What was thought to be a act of retribution that nobody would question has snowballed into scandal for New Jersey’s governor Chris Christie. For the past couple weeks there have been questions about why were lanes closed on the George Washington Bridge (GWB). These lane closures caused massive traffic jams that lasted for days. At first it was said that the lane closures were for a traffic study, but no one really brought that. So investigations were started. People ended up resigning or were fired. And finally this week, we hit a crescendo moment of Mr. Christie sort of apologizing and blaming his staff and making himself the victim.
What exactly did happen? This is the story that has been pieced together. During his reelection campaign, Mr. Christie wanted to get bipartisan support from the state’s mayors and elected officials. The mayor of Fort Lee, which is at the foot of the GWB, said he wouldn’t support Mr. Christie and then there was that massive traffic jam, which was retribution for not backing him. So far the blame is being put on two of his acquaintances. He is saying that he didn’t know anything about this.
Now… that’s pretty far-fetched. He had to know.
I’m not a fan of Chris Christie. I think he is bully and opportunist. The man was appointed by George W. Bush as US Attorney for New Jersey. Did Mr. Christie have experience as a criminal prosecutor? Nope. He turned the office into a springboard for his future aspirations. He went after all the state’s Democrats and crafted an image as a tough prosecutor who cleaned up New Jersey politics. Any criticism was met with immediate punishment. He challenged Jon Corzine in 2009 for the governorship of the state and won. Mr. Christie used a regular everyday joe image to court the state’s voters. It wasn’t a landslide victory for him. He attacked Mr. Corzine for being a rich guy during the Great Recession and won because of it. As governor, he lied about cost overruns of the ARC rail tunnel to look like a fiscal hawk to the Republican establishment. New Jersey was basically getting a free tunnel from the federal government and Port Authority. He went after the teacher and public employee unions. I can go on and on.
Is the man planning a presidential bid for 2016? Probably. He has the name recognition and people love that phony tough guy image he has. Will this scandal with the GWB damage his chances? This is only a minor dust up. If there’s ever a smoking gun that directly links him to the lane closures then he’s wounded. We’ll see how the rest of the scandal plays out.