New Jersey’s Governor Chris Christie (R) is suddenly up to his armpits in manure as the media try to figure out what he knew and when he knew it. Or why he didn’t know it. It seems his office is at the center of a scandal about the September closure of the George Washington Bridge, said closure being an act of political retribution against Fort Lee, NJ, Mayor Mark Sokolich, a Democrat who did not endorse Christie’s reelection campaign.
Apparently Bridget Anne Kelly, Christie’s deputy chief of staff for legislative and intergovernmental affairs, sent an email to David Wildstein, then the highest-level appointee representing the state at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which operates the bridge connecting the two states. In that email Kelly said, “Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee.” Wildstein replied “Got it.”
Still unknown is whether Kelly issued that go-ahead on her own or under orders from Christie.
The governor, denying any knowledge of the plot, fired Kelly yesterday, and today a judge ruled that Wildstein must testify before a state assembly committee investigating the scandal.
Nevertheless, the focus remains on Christie, who hopes to run for president in 2016. It’s difficult to believe he didn’t know about something happening right under his nose in his own office. It’s difficult to believe that he could demonstrate such concern for his constituents after Hurricane Sandy but let the busiest bridge in the US remain snarled for four days without acting aggressively to fix the problem. It’s difficult to believe, as some have reported, that he wasn’t even aware of the gridlock. He does, after all, have aides. He has phones. He has a television. It’s difficult to believe all of this, but Christie has steadfastly denied any knowledge of the the plot and so far there is no evidence to the contrary.
I don’t want to believe that, after I finally overcame my mental stereotypes of NJ bosses and thugs and accepted Christie as a blunt but honest Republican who works across party lines to get things done, he’s turning out to be just another NJ lowlife after all. Look at how stupid and unnecessary the plan was; he was winning his election by a wide margin.
Why would he risk his presidential aspirations with something as petty as a bridge closure? Is he really just another vindictive little man with plenty of political clout and no scruples?
I want to believe Christie knew nothing about this. But it’s a tough sell right now.