Big Boss Man Ain’t So Big

I’m gonna get me a boss man
One who’s gonna treat me right
I work hard in the day time
Rest easy at night
Big boss man, can’t you hear me when I call? Can’t you hear me when I call?
I said you ain’t so big, you’re just tall that’s all

—Luther Dixon and Jimmy Reed, 1960

foolishly, I predicted that Chris Christie would be the Republican nominee for president in 2016. Now, thanks to Christie’s traffic scandal in New Jersey, and thanks to his possibly illicit use of Hurricane Sandy relief money, the guv’nor has messed up my bold forecasting.

I apologize for grossly underestimating Republican corruption. Won’t happen again.

Perhaps because I had gone out on a limb to predict the 2016 Republican race’s end, I have followed very closely (beginning with Rachel Maddow’s coverage, long before other national journalists bothered to cover it) what has been happening in New Jersey regarding Rachel Maddow Christiethat famous bridge and that now-infamous traffic jam that followed from those increasingly-infamous orders given to make Democratic politicians in Fort Lee pay a price for thumbing their noses at the I-am-not-a-bully governor.

The problem is that it was ordinary folks who got hurt in all the mess. Ordinary folks on their way to work or to school or to doctor appointments. Or folks waiting on emergency responders to fight through traffic gridlock to get to them. I guess we shouldn’t be surprised, after years of Obama-hating Republicans hurting millions of ordinary folks by trying to sabotage the economic recovery, that making life miserable for motorists in a small town in New Jersey in order to exact political revenge was the weapon of choice for right-wing partisans.

I watched Governor Bully’s marathon presser last week, every single second of it, and I was impressed. I was impressed by his stunning lack of curiosity about why close aides would undertake a mission to disrupt traffic around such an iconic water-crosser like the George Washington Bridge. Revealing such an embarrassing lack of curiosity was, in this case, probably the only thing Christie could do, given that his only defense for what happened is that the hands-on, in-your-face “leader” didn’t have his hands on a thing, and his face was turned the other way.

About the only thing Christie got passionate about was his claim that he was the victim of the mess, that he had been lied to, that he had been “betrayed” by “stupid” people. It remains to be seen just how stupid those people will turn out to be. In the Age of Wikipedia, it remains to be seen if Christie will have the last word on the reputations of the people he attacked, particularly the reputation of his former Deputy Chief of Staff, Bridget Anne Kelly. How would you like your Wikipedia entry to forever reflect, without any input from you, that you are a colossal liar with a penchant for playing stupid and dangerous political tricks behind your Big Boss Man’s back?

And it remains to be seen whether all of this will kill Christie’s presidential ambitions, or whether he will, to borrow a phrase from the last election cycle, self-deport from the race. A lot of people are saying that he can come back, that it is so far away from the start of the 2016 campaign that he has plenty of time to rehabilitate himself, or, more accurately, for others to rehabilitate him. Amazingly, a lot of people are suggesting that all of this mess could actually help him by solidifying his image as a real leader who is not afraid to face the music.

Except that while this tune is being played, not many people are dancing with the bully. Most of those on the right who have bothered to say anything good about Christie have done so mostly in order to take a shot at President Obama, by claiming that the traffic scandal in New Jersey doesn’t compare with all those Obama scandals, which weren’t scandals at all, unless, of course, you are a Foxaholic. These days there are two kinds of scandals: real ones like the one Chris Christie is involved in right now and phony ones like you hear about on Fox “News” and in which President Obama is not and never has been involved.

The truth is that this very real scandal has erupted too early for Christie, in terms of his obvious desire to be president. There is little incentive for others to go out and defend him right now because no one on the national stage has anything invested in him yet. They can just wait and see what happens. If this were early 2016 instead of early 2014, things would be different. Donors who had buried him in money, as well as high-profile pols and pundits who had jumped on his bandwagon, would now be in hyper-defense mode. As it is, there is a wait-and-see attitude among the big players.

And the Tea Party conservatives, those who have an outsized say in who gets the GOP nomination, don’t really care what happens to him, after he exchanged political spit with President Obama toward the end of the 2012 campaign. Getting within cootie range of the Scary Negro is an unforgivable sin in the Teavangelical Church.

So, it doesn’t look good for Christie. And it doesn’t look good for my prediction. Which reminds me to again apologize for my underestimation of Republican corruption. As I said, it won’t happen again.

19 Comments

  1. Waiting for Scott Pelley to put on his fake serious face and do a 60-Minutes segment on how the order to close the bridge came from Christie because he was trying to protect an embassy from terrorists.

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  2. Bridgegate will be fascinating to watch as it plays out, that’s for sure. I am in suspense over the prospective sworn testimony by Bridget Kelly and others in the rotund one’s office. Of the possible scenarios the most likely, I think, is that they will take the 5th, just as did CC’s school chum who was in charge of the GW bridge. If so, that will only intensify public suspicion of their boss as well as, as Duane notes, make the damage to their own reputations more lasting.

