Once upon a time there was a rising star in the Republican Party named Chris Christie.
He is the Governor of New Jersey and last November was re-elected by an overwhelming margin, and thus considered a strong candidate to be his party’s nominee in the 2016 U.S. Presidential election.
But that was light years from his situation of today, when he is fighting for his political survival, all because of, first, unacceptably base actions, and secondly, because the explanations he gave for what happened was later overturned by the facts.
For four days in September tens of thousands of drivers “boiled” in their cars in the Fort Lee area as Christie’s people decided to close two lanes on the George Washington Bridge that connects New Jersey and New York in order to punish (!) the Mayor of Fort Lee, who refused to support Christie’s re-election bid.
This might expect to happen in other countries, but not in the state opposite Manhattan. Christie was forced to grant a media interview in which he apologized on Jan. 9 to the residents of New Jersey, Fort Lee and the drivers who were afflicted for hours.
It was a good, proper and smart move that might bail him out as Governor, but his chances to be a presidential candidate have been damaged seriously. For years, Christie cleverly and carefully cultivated an image of a different politician: a clean politician who calls a spade a spade, a politician who put the interests of the people above partisan considerations.
That is how he justified the warm welcome he extended to President Barack Obama in the wake of hurricane Sandy days before the Presidential elections, which several commentators along with Republican candidate Mitt Romney, claimed contributed to his party’s defeat .
But the bridge incident – he claims not to have known about it, which is somewhat hard to believe – reveals a Nixonian quality in his administration if not in his own personality, a thoughtless and intemperate vindictiveness that makes him dangerous for the country.
In an email exchange among his assistants, when someone expressed concern that school buses were trapped in the traffic jam created by the bridge lane closings, David Wildstein, an old friend on the Port Authority of New York and Jeersey – whom Christy denounced finally – replied: “They are the children of Barbara Buono voters” – his Democratic opponent for Governor.
Shame on them.