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
oolishly, 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 that 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.