We have now learned that a top aide to Gov. Chris Christie ordered the closure of two access lanes to the world’s busiest bridge as political payback. Apparently, the aide was angry that the Democratic mayor of Ft. Lee failed to endorse Christie in his successful re-election campaign.
That public officials in New Jersey would use their offices to punish competitors is not surprising. Such stories are seldom even newsworthy. But given that the payback came from someone tied to one of the expected front-runners for the GOP nomination for president? That’s news!
If you think not, consider this: What would be the reaction of the media, especially the Fox Noise machine, if President Obama’s Chief of Staff had used his position to exact the same sort of revenge against a political opponent? Just think about that for a moment. How many headlines would that generate considering all the outrage and accusations against the Obama administration for merely conducting business as usual? Remember the controversy that stemmed from President Obama’s plan to address school children in a video link as previous presidents have done. Remember the “indoctrination” charges? And remember the outrage when the First Lady started the “Let’s Move” campaign and healthy foods initiative to combat childhood obesity? Right wingers were in full throat with claims of indoctrination and claims that she was “meddling” in decisions that should be reserved for the family.
If political payback by the White House was uncovered, Rush Limbaugh, Fox and most Teapublican politicians would have the tar boiling, the torches lit and their pitchforks raised.
I’m not saying that Democrats should react the same way in the wake of the Ft. Lee bridge closure. Gov. Christie may have no direct involvement or prior knowledge of the payback. A leader can’t be expected to micro-manage every aspect of the government. But a governor should be aware of actions by his (or her) senior staff members. Moreover, the bridge closure does raise questions about Christie’s leadership and his choice of those who work for him.
At minimum, this event deserves a full and timely investigation, the resignation of those involved, and an apology from Christie. At worst, it should disqualify Christie from office.