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  3. ansonburlingame

     /  January 14, 2014

    Oh my goodness, a politically caused 4 day traffic jam is created and America goes nuts blaming “someone”.

    Earlier, 4 Americans died under combat conditions, a consulate was burned to the ground and our then Secretary of State first said “the video made them do it” and later, “why are we discussing this matter, NOW?”

    Again, one 4 day traffic jam that should not have happened, versus “Fast and Furious”, “IRS misdeeds”, Benghazi, using Executive Orders to circumvent established law related to immigration, and that list goes further if one cares to look.

    Sickening, from both sides.

    Anson

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    • King Beauregard

       /  January 14, 2014

      Aaaand Anson shows up to make excuses for deliberate and intentional abuse of power on his team’s part. Everybody take a drink.

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      • Or three.

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        • Sedate Me

           /  January 17, 2014

          3? Jesus, man!

          Oh, maybe you mean 3 Litres. That might be a good start.

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          • Now you’re talking.

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          • How many beers are in 3 liters? (Yes, I can’t help it I spell like an American. What are you some kind of double-naught foreign spy?)

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            • Sedate Me

               /  January 22, 2014

              Ask the NSA. They know what my favourite beer is, even though I claim I don’t really have one. They knoweth all and it keeps me safe from…choosing the wrong beer?

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        • King Beauregard

           /  January 18, 2014

          Let’s see … making excuses for the deliberate abuse of power, that’s one drink. False equivalence with Benghazi, that’s another drink. Dismissing it as nothing more than a traffic jam when it very likely was a contributing cause to the death an American citizen, that’s another drink. Your math checks out, sir!

          Now when Anson returns and posts a wall-of-text where he retreats into the coloring book version of Republican principles (“capitalism is good because you can always get a better job if you’re not happy”, for example), that’s a chug.

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    • Hmm. For someone who says they don’t spend a lot of time watching Fox “News,” you sure have the message down pat. Good job of chiming in with irrelevant events and then offering us a “both sides” are sickening conclusion. Nice touch.

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  4. Sedate Me

     /  January 18, 2014

    All but the easily fooled majority know that underneath the carefully crafted, grumpy, Care Bear exterior Boutros-Boutros Christie is your typical NY/NJ asshole. But it’s still far too easy, especially for the reasonable & rational folks left out there, to kid themselves about what most politicos are truly capable of.

    “I don’t like that guy, but even Politico X wouldn’t do that. That’s just ridiculous/paranoid!”

    As this story shows. It isn’t ridiculous, or paranoid, to expect the worst of those in power. This Christie story shows how petty, how personal, how vindictive, our so-called leaders can be, even when they have nothing on the line. Petty as it is, this is not something to be minimized.

    Let’s put this into context. Here’s a guy who’s cruising to as easy a victory as you’re going to get in this day & age. He was up about 25 points and was even endorsed by some Democrats for a job he doesn’t even plan on sticking around for! But this landslide victory wasn’t enough. Power is an addictive drug. He wanted more. He wanted everyone to bow before him.

    Christie was angry that this Democratic mayor refused to endorse him, a Republican. The nerve of that mayor to resist him! He needed to be put in his place. So, a one line e-mail delivered a simple message “time for traffic problems” and it’s meaning was understood. This immediate understanding indicates that this wasn’t a one-off kind of thing, but part of a pattern of behaviour. This is how Christie and his syndicate rolls. (In fairness, this may be par for the political course.)

    And just what was the effect of this petty minded conspiracy? Well, what effect could it possibly have had? NONE WHATSOEVER! The mayor didn’t change his mind. Christie didn’t get win a single vote more. The ONLY thing that happened was that ordinary American citizens, most of whom don’t live in that town, most of whom voted FOR Christie and none of whom had ANY idea they were being intentionally victimized, were callously sacrificed in order to achieve absolutely nothing…other than the power-rush! It should be deeply disturbing the ease with which he and his crew meddled with the daily lives of hundreds of thousands of completely innocent Americans as if they were not even human, perhaps even killing one in the process (Terrorism anyone?). This was a “collective punishment” for people who had the audacity to be found inside the territory of his irrelevant, powerless, enemy. For that, they had to pay.

    So, everyone who would entrust Christie with the secret, unaccountable, power of the NSA, CIA, Gitmo, etc…raise your hand! Because if you don’t raise your hand, President Christie will see to it that you’ll spend the rest of your miserable lives stuck in traffic, praying for it to end in a drone strike.

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    • It turns out, with the latest revelations presented by the mayor of Hoboken, that your use of the term “syndicate” is quite appropriate.

