Thursday, January 09, 2014

Will No One Rid Me of this Meddlesome Mayor?

Chris Christie’s… well, it really wasn’t much of a mea culpa, was it; more of a theya’ culpa… about the George Washington Bridge scandal got all its due respect today from Charlie Pierce. Christie is shocked, shocked! to learn that there was politics going on in his office, and has summarily cut ties with the culprits, firing his Deputy Chief of Staff Bridget Kelly and splitting with his former Campaign Manager Bill Stepien, who had been in line to become the New Jersey GOP Chair and a key consultant for the Republican Governors’ Association. Christie seems to be punishing these miscreants not so much for ratfking (as Pierce would put it) the people of Fort Lee, NJ, as for being disloyal to him.

Make no mistake: In his own mind, Chris Christie is the victim in this affair, and certainly not the perpetrator of any political dirty tricks! "I am who I am," Christie said at today’s press conference, striking a note somewhere between Popeye and La Cage aux Folles, "but I am not a bully."

Yeah, right.

I’ve been telling everyone who would listen to me that Christie, whom even some of my more liberal friends admire for what seems like a Trumanesque bluntness of manner, was in reality just a bully. His admonition, in advance of 2011’s Hurricane Irene that New Jerseyites under evacuation orders should “[g]et the hell off the beach in Asbury Park and get out” would, in fact, have been admirably direct and pointed coming from many states' governors; from New Jersey, it sounded very much like Chris Christie being Chris Christie. This just happened to be a situation in which a bully’s natural instincts led him to say something that was arguably the right thing to say… but that doesn’t mean he wasn’t talking like a bully.

On the podcast of last night’s Rachel Maddow show, I heard several different people say some version of “either he’s lying or he can’t control his staff.” Actually, they were neglecting a third possibility: that Christie is the sort of man whose staff would believe that political retaliation on his behalf goes without saying. That he need not even utter anything like “will no one rid me of this turbulent priestmayor?” to deploy his henchmen, on whose hands alone the blood will remain and who can conveniently be denied and cashiered.

And this we want in the White House?

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