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(