The fun story for political news junkies this week has been the saga of New Jersey Chris Christie and the great "Bridgegate" scandal. It has come to light that the closing of two key approach routes to the George Washington Bridge in Ft. Lee, N.J. was a political dirty trick, not a necessary move by the bridge's traffic administrators. The result was a massive traffic snarl. The G. W. is the country's busiest bridge. A flat tire in lane four routinely becomes a headline on the six o'clock news. These closings lasted several days, the traffic jam was several miles long with delays of up to six hours! The closings turned out to be the brainchild of one of the Govenor's top aides, who thought it would be fun to harass the mayor of Ft. Lee for not endorsing Christie's re-election bid. Since the mayor is a Democrat and Christie is a Republican, the lack of an endorsement should have been no surprise to anyone.
The Democrat Grievance Machine sprang into action and had a field day attacking Christie. He has been called several kinds of names, most of which involve the theme of "political bully." Since he seems to be the leading challenger to Hillary Clinton's coronation as "Queen in Waiting" for 2016, it is necessary to demean Christie in any way possible. Also, this fiasco played neatly into President Obama's normal routine of obfuscation by providing a timely change of subject away from Obamacare roll-out problems, more Benghazi bad news, and Secretary of Defense Gates' book pointing out how little attention the President pays to anything that doesn't involve his own re-election prospects. Score one for the Democrats.
Gov. Christie may be harmed enough by this incredibly stupid move that his national career could be over. However, don't count him out yet. He is no fool. That fact alone allows him to mount a credible defense. The massive traffic jam does not rise to the level of impeachability of Nixon's Watergate or Clinton's Monicagate.
So far, the governor has handled this situation skillfully. He has apologized and taken full responsibility on the grounds that since he is the governor the buck stops with him. At the same time he has denied any personal involvement or foreknowledge, and has immediately fired the people responsible for this scheme. No attempt is being made to cover up details or to protect the perpetrators. He has welcomed the prospect of further investigation, seemingly confident of his own lack of culpability.
Gov. Christie's actions up until now are a refreshing example of how a chief executive should react to problems that occur on his watch. President Obama, on the other hand, follows a different play book when trouble arises. First, he denies that the problem exists. If this doesn't work he down plays it by claiming that he did not know what was happening until after the fact. Then the Grievance Machine takes over and blames Obama's critics for compounding the problem by pointing out that the problem even exists! No one is held accountable, no one is fired. When President Bush can't be bashed or Speaker Boehner blamed, the last resort is for Oprah to whine that the critics don't support the President because he is black.
The Arab Spring democracy movement morphing into an anti-American campaign by the Muslim Brotherhood must be because of Bush's Iraq War. The "Fast and Furious" program where we allowed U.S. weapons to be trafficked into Mexico and then back to kill American agents? The Attorney General didn't tell me about that one. An Islamist terrorist at Ft. Hood killing our soldiers? Nope, just a disgruntled worker causing workplace violence. Islamic terrorists wiping out a diplomatic mission in Benghazi while we did nothing to save them? Hillary says it doesn't matter now, and she was in charge there, not me. Did the IRS harass my political opponents? I read about that one in the papers. Affordable Care Act almost imploding because of massive incompetence in planning and implementing the roll out? Darn Tea Party tactics sabotaging me again. I know nothing, wasn't there, didn't do it, don't even know what happened. Forget the G.W., I can get you a real deal on a fine bridge over the Potomac.
Weiland Ross is a Banner columnist.