Why the Chris Christie Bridge Scandal Matters
January 13, 2014


Whether NJ Governor Chris Christie actually ordered the closure of three out of the four outgoing lanes of the busiest bridge in the world is almost besides the point now. I’ll assume you already know the story rather than rehash it here. Last Thursday, Christie held a two hour Mea Culpa where he basically told everyone how betrayed he felt by his staff, all of whom assured him there was nothing to the story of how the 4-day closure of the GW Bridge was supposedly an act of political retribution (against whom? Rachel Maddow seems to have come up with a FAR more plausible target than the mayor of Fort Lee). But here’s the big problem with the governor’s “they lied to me” defense: Christie is a former U.S. Attorney. He earned a reputation as a tenacious prosecutor, a reputation he campaigned on when running for governor in 2009. So how is it that a (supposedly) dogged former U.S. attorney was so easily deceived by his own staff. Christie never asked any follow-up questions? “Who decided we needed a ‘traffic study’ of the George Washington Bridge and why now? Just what did they expect to find?” “Why did they keep it going for FOUR DAYS even after Fort Lee’s Mayor Sokolich contacted them about how emergency vehicles were being delayed?” And most basic of all: “Where is this ‘traffic study’? Can I see it?” Christie’s defense that he had no idea what his own staffers were doing right under his nose hardly lends to his credibility if he plans on running for president in 2016. Not only did he not ask his staffers any follow-up questions, he is PROUD of his disinterest, declaring during his press conference that he “didn’t know and didn’t care why [they] did it.” But trust me, a prosecutor will be asking that question even if former prosecutor Christie does not.

Maybe Christie didn’t know what members of his own staff were doing right out of his own office. I don’t know. But the “political punishment” behavior does fit a pattern, playing right into his reputation as a vindictive “bully”, so if he wasn’t involved, it definitely rubbed off on his staff, who appear to have taken great pleasure in making the lives of Fort Lee commuters miserable for nearly a week.

In June of 2011, NJ gov Chris Christie went on “Caucus NJ”, a local public broadcast radio show (simulcast on TV for the big event) and took questions for nearly an hour. One questioner named “Gail” asked Christie if his willingness to cut funding for public schools might have something to do with the fact that he himself is wealthy enough to send his children to private school and is therefore unaffected by those cuts. Christie, clearly not listening to the woman, viciously attacked her for asking “where” he sends his kids to school, which any parent in his position could reasonably perceive as a threat. But “Gail” never asked Christie “where” he sends his kids to school, only asking if he felt it fair of him to do to her children something that clearly would not affect his own. He continued lambasting her for questioning the extravagance of sending his kids to private school… again, something she never brought up. His supporters cheered Christie’s defense of his children (whom, as I note, were never criticized nor threatened), and to this day I don’t think anyone has ever pointed out to him that he clearly misheard her, attacking her for things she never said, never did answer her very legitimate question, nor did he apologize for attacking someone for his own mistake.

During his two-hour round of damage control last week, the governor denied any involvement in the closure of the bridge, stating that doing something so vindictive for political purposes was not in his nature, actually telling reporters, “I’m not a bully”. The Daily Show had a bit of fun with that one:

The “tone” of the Christie administration (1:11)
[flv:http://www.mugsysrapsheet.com/4blog/video/daily_show-christies_tone-140109.flv http://www.mugsysrapsheet.com/4blog/video/daily_show-christies_tone-140109.jpg 512 288]

“I’m not a bully.” If you’re thinking of Richard Nixon right about now, you’re not alone. Not just for his, “I’m not a crook” moment, but also in the way the circle seems to be closing in on Christie as investigations into top staffers bring us ever closer to the man himself. But the fact is, Nixon was a crook. And Christie also has his share of “shady” backroom deals: “deferred prosecution agreements” with major corporations made while he was still a prosecutor that dogged him while running for office. And last month, Firedog Lake reported on Christie’s stint as a Washington lobbyist, forging connections with some very deep pockets that became major contributors to his gubernatorial campaign a decade later.

The George Washington Bridge Scandal matters because it shines a white hot spotlight on Christie’s two biggest traits: 1) that he’s a bipartisan Republican that knows how to work with political opponents, and 2) that he’s a “schoolyard bully” that likes to (forgive the pun) throw his weight around. Republicans hated #1 and loved him for #2. Democrats, just the reverse. How will this play out in the days/weeks/months to come? Stay tuned.

Writers Wanted

Got something to say? Mugsy’s Rap Sheet is always looking for article submissions to focus on the stories we may miss each week. To volunteer your own Op/Ed for inclusion here, send us an email with an example of your writing skills & choice of topic, and maybe we’ll put you online!

RSS Please REGISTER to be notified by e-mail every time this Blog is updated! Firefox/IE users can use RSS for a browser link that lists the latest posts! RSS



January 13, 2014 · Admin Mugsy · 5 Comments - Add
Posted in: Crime, Election, General, Politics, Scandals

5 Responses

  1. Grant in Texas - January 13, 2014

    Five examples of Christie’s bullying:http://www.care2.com/causes/top-5-instances-of-chris-christie-being-a-bully.htmlThe GOP “running dogs” aren’t saying much about Christie other than “Benghazi, Benghazi, IRS, NSA, etc.” 

  2. Grant in Texas - January 13, 2014

    Maybe the media will stop fawning over Christie now….http://mediamatters.org/blog/2014/01/09/how-the-media-marketed-chris-christies-straight/197500

  3. Admin Mugsy - January 13, 2014

    I like the comparison to the “John-McCain-is-a-Maverick” narrative.

  4. Ebon - January 19, 2014

    Christie is an entirely media created phantom. The media loves his bluster so they pretend he’s been a great governor. He’s actually been a lousy governor, propped up by an adoring, fawning media. What worries me is that I could have said teh same of Reagan. I still think he’ll end up the Republican nominee because the GOP actively LIKES to nominate bullying pricks, they WANT nasty bastards, it’s a plus to them.

  5. Grant in Texas - January 20, 2014

    If it looks like Christie will survive this and if he polls well, the GOP will be overlooking his faults. They don’t hold their “stars” accountable whether Mark Sanford, David Vitter, etc. This morning Mary Matalin on George Stephanopoulos’s “This Week” was complaining about the liberal media making such a big splash to bring down Christie while at the same time down-playing (in her opinion) all of Obama’s “scandals” like the IRS targeting right “charities” and the rest like Obamacare, Benghazi, etc.  Not only has Fox covered these “scandals” 24/7 but the rest of the media has not been holding back, either.  Rep. Darrell Issa spends most of his time in Congress grandstanding to keep his Obamahate in front of the media. 

Leave a Reply