|Chris Christie, governor of New Jersey|
Tuesday, January 14, 2014
Chris Christie takes "long way around the barn" in denials
I was reminded of this when Chris Christie went to the podium last week. This was going to be Christie's "Checkers speech," only without the dog. I was going to watch in order to try to spot any telltale signs of guilt. Me and countless others.
We asked ourselves: How would a totally innocent person behave in this situation? Christie, a lawyer by profession, was going to be way too clever to be cornered by a room-full of reporters. What we needed was people with training in asking prosecutorial questions. Christie "worked the clock," blathering and repeating and giving the impression this was a fully adequate mea culpa.
Would a totally innocent person feel the need to spend nearly two hours in front of a gaggle of reporters? A totally innocent person wouldn't have that much to say. A totally innocent person wouldn't feel the need to talk about his "feelings" so much. An innocent person would say in a tight, efficient way that he tried to take the appropriate actions when informed of anything untoward. As for his own lack of guilt, it would be professed in a straightforward way - no need to "take the long way around the barn."
Christie took a couple laps around the barn. As a public servant he should have shown more humility. We don't need chutzpah at a time like this.
Had I known how long the press conference was going to be, I'd be sure to go to the bathroom first. It isn't only New Jersay that is "stronger than the storm," our bladders had to be, also.
The governor is under scrutiny over how the "Sandy money" was spent, in recovery. I guess it was Rand Paul who established the term "Sandy money." Paul is a Kentucky Republican who can't bring himself to get on board with a Northern Republican. Too many "rinos" there.
Of course, the Republicans will rue the day they became perceived as a party associated with the Southern U.S. We're not talking Lester Maddox here, but the South is too small a base and has become too stigmatized given its history of losing.
Northern Republicans have to be whistling past the graveyard a little.
Bigger than life image (yes, bigger)
Christie is the rotund governor who has developed a certain charisma about himself. This story line can take on a life of its own. Beyond competence, or lack of it, we see a politician who is good at getting attention for himself. Instead of being branded a loud-mouthed jerk, he comes to be seen as direct and candid. There is much about Christie the media likes. He wouldn't stand out if he were an ordinary, temperate man with measured views and statements. A two-hour press conference is in line with the kind of visibility he has achieved. An objective view of Christie would cut him down to size.
But the media likes this cartoonish image that makes the governor seem like "Bluto" out of "Popeye." He tells off a constituent who wanted to ask why Christie sends his kids to private school. Then he goes on the "Morning Joe" TV program and respectfully answers the same question, when he's talking with people in his own orbit of anointed movers and shakers. He knows the people with whom he has to cultivate a good feeling. Those people are largely not out in "Flyoverland."
There is much incestuousness among the powerful people out East.
The "Morning Joe" panelists should act like hard-nosed journalists, which they purport to be, and not go out of their way talking about how much they "like" Chris Christie, and how "he's a friend of the show." We need a governor who's a "friend of the people." But that's a problem with Republicans: They have ideas and principles but they don't care about people. Thus Rachel Maddow (on the left) asserts that Republicans see government as "theater," little more. So, we have those "stronger than the storm" TV ads that stroke the Christie family.
Christie is now facing a probe over "Sandy" relief funds. The ad campaign came across as a Christie re-election campaign. Christie was running against Barbara Buono, the Democrat who knew she'd have powerful machinery aligned against her. Once you get used to pronouncing her name - not quite like Sonny "Bono" - you have to admire her grit in the face of Christie's bigger-than-life political persona and snowballing momentum.
Buono is among the many critics turning up on TV now. I'm not sure she's a "friend" of the "Morning Joe" panelists (of Joe Scarborough), but why in heck should she be? She's up against a "show business phenomenon" as much as anything. The fat and loud-mouthed Christie has an image that the media have deemed interesting and engaging. Competence, meanwhile, is off to the side. "The show must go on."
