Christie is Finished

So, have you heard what’s going on in New Jersey?

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) denied any involvement in a political payback scheme carried out by some of his top aides on Wednesday, saying the whole thing was “inappropriate and unsanctioned.”

“What I’ve seen today for the first time is unacceptable,” Christie said in a statement. “I am outraged and deeply saddened to learn that not only was I misled by a member of my staff, but this completely inappropriate and unsanctioned conduct was made without my knowledge.”

“One thing is clear: this type of behavior is unacceptable and I will not tolerate it because the people of New Jersey deserve better. This behavior is not representative of me or my administration in any way, and people will be held responsible for their actions,” he added.

The emails released Wednesday showed that Christie’s deputy chief of staff, Bridget Anne Kelly, deliberately plotted to wreak havoc on Fort Lee, N.J., once it became clear that the borough’s mayor, Democrat Mark Sokolich, wasn’t going to publicly back Christie in his reelection bid.

“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 officials at the Port Authority, which is run jointly by New York and New Jersey. Wildstein resigned last month.

Actually, it gets worse:

The emails point to clear political motives for the closures, and the officials seem almost giddy at the problems they create.

At one point, Wildstein received a text message from an unknown sender — the emails are partially redacted — saying, “Is it wrong that I’m smiling.”

“No,” replied Wildstein. When the other person added, “I feel badly about the kids. I guess,” Wildstein reminded them that their parents are probably Democrats anyway.

“They are the children of Buono voters,” said Wildstein, referring to Democrat Barbara Buono, who unsuccessfully challenged Christie in the Nov. 5 gubernatorial election.

There’s more:

Emergency responders were delayed in attending to four medical situations – including one in which a 91-year-old woman lay unconscious – due to traffic gridlock caused by unannounced closures of access lanes to the George Washington Bridge, according to the head of the borough’s EMS department.

The woman later died, borough records show.

In at least two of those instances, response time doubled, noted EMS coordinator Paul Favia, who documented those cases in a Sept. 10 letter to Mayor Mark Sokolich, which The Record obtained.

Chris Christie is a vindictive control freak. There is not one single person in New Jersey who believes him when he denies having known about this. There is no way very senior people in the administration cooked this up and executed it without his knowledge. If concrete evidence turns up that he did know, then he will be forced to resign. Regardless, he will not be a serious Presidential candidate in 2016. He is just another in a long line of potential Republican Party saviors who has crashed and burned. Good riddance. He’s a terrible human being and, more importantly, a terrible governor of New Jersey.

Incidentally, traffic on the George Washington Bridge is really bad under normal circumstances. It’s one of only three crossings between Northern New Jersey and Manhattan (the other two being the Lincoln and Holland Tunnels.) I grew up in central New Jersey, and periodically we would want to drive into New York. It was all but unthinkable that we would take the bridge.

It is hard to imagine the depths of depravity that it takes to undertake something like this. Or to joke about hurting kids on the grounds that, statistically speaking, most of their parents voted for the other candidate. It’s equally hard to imagine seasoned political pros forgetting the first rule of e-mail: Never put anything in an e-mail that you would not be happy to see made public.

Comments

  1. #1 Larry
    NC
    January 9, 2014

    Christie is a jerk and a bully. I would love five minutes alone with him.

  2. #2 Lenoxus
    January 9, 2014

    I’m surprised to see the number of right-wingers out there calling this a liberal media “distraction” from something-or-other instead of disowning Christie as a RINO, which most of the far right had done ages ago. I suppose they realize he was their most electable hope, so it’s hard to see him hurt like this. Indeed, until I’d heard about him publicly berating a schoolteacher for being a schoolteacher, I’d had that same quasi-respect for him that many liberals did. It’s too bad for Republicans that the usual extreme-primary-contest-vs-centrist-general-election thing is particularly extreme for them, so the number of possible candidates able to jump both hurdles is tiny. (A counter-argument to myself: their last guy was Romney, a moderate by virtue of shapelessness. Hmm…)

    Jason wrote:

    It’s equally hard to imagine seasoned political pros forgetting the first rule of e-mail: Never put anything in an e-mail that you would not be happy to see made public.

    Indeed, the sensible way to do something this scummy would have been to limit it to in-person meetings, or at least phone calls. But that would probably have required them to consciously consider their actions as scummy, and their cognitive-dissonance shields were probably too strong.

    My first reaction to hearing about this whole thing was “If they just hated the mayor, why not prank-call him with a throwaway phone, or something? Why punish everyone?” But now I see that the whole point was to punish people, for their votes, or in the instance of hurt Christie-supporters, well, just to exercise power for its own sake.

