Tuesday, January 14, 2014

The Jersey Follies

A couple things about me: first, I was born and raised in New Jersey and know a thing or two about its politics, and second, I've worked in grass-roots politics enough to have developed a healthy practical paranoia.  Those give me an interesting perspective on the current flap about Governor Christie.

For one thing, Joisey politics have always been crooked -- not on a par with NYC's old Tammany Hall, and certainly not a patch on Daley Machine Chicago, but crooked enough.  The epicenter of that corruption, though, was never the state-house so much as it's chief industrial city, Newark.  Note that the media, which have been pro-Democrat since the 1970s, cheered lustily when the Newark elected a Black (see how liberal we are!) Democrat (of course) mayor, but did their best to look the other way when he turned out to be as crooked as a sidewinder, a druggie, and was finally ousted.  None of this made national headlines. 

Now Christie, in fact, has led a more honest government than most -- but the national media are jumping all over his supposed involvement in, if you please, closing two lanes of traffic into a minor city whose mayor (being a Democrat) refused to support Christie's run for re-election.  This rather suggests that the media are every bit as crooked as Joisey politics ever were.

Christie himself reminds me of a president of the garbagemen's union: not too concerned with legalities or political niceties, but devoted to the well-being of His People.  He was quite willing to shake Obama's hand and take federal help in rebuilding the Jersey shoreline after the hurricane, regardless of what GOP ideologues wanted.  His total practicality is, in fact, what endeared him to voters both inside and outside New Jersey.  He was, as TIME magazine noted, the leading contender for Republican candidate in the next presidential election.  With Rand Paul -- possibly the last Libertarian left in the Republican party -- as VP candidate, Christie could readily have won against the obvious Democrat candidate, Hillary Clinton.  The Democrats had to do something to deflect his rising star, which explains the media's furious hyping of the lane-closing story.

Now think: even if Christie knew about the plot by his staff, or even if he ordered it, is causing a traffic jam in a minor city (how many of you out there had ever even heard the name of Fort Lee before this?) a sin the equal of, say, selling military rifles to rebels in Iran (Reagan), burglarizing a hotel to spy on another political party's strategies (Nixon), lying to Congress (Clinton), or not providing protection to an embassy (Obama) so that staff members were killed?  This is an obviously politically-motivated hype.

And it's quite possible that Christie is innocent of knowing what his underlings were up to.  He's a knowledgeable enough politician that the Fort Lee mayor's refusal of help wouldn't have bothered him.  He would have passed that off as a minor annoyance, to be punished by no more than withholding political plums from the mayor or his Democrat cronies.  The one city in New Jersey -- Newark -- whose support really counted, Christie already had (not to mention others from Bayonne to Paterson).  He wouldn't have bothered to risk such an easily-exposed dirty trick on Fort Lee.  No, it would take a smaller mind to pull such a petty vengeance on such a petty target.

In fact, I wonder about Christie's staffers who actually did pull off the dirty trick.  After years of working beside Christie, they should have known better too.  So why did they do it?

Here's where my political paranoia cuts in.  What if they were secretly suborned into it by the Democratic National Committee?  Heaven knows, the DNC has enough money to bribe a mere state official or two -- and it certainly has motive to torpedo Christie.  The bribe would have to be big enough to cushion the staffers' fall after Christie found out about the dirty trick and fired them, so I think we can learn the truth by following those disgraced staffers and seeing what jobs they get as soon as they're out of the limelight.

Goddess knows, we've seen such political scams pulled before!

--Leslie <;)))><   )O(  



Anonymous said...

I don't really think Christie poses a threat to the Democratic candidate in '16. He's 'way overweight, which is a big no-no right there, as well as too "blue state" to get the GOP base fired up. This might be more like the screwup where Thomas Becket got killed because some knights took some angry words from Henry II more seriously than they were meant.

And the media has been about 95% pro-Democrat since long before the '70s. They fell into oogly lurrve with FDR, and never got over it or him; when JFK came along, they were so much in his camp that if he'd shot a man just to watch him die, they'd have rhapsodized about the grace and skill he'd shown and the good taste he had in personal weapons. Had JFK been a GOP pol, they'd have been all over him for the PT-109 screwup (take it from me; I've been around boats a LOT and I can't figure out how he got himself T-boned by a destroyer unless he was criminally negligent) his father's murky associates, and so on and so forth. Compared to how JFK's White House operated, Nixon was squeaky clean...but he was GOP and they'd never forgiven him for things like the Alger Hiss case.

Paradoctor said...

You can sell arms to the nation's enemies. You can boink women left and right. You can be a senile fraud or a dry drunk. You can be or do any of these things and still be elected President twice. But don't you dare create a week of four-hour traffic jams! Americans take their commute seriously! And if you do anything that stupid, then DON'T WRITE AN EMAIL PROVING YOU DID IT!

"Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee"?! His chief of staff wrote that out loud in a email? Where did he get these people? The voters might tolerate corruption if it's competent; but this was incompetent corruption.

And what was this all about anyhow? Petty revenge on a mayor for not endorsing? Taken out on schoolkids and workers? Ew. I actually prefer Maddow's theory; that the day previous Christie was boiling mad at the Democratic caucus (judge appointment squabbles) and Ft. Lee was the district of the head of the D caucus.

Then there's the theory that the three lanes in question were the direct bridge access for a new gigabuck development project; the mayor's signature achievement; and that this was a way to force the gigabuck loan to go through the right hands.

That's three theories right there, and we don't know which is true, so let's investigate them all! And so Joisey will be treated to some bright media-light; which spells trouble for Christie. If the scandal had been worse but clearer, then the governor would be better off than he is now.

That said... it's not over til it's over. A scandal? So what. We all knew well, long before they were elected, that Nixon was a crook and Reagan a senile fraud and Clinton a horndog and Junior a dry drunk; but they won twice anyhow.

President Christie the thug and bully? Ew. A perfect tool for the 0.01%. Call this scandal a preview.

Paradoctor said...

Your subornment theory is interesting; but saying Christie didn't know does not put him in a good light; it trades viciousness for incompetence, and his whole appeal is that he's competently vicious.

Leslie Fish said...

Heheheheh! Good theories, all. No, I think it's quite possible that Christie's aides could sneak something past him; any govt. bureaucracy works in such a fog of paper that you could sneak a horse and cart through it. I don't think Christie is the incompetent (or crook) that his aides are. Christie would certainly have had the sense NOT to leave an email proving he did the dirty, and I have to wonder why -- or if -- his aides were.

President Christie as a thug and bully? Maybe not such a bad idea, considering who and what some of America's enemies are. I'm thinking, again, of that president of the garbagemen's union, who was likewise a big of a thug, but wouldn't let any harm come to *his* people. Goddess knows, he'd do better than Hillary -- who's been caught in public sneering at Constitutional restraints on federal politicians.

Paradoctor said...

The trouble with admiring thuggery as such is that there's no floor. It might start as thuggery for a good cause, but it's sure to turn into thuggery for a bad cause, and then even worse, thuggery for its own cause.

Paradoctor said...

The trouble with admiring thuggery as such is that there's no floor. It might start as thuggery for a good cause, but it's sure to turn into thuggery for a bad cause, and then even worse, thuggery for its own cause.

Leslie Fish said...

Aren't term-limits marvelous!