Bridge episode becomes scandal
Eventually, shortcomings in competence do show themselves. So, we come to the notorious bridge closing episode. Teeming commuters cross the George Washington Bridge. September 9 was the first day of school for New Jersey children. The Port Authority closed two of the three access lanes connecting Fort Lee NJ to the bridge. Port Authority officials claimed the lanes were closed as part of a "traffic study." Motorists got ensnarled in maddening delays - an obvious outcome not requiring any "study."
Politics was afoot. I'll repeat the saying I used in connection with our Denny Hecker mess in Minnesota: "What a tangled web we weave, when we practice to deceive."
People are getting sucked into a whirlpool of investigations now. It's far worse than the mayor of New York City using a knife and fork to eat his pizza (LOL). The NYC mayor represents a comeback for liberals. The bridge scandal could give a push to that too. Remember, Republicans don't care about people. Alan Grayson knows how to be blunt about this. He describes the Republican approach to health care as follows: "Don't get sick, and if you do get sick, die quickly."
People need some very real help in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy. It was October 29, 2012, when Sandy devastated New York, New Jersey and a wide swath out East, killing at least 159 people and destroying more than 650,000 homes. The "stronger than the storm" ads avoid any uncomfortable scenes. We see kids building sand castles. We see the Christie family in campaign mode. They are all very well-scrubbed.
The people out there needed as much very real, very direct help as possible. But as we all learn when getting familiar with the political process, "Republicans don't want people to like government." And, "Republicans don't care about people." They see government as an annoyance - an impediment.
The suffering commuters who needed the bridge, were like so many ants underfoot with Christie's national political aspirations. He needed to "run up the score" in his win over Buono. BTW I consider Buono to be a quite attractive woman. Sensitive and thoughtful too. She got burned by the Christie machine, a machine that bit off more than it could chew in trying to hurt Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich.
Bridget Anne Kelly emailed to David Wildstein: "Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee." This is the language of thuggery, reflecting the kind of element that might call on Batman to eradicate. Attention Commissioner Gordon. Fortunately there are regulatory checks and balances in real life.
Right now, it looks like the big bombastic governor is going to be cut down to size. Eventually even your friends will leave you in a situation like this. And you'll be left only with pathetic lap dogs like Rudy Giuliani talking you up. Giuliani should stick with his infomercials. Talk about incestuousness: "Morning Joe" gives Giuliani a platform to spout his knee-jerk partisan nonsense, only because Giuliani is one of those anointed individuals in the East Coast power corridor. Such incestuousness helped pave the way for the financial crisis - too many people with backgrounds at the same Ivy League schools, too intertwined, too back-slapping with each other.
Memo to those people: Those of us out in the Great Plains are just as intelligent as you tinsel-crazed jerks. Steve Kornacki should just report, and not go on and on about how he's indebted to Wildstein, a man who takes the Fifth in court. Wildstein is the Christie-appointed Port Authority executive who ordered the lane closures. When Bridget Anne Kelly emailed "time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee," Wildstein responded "got it."
Would normal, sensible people, the kind of people with whom I mix at the Morris MN McDonald's Restaurant in the morning, ever think of communicating on such terms? And yet we have those unsavory folks on our TV tube, as if they're so (expletive) important and should command our attention.
Putting aside public service
Chris Christie is a magnet for attention with his two-hour press conference. "He doth protest too much," or something like that. Christie is a moderate Republican in a blue state. That in itself creates a jam for him. But his biggest jam was when his operation put aside civility and good sense, forgetting the noble aim of public service in the name of premature presidential aspirations.
It's too early to focus on the presidential stuff anyway. What sensible person would want that job anyway? Better to stay low-profile, so you can choose to eat your pizza with knife and fork and not be pilloried.
"Bluto" (Christie) made his bed, now he can sleep in it. Hang in there, Barbara Buono.
- Brian Williams - morris mn minnesota - email@example.com