“What I’ve seen today for the first time is unacceptable. 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.” – Gov. Chris Christie
NEXT WEEK’S inauguration of Chris Christie will be awkward, at the very least. Bridgegate is making the far right giddy, though Sean Hannity started a campaign against Gov. Christie in preparation for 2016, with the Obama hug after Sandy enough to pitch the Republican base against him. There has always been skepticism about whether the hard core base would anoint Christie, even if the establishment see him as a king. Now #bridgegate, as it’s now known on Twitter, threatens Gov. Christie’s brand, his credibility, and his prospects for 2016, according to some.
The written statement released by Gov. Christie is hardly enough, as he went into hiding after all hell broke loose on Monday. Christie fans better hope that Joe Scarborough, whose morning show is the biggest booster for Christie on cable, talked Donny Deutsch into giving him some serious crisis counseling, because a lot is riding on Christie’s next moves.
Whatever image or brand Christie had as the un-politician is history. His aides have been quick fried, deservedly so, because who puts the kind of stuff they did in an email? It’s malpractice. But Christie now has to face that his signature style will never go over as it once did. His straight talk and brusk nature will now be seen quite differently, especially by the press who covers him, which is a dangerous shift for any politician, especially someone like Chris Christie, who obviously has ego and control issues.
Establishment Republicans are mostly unfazed by bridgegate, though the New York Daily News blasted the Thug Guv:
In the best possible light, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie built a top staff of lying thugs who threatened lives and safety to serve his political ends. If not, Christie is a lying thug himself. – Christie’s Waterloo
That’s not a Democrat, it’s Mort Zuckerman’s paper.
Mike Murphy has another take, also in the New York Daily News, as well as on Twitter.
My prediction? The whole thing will blow over. Sure, the media will howl for a week and the mayor of Fort Lee will spend the next two years darkly plotting ways to poison Christie’s good name in New Hampshire. But Christie has already blasted the main chortling staffer in question. The circus will move on. This incident does, however, give us an early peek at the likely dynamics of a Christie for President campaign.
From Politico, a Democrat who thinks the worst is yet to come.
“I think the worst is yet to come,” said New Jersey Democrat Bill Pascrell, who represents the town that was turned into a parking lot last year when some of the bridge’s lanes were abruptly closed for four days. “I don’t think we’ve seen all of it at all. I’m so happy that it’s unfolding slowly, like an onion opening up. You always get more facts that way — not to refer to the governor as an onion, but he’s been referred to as worse things.”
To show how far out the right is today, Rush Limbaugh said the media frenzy over the Thug Guv is all about the press not wanting to talk about the memoir of Robert Gates!
The most effective indictment against what happened out of Gov. Chris Christie’s office came in an interview by Wolf Blitzer with Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich, his first of the day.
“I’m nervous about future retribution,” Sokolich said. “I want Fort Lee left alone.”
The very real issues of abuse of power by Christie’s staff, and the traffic issue impeding EMS responses to the people of Fort Lee, New Jersey is something serious. The human side of what Christie’s office caused is something that all too often gets missed, with everyone fixating on the big shot politician and how he deserves to be taken down.
The cynics say that politicians don’t do anything important, that public service doesn’t matter. The people Gov. Chris Christie hired to handle the state’s business are examples of why people think this is true. Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich is the antidote to the Thug Guv. Sokolich, at the time bridgegate was happening, couldn’t get his calls returned. He openly admitted with Blitzer, and later on other shows, that he’s worried about retaliation now that he’s spoken up. His main concern now is that Gov. Christie apologize to the people of his town who were hurt by what happened.
James Carville gave Gov. Christie some good advice: Show up in Fort Lee and apologize.
Can Gov. Chris Christie be contrite, humble and human, not just throw his staff under his motorcade, as he flies by?
The answer could be mean the difference in where his political trajectory goes next. This very public failure, in leadership alone if nothing else is revealed, and if admitted, could change any politician. Question is if Christie has the character to admit he was wrong, because after all, he hired the people who threw down on Fort Lee, and they had to have some reason to concoct their plan to snarl traffic in the first place and think their boss would think it was okay.