  3. #3 Kevin
    January 9, 2014

    I believe you are wrong about this ending Christy’s presidential aspirations.

    This will blow over.

  4. #4 G
    January 9, 2014

    One of two things is true:

    Either a) he knew, or b) he didn’t know.

    If he knew, he really is toast, and should probably face criminal charges along with his subordinates. For example criminally negligent homicide for the death of the 91-year-old woman, and criminal conspiracy (the mundane kind, not the Big Spooky kind).

    But if he didn’t know, then it is still true that his subordinates engaged in behavior that demonstrates clear evidence of evil character (or call it sociopathy if you prefer). In which case Christie is shown to be an utterly incapable judge of character for putting them into his administration, and thus someone who cannot be trusted to select persons of good character for a presidential administration.

    The latter is equally damning in terms of his prospects for the presidency. Imagine a vindictive Secretary of State or Director of National Intelligence, in a world bristling with nuclear weapons and infested with terrorist groups. No thanks.

  5. #5 Eric Lund
    January 9, 2014

    If Christie didn’t know about this, it was because he didn’t want to know. I’ll allow this as a possibility, but there is no other plausible way Christie could not have known.

    Christie already had the problem of a political style that works well in New Jersey but doesn’t play in Peoria. Now we learn that senior Christie aides and appointees, if not Christie himself, orchestrated a traffic jam in a municipality where a majority of voters voted for him (although the mayor probably did not). Said municipality is middle class, majority white with a large Asian population. School kids were caught up in this. Old people were caught up in this. Most people don’t like being caught in traffic jams, so they will sympathize with the people of Fort Lee.

    There is also talk coming out of the state legislature of criminal charges, or even impeachment. Christie will find it hard to run for president if he’s under indictment, or if he’s been impeached..

  6. #6 BobFromLI
    January 9, 2014

    Christie, who was the best hope on a very weak bench, is severely wounded. Moving in for the kill too early is a bad idea, however. He could bull his way past this by using those Christian redemption tactics used by many on the right including Vitter and Sanford. This pot needs to simmer. There’s more, I’m sure. Eric @#5, I hope you’re right about impeachment…but I doubt the legislature will do it.

    Question to the cloud: exactly what was the traffic jam supposed to accomplish? BTW..nice on by Maureen Dowd in the NYT http://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/09/opinion/collins-bridge-over-troubled-politics.html?ref=opinion&_r=0

  7. #7 BobFromLI
    January 9, 2014

    Woops…Gail Collins.

  8. #8 Lenoxus
    January 9, 2014

    BobFromLI:

    He could bull his way past this by using those Christian redemption tactics used by many on the right including Vitter and Sanford.

    I think this is in a very different category from a sex scandal, or from the other categories of sin for which Christian redemption can save a Republican, like financial wrongdoing or alcoholism. This was someone screwing over the citizenry for apparently no reason beyond spite. Most Americans would have trouble imagining themselves taking his position, even in the abstract. (Many of us subconsciously experience basic desires for money, sex, drugs, etc while retaining enough self-control to not be complete hypocrites for our anger at our politicians, but few would fantasize “Oh yeah, if I became governor, I would screw people over by jamming their traffic just for the hell of it.”)

    But hey, we could all be surprised. After all, if the behavior of, say, Newt Gingrich wasn’t enough to get him kicked out, I suppose Christie stands a good chance. In fact, I’m pretty sure he’s become my personal favorite GOP prez nominee, since this particular scandal will be so useful to the Democrats in its starkness.

    It’s just occurred to me that another reason politicians often avoid campaigning while remaining in office, besides basic time-management issues, is that they know it’s good to quit while they’re ahead, before either the skeletons come out of the closet, or they feel tempted to create a few new ones.

  9. #9 Eric Lund
    January 9, 2014

    I think this is in a very different category from a sex scandal, or from the other categories of sin for which Christian redemption can save a Republican, like financial wrongdoing or alcoholism.

    I agree with this much, but there is more to it. Politics is often tribal, particularly in Republican circles. Vitter and Sanford were seen as being of the “right” tribe, so they could shrug off their scandals. Ditto Gingrich. Christie was already suspect, for recognizing that full-on Obama hatred is often unproductive (particularly when your state has just suffered a major natural disaster), so he won’t get as much slack.

  10. #10 dean
    January 9, 2014

    The emails point to clear political motives for the closures, and the officials seem almost giddy at the problems they create. … At one point, Wildstein received a text message from an unknown sender — the emails are partially redacted — saying, “Is it wrong that I’m smiling.”