      The Hoboken story gives more weight to Steve Kornacki’s theory that the Fort Lee lane closings had more to do with the development nearby than punishing the mayor. All of which adds up to a mobbish behavior that, even if the governor didn’t know the details of same, certainly permitted the behavior to go on so long as it remained outside his direct knowledge. That part of it, the part about having plausible deniability, is also part of the whole dark political culture that apparently is alive and well in the New Jersey that Christie, while he was the aggressive federal prosecutor for the area, supposedly “cleaned up.”

      And I will admit that you have a point about Christie and his potential use of the NSA and an agency you don’t mention, the FBI. I hadn’t looked at that angle before, and given the prominence of the NSA-related stories, that whole get-your-enemies culture in the governor’s office in New Jersey is doubly worse for his future aspirations.

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      • Sedate Me

         /  January 27, 2014

        FBI? Hey, if I were to type out all the government agencies that spy on people, all of the keys on my keyboard would need replacing. Perhaps that says something all on its own. (and not that my keyboard is almost 20 years old).

        As if you’re not smart enough to figure it out, but a major part of the reason I wrote the above is to demonstrate the folly of putting faith in -never mind Spook Inc. themselves- but the politicos supposedly in charge of them.

        Nearly all politicos have petty grudges and personal scores to settle. I’ve witnessed plenty. Christie may -or may not- be an extreme example. But if a guy with as much to lose as Christie does (a Presidential run) will risk it just to settle a score in a way that ONLY punishes hundreds of thousands of completely innocent citizens of his state, what does it say about how much contempt your average polico has for the people they claim they’re doing it for…or “protecting”.

        We are but insignificant bugs to be squashed at their convenience. It’s best to keep as much power out of their hands as possible and to keep their actions in the spotlight as much as possible.

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        • First, the only “spying” allowed domestically (and I use the term as loosely as you are using it) is done with the permission of the courts. And if we don’t trust the executive agencies, the Congress, or the courts, then we are essentially saying that government itself is untrustworthy and useless. Thus we are embracing, at least theoretically, anarchy.

          Having said that, although I don’t agree with your bug-squashing metaphor, I do agree a thousand percent that, “It’s best to keep as much power out of their hands as possible and to keep their actions in the spotlight as much as possible.” Now, just what “as much as possible” means here in the 21st century is the problem. You draw the line one place and I draw it another. And to complicate matters, we both might draw the lines in different places 20 years from now. It is a very complex matter, which is what I have been trying to say. Sometimes a black-and-white view of it, like I think you sometimes suggest, simplifies it to the extreme and doesn’t admit to any nuanced understanding of the problems we face from jihadist freaks and others who have it in for us as Americans.

          And let me say this: I respect the view you have (stripped of its hyperbolic decorations), as I mentioned above. To the extent possible, political power should be controlled and transparency should be the guiding star of public policy. But I sometimes wonder if you respect the views of those who hold that there is a need for effective national security tools?

          Duane

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          • Speaking of the privacy issue and the NSA flap, allow me to interject a thought. It occurs to me that the collection of metadata, a.k.a., a haystack of which number or computer called or texted or emailed another, has because of its ubiquity evolved into a kind of public activity. One could make the case that it’s not much different from being seen in public driving to the library, doing business at a bank teller’s window, boarding a plane, or shopping at the mall. There has never been an expectation of privacy in such public activity. Seems to me the danger comes in the potential of using such metadata to access actual content. As long as that’s ensured with judicial oversight, I personally don’t have a problem with it, especially if it keeps us from being blown up.

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            • Jim,

              Couldn’t agree more. I have often thought of it this way:

              I once had a case in which an employee I represented was being surveilled by the Postal Inspection Service, which is the law enforcement arm of the USPS, with all the powers of other federal cops. One retired inspector (they often hire retirees for surveillance work) was watching (and filming) this employee’s house and his activities in and out of the house from down the street. During my investigation, I watched the videos that were made (others were made from different locations). The videos contained images of several houses on the block and several cars passing by and people moving about that had nothing to do with my guy. Were those unrelated folks being “spied” on? Of course not. They were just in the larger picture of the surveillance. But that is what some would have us believe, when it comes to this NSA stuff. We are all victims of government “spying.”

              Now, suppose during that surveillance that the inspector saw, say, one of my guy’s neighbors murder someone? Because the inspector was, under the color of law, surveilling only my guy, should he not tell the police about the murder? Should he be allowed to testify in court as to what he saw? Of course we would expect him to contact police and give testimony in court as to what he saw! And no one would validate an argument from the killer that he was being illegally spied upon by the government and thus the “government’s” testimony be discounted.

              That is kind of the way I see this business with the NSA. There is a big picture being taken in order to hopefully catch a future suspect or foil a terrorist attack. The rest of us just happen to be wandering by when the picture is taken. Like you, I don’t have a problem with what is going on so long as there is adequate oversight involved.

              Duane

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