A big, messy, tragic, stupid, vengeful scandal had to come to New Jersey during the Chris Christie era, and thus, it has reached us now. Yes, it turns out that the governor’s staff knew about and directed the Port Authority of NY/NJ to gum up traffic to the George Washington Bridge on the first day of school in September in order to create massive traffic tie-ups in Fort Lee NJ., because the Democratic Mayor of Forth Lee would not endorse Christie for reelection (here’s a handy timeline). A women might have died because emergency workers couldn’t get to her for while. Schoolchildren were late for school. The town was paralyzed.
Christie is denying that he ever knew that his staff did this, feigning outrage at the mere thought of any kind of political retribution, tactics that the governor has perfected during his term in office. The episode shows an atmosphere of thuggery that’s ugly even by New Jersey standards, and its pettiness is surpassed only by how truly unnecessary it was. Christie was going to win the election by a large margin whether the mayor endorsed him or not, but I guess that didn’t matter. Even if we buy the governor’s denials, the atmosphere he’s created in Trenton is more noxious than any SuperFund site. And the Star-Ledger has it exactly right: this is Nixonian and the governor will pay a steep price for it with no EZPass rebate.
We are still at the beginning stage of this investigation and there will probably be more damaging revelations, but my sense is that this by itself will not end any chances Christie has for a national run in 2016 if he was not directly involved. That should either come out or his loyal staff will take the fall for him. Stay tuned.0