Governor Christie Sinks

After having many positive views of New Jersey Governor Christie mainly because he seemed like a better kind of politician, maybe being someone the public could actually trust, I now see him as just another untrustworthy, dishonest politician.

As a political junkie I have followed very closely the whole bridgegate scandal. Today I closely listened to the two-hour press conference Christie held.

Despite all his apologizing, Christie looks absolutely terrible to all those with critical thinking capabilities.

First, though he fired his deputy chief of staff because she lied about her action as shown in an email wherein she triggered the action to close lanes on the New Jersey side of the George Washington Bridge, he did not come close to saying she was also fired because of what she did. He was “saddened” because she lied and was disloyal, and acted stupidly, but not because of what she accomplished. He portrayed himself as a victim, while not expressing authentic guilt over the real victims, those impacted by the traffic gridlock, including school buses and ambulances, not just commuters.

Second, when the lane closings created an enormous amount of gridlock in Fort Lee, New Jersey, causing historic grief and hazards to huge numbers of people, Christie never acted as governor to demand corrective action from the New York – New Jersey Port Authority. He had two political appointees in high positions there, but he never told his senior staff to take action to remediate the problem, despite considerable negative impacts on citizens in his state that he professes to care so much about.

Even when there was considerable public and media noise about all the negative impacts of the lane closings that lasted for four days, Christie never looked beyond the story that the lane closings were a result of some traffic study. What kind of traffic study would ever be conducted on the busiest bridge in the world if it created such a total traffic mess? It is completely irrational to believe that Christie was so dumb as to buy that story, especially because considerable noise was being raised subsequently about a political cause of the bridge problem.

The governor talked a lot about the supposed traffic study, even speculating that perhaps there was a traffic study. But Port Authority officials had already clearly stated publicly that there had been no traffic study. So why keep talking about it?

When his two high level political appointed guys at the Port Authority resigned their high-paying jobs many weeks before yesterday’s disclosures of many incriminating emails why did Christie not make immediate calls to them. Why was he not interested in finding out exactly why they resigned? Why was he still willing to keep believing in the nonsense story about a traffic study? Why did he only focus in his press conference on his high level staff person who triggered the lane closings but not the man who received the email and actually implemented the plan to screw the mayor and people of Fort Lee?

State and probably federal investigations will keep the bridgegate scandal a big media story for some time, as it should be. Christie looks bad. He no longer looks like the kind of trustworthy politician that could be a viable Republican presidential candidate. He has lost me and, I suspect, millions of other independents. When someone in his inner circle who worked for him for five years acts so stupidly to exact political vengeance Christie has a lot more explaining to do. She did not act to please herself. She acted because she thought her action was what the governor wanted. The same goes for the idiot at the Port Authority, who executed the plan that clearly, according to the email, must have been discussed before the email was sent and acted on.

Not only has Christie lost his appeal for higher office, there should be more calls for his resignation from the governorship. He accepts responsibility for all the bad things that resulted from the lane closings. But verbal responsibility is really not all that impressive. More is needed. His willful ignorance of what was going on with at least four of his political appointees should wipe out his political ambitions for higher office. The sad victim and narcissist governor cannot escape his well deserved reputation as a bully. Yes, independents like his straight-talking image, but this bridge scandal demonstrates that Christie is a big loser.

Joel S. Hirschhorn was a full professor at the University of Wisconsin, Madison and a senior official at the Congressional Office of Technology Assessment and the National Governors Association; he has authored five nonfiction books, including Delusional Democracy: Fixing the Republic Without Overthrowing the Government. Read other articles by Joel.