Forget about rain, snow, sleet, freezing rain or any other objects that might be falling down over the next few days in New Jersey. The real forecast is that the sky is falling on Governor Chris Christie and he has little time, and no room for error, if he wants to regain his reputation as a bully leader anytime soon.
The problem isn’t that he’s an able politician, because he is whether you disagree with him or not, or that he can get the Democrats to sign on to what will be his signature accomplishment, which was to raid public employees’ pockets and blame them for the recession enact a pension and benefits bill that made public employees pay more for their pensions and benefits (discovered the strike through key, didn’t I? OK, I’ll stop).
No, the problem with Chris Christie is that his style finally caught up to him. He is a big guy with a big personality who doesn’t suffer people whom he considers fools very patiently. Now his main personal strategy has him gasping for clean political air, which is usually in short supply in this state, and it’s choking him.
The latest example is a memo the Governor’s Office released in response to former Port Authority official and main player in the GW Bridge traffic scandal, David Wildstein, who said that he had evidence, still unreleased, that shows Christie knowing about the lane closings as they happened. That contrasts with what the governor told the public at his two hour news conference after the scandal broke.
Now, I understand that both parties play the blame game and the strategy has always been that if you’re accused of something to deny it, either truthfully or to stonewall and hope the investigation shows nothing, and to attack your opponents. This memo, though, is officially in the Hall of Fame for its vacuous and lame attempt at slurring Wildstein. From the article:
The memo listed five incidents as evidence, saying that “as a 16-year-old kid,” Mr. Wildstein had sued over a school board election; that he had been “publicly accused by his high school social studies teacher of deceptive behavior”; that he had a controversial tenure as mayor of Livingston, N.J.; that he had been an anonymous blogger; and that he “had a strange habit of registering web addresses for other people’s names without telling them.”
I’m assuming that you’ve stopped laughing.
Suing over a school board election? Doesn’t that qualify you to be in the He-Man Government Hater’s Club? What about being accused of deceptive behavior in social studies class? As a social studies teacher, I now have ultimate political power over most of the approximately 2,500 students who have sat in my classes over the years. Can’t wait for some of them to run for office. Controversial politician? Like you, Governor? Anonymous blogger? Not anymore.
In sum, the governor has bupkis on this guy. If he did, he would have released it weeks ago and would have gone on the offensive as he did in most other cases. If he wanted to play hardball, he would have offered to pay Wildstein’s legal fees so he could defend himself without having to out Christie with what they both know is true. Firing Wildstein, and former Christie aide Bridget Anne Kelly, has now opened the governor to all kinds of problems, because those people are now trying to save their lives. Some of what they say will be wrong, but much of it will be true. And Christie knows that.
The Bridge is not the only problem the governor has because there are reports that he didn’t implement the reconstruction aid program from Sandy until a full 10 months after the money was delivered to NJ. My sense is that this is going to be a bigger problem than lane closures. That was done for political payback; stalling aid to people whose houses were now in the Atlantic is far worse.
And pundits said the President had a rough fifth year. Christie’s win in 2013 will be his final election victory.0