    “No,” replied Wildstein. When the other person added, “I feel badly about the kids. I guess,” Wildstein reminded them that their parents are probably Democrats anyway.

    “They are the children of Buono voters,” said Wildstein, referring to Democrat Barbara Buono, who unsuccessfully challenged Christie in the Nov. 5 gubernatorial election.

    I’m amazed by the brazenness of the action, but stunned that these clowns were stupid enough to put the discussions in email (although I’m glad they were so stupid).
    Do these clowns never learn from past news that nothing put down electronically can be kept out of view? Seriously – how far apart would their offices have to be in order to make it easier to email their gloats rather than walk over and share them in a quick conversation?
    If this is indicative of the brainpower Christie has on hand it would seem there isn’t much to fear.

  11. #11 Aristide
    January 9, 2014

    He is – and rightly so – finished. Nobody is buying into his “I didn’t know” excuses. I`m a republican but this kind of behavior is beyond political parties. It is reprehensible, it is unacceptable and it is unethical. And as far as it concerns some of his staff, it’s probably criminal too.

  12. #12 Art
    January 9, 2014

    This is going to be a very sore point for Cristie because he has based his candidacy on ‘straight talk’ and supporting the common man by making the system work. Leaving citizens stranded in traffic, all suffering, some dying, when the cause of the backup was the work of his staff comes off a callus and egotistical. Inflicting suffering on common citizens in pursuit of political retribution, and laughing about their suffering, paints him as thoughtless, lacking in empathy, sadistic.

    This claim seems particularly well structured and targeted to undercut Cristie’s public image.

  13. #13 Reginald Selkirk
    January 10, 2014

    Regardless, he will not be a serious Presidential candidate in 2016. He is just another in a long line of potential Republican Party saviors who has crashed and burned.

    But who would he be competing against? Where is the potential Republican candidate who is not a jerk?

  14. #14 Lenoxus
    January 10, 2014

    Where is the potential Republican candidate who is not a jerk?

    John Huntsman? I dunno.

    And that’s a strong point. Some right-wingers reading that could try to argue that Barack Obama and Hilary Clinton are “jerks”, but they would be using the word to mean “person I don’t like” (or to be more charitable, “person who is bad and wrong”).

    The simple fact is that the current Republican ideology seems fundamentally driven by Rage Against The Other (“takers”, “illegals”, “gay activists”, etc). This rage is covered by a thin and tattered facade of ideological hatred, “Oh, we just despise socialism”. But at the end of the day it’s much more basic xenophobia and paranoia.

  15. #15 Doug
    January 10, 2014

    There is not one single person in New Jersey who believes him when he denies having known about this.

    Actually, there is at least one.

    There is no way very senior people in the administration cooked this up and executed it without his knowledge.

    I disagree.

    Regardless, he will not be a serious Presidential candidate in 2016.

    I guess it depends on how one defines “serious”, but again, I disagree. I think he will very likely be our next president.

    He’s a terrible human being and, more importantly, a terrible governor of New Jersey.

    Yeah…disagree again.

  16. #16 deepak shetty
    January 12, 2014

    Regardless, he will not be a serious Presidential candidate in 2016.
    In a country that elected George Bush twice, don’t take anything for granted.

  17. #17 G
    January 12, 2014

    Today it was reported that former NYC mayor Giuliani, as well as Rove and Priebus (sp?) are all supporting Christie. Battle lines are being drawn. Popcorn will soon be in short supply.

    Re Lenoxious at #8: Newt Gingrich is a textbook case of narcissistic personality disorder. Christie just has an ordinary mean streak, and my “pathology detector” doesn’t register him as a narcissist or a sociopath (key criterion for sociopaths: “charm”). Interesting point about Christian redemption: agreed, that would be a hard-sell for an act of spite.

    One way or another we need a good Republican candidate in 2016. Huntsman is the first one who comes to mind. Christie was promising for a while but this event really takes him out of the running. It’s in everyone’s interest (e.g. liberal Democrats as well as Republicans) to have two strong candidates, because if your preferred candidate doesn’t win, at least we end up with competent leadership.

  18. #18 Science Avenger
    Fort worth, Texas
    January 15, 2014

    The Romney people apparently stumbled onto a lot of stuff like this when they vetted Christie for a possible VP slot, and promptly dropped him like a hot potato. I believe the quote was “if he had run in the primaries, we would have destroyed him”. Look for more to come to light.

    And just another good reason why it’s silly to be talking 2016 now.

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