New Jersey governor Chris Christie was ensnared in a billowing political furore on Wednesday when newly released emails connected one of his top aides to a decision to block lanes on the approach to a busy bridge, causing traffic chaos, apparently in an act of revenge against a political enemy.So what, you say. Dirty U.S. politics. Meh! Read a little more.
The suggestion that his top staff might have been actively involved in a vindictive move against a Democratic small-town mayor that caused grief for thousands of New Jersey residents could be toxic for the governor, who is trying to position himself ahead of 2016 as a new-look Republican able to reach across the aisle to Democratic and Independent voters. Even more problematic could be evidence, if any emerges, that the governor’s office took part in a cover-up of its involvement.
Christie has consistently denied that his staff had anything to do with the lane closures and the ensuing traffic snarl up, and insisted that the events on the bridge were instigated as part of a traffic study of the flow of vehicles over the bridge.
Already two heads have rolled: Wildstein resigned on 6 December and was followed soon after by Bill Baroni, Christie’s appointee as deputy director of the Port Authority, who is also copiously referenced in the new email chain.Does any of this, any of it at all, sound remotely similar to anything happening in Ottawa? If not, let me provide you with the statement New Jersey governor Chris Christie released this afternoon:
"What I've seen today for the first time is unacceptable. I am outraged and deeply saddened to learn that not only was I misled by a member of my staff, but this completely inappropriate and unsanctioned conduct was made without my knowledge. One thing is clear: this type of behavior is unacceptable and I will not tolerate it because the people of New Jersey deserve better. This behavior is not representative of me or my Administration in any way, and people will be held responsible for their actions."Now, it's starting to sound vaguely like the Harper/Duffy/Wallin/Wright cover-up scandal, $90,000-gate, coming out of every Conservative political baseboard on Parliament Hill. The lack of any form of personal accountability or apology is stunningly familiar.
Lane closures? Not even in the same league, you might say. Fraud, bribery, not to mention voter suppression, would surely be considered a thousand times worse than playing jiggery-pokery with traffic on the George Washington bridge.
You'd be wrong.
The New Jersey "bridge-gate" scandal has just killed Christie's 2016 bid for the Republican nomination for President. He must be in awe of Harper right now.
(If I can get the show opening monologue from tonight's Jon Stewart, Daily Show, in which he shreds Christie, I'll post it here as an update).
Got it! Right here.