick him up a few additional votes. The mayor ultimately did not endorse Christie, but he was not even a minor leader of the politically hopeless effort to elect Christie’s Democratic opponent. Nevertheless, Christie’s staff decided to make an object lesson of Sokolich’s defiance of Christie’s entreaties. They did so by causing massive delays on the George Washington Bridge near Fort Lee, the most heavily used in America. If you missed the logical gap between the last two sentences – the “therefore” we decided to make tens of thousands of peoples’ lives miserable – you are not alone.
It was the gleeful misuse of government power to attack their fellow-citizens and the ethics-free, bigoted, screw people who don’t vote for us attitude of Christie’s lieutenants – followed by their pathetic lies trying to cover-up their depravity that will make their efforts infamous for a generation. People will debate for many years which line made infamous by Christie’s staff is their favorite phrase. The direct analog to Romney’s pronouncement that his job was to ignore the interests of 47% of all Americans is this exchange between David Wildstein, a close friend of Christie who was then one of his top aides at the Port Authority, and Bridget Anne Kelly, a deputy chief of staff to Christie. Sokolich, who had not been informed of the lane closings for the bridge, began the series of exchanges among Christie’s aides when he texted Bill Baroni, the governor’s top appointee at the Port Authority, asking for “help” because the lane closings were making children on buses late to school.: