Neo-GOP Bully Chris Christie versus Bully Pulpit Teddy Roosevelt of the Real GOP
This blog is mostly a response to a column on "BridgeGate" by John Dean. His surprising focus struck me as being on relatively trivial aspects, since there is an EXTREMELY direct link between the latest neo-GOP scandal and his own experiences with President Nixon. The only lesson the neo-GOP "learned" from Watergate was that the ostensible leader should be kept in the dark about the dark stuff.
Reagan provided the best example (to date) of how the deprincipled neo-GOP applied this lesson. As long as people perceived "the big boss" as a personally nice guy, then it didn't matter what crimes his subordinates committed—as long as they didn't tell the boss. Dubya was mostly following the same line, but he was largely undercut by the visible "evil genius" of the big Dick Cheney glaring over his shoulder.
Governor Christie was (and is) simply applying the same lesson of "Nixon knew too much" and was thereby too personally involved in Watergate. Based on the Nixon lesson, Christie's staff understood what to do and when NOT to tell the boss about what they did. Since I believe that Christie is relatively quite competent and even perversely intelligent, I am certain he understood full well the kind of environment he was creating. If Christie is now claiming he didn't understand what kind of vindictive person he had promoted to such a position of authority and power, then he is lying—and he is STILL responsible. Even if they can't find a law that applies specifically to closing a bridge for politically-motivated punishment, threats and intimidation are still considered crimes in most of the so-called civilized legal codes. (Your mileage may differ in today's America.) No, you can't criminalize the promotion that enabled a future criminal to commit crimes, but you can (and should) hold Christie personally responsible for crimes committed by the government (or even by a company) he leads.
Which political party is the one that keeps emphasizing "personal responsibility"? Oh, yeah. The neo-GOP (not to be confused with Abraham Lincoln's Republican Party or Teddy Roosevelt's GOP).
I think the best way to demonstrate the ultimately personal nature of the vindictive and intimidating policies of his administration would be to make a "best of the bully" video compilation from the YouTube videos Chris Christie himself has been ordering his staff to make. He actually orders aides to be ready to film his attacks on possible liberals and their progressive ideas, so he can publish those videos and gain so-called street cred with the neo-GOP fanatics. Yes, from Christie himself they are only verbal attacks, but he uses his aggressiveness and sheer size to make them seem quite threatening and on the edge of hate speech. After all, extreme hatred is what the extremists want to see—as long as they personally hate the targets of the speech.
However, it has long been OBVIOUS to me that Christie is a BIG bully, and I also believe he is an insecure coward, though the evidence of his personal cowardice is weaker and more circumstantial. Didn't you see the video of him viciously attacking the little woman who dared to ask him if he had any personally vested interest in the public schools? A simple "No, my children go to private school" would have sufficed. If he was as honest as his defenders claim, then he would have added an honest clarification: "... and it's just too bad YOUR children have to attend those lousy public schools I despise." However, what the big bully Christie actually did was get her name and go after her in a quite personal way, OBVIOUSLY seeking to intimidate her and threaten future intimidation to her and to anyone else who would dare ask him such nasty questions about his behavior and his beliefs. It was obvious that Christie is just a nasty BIG bully.
That his gang of junior bullies sometimes gets out of control is only to be expected with BULLY Christie as the leader of the gang. Why not close a bridge to punish the citizens who dared to elect a Democratic mayor? How dare a Democrat refuse to endorse Chris Christie just because he belongs to the so-called Republican Party?
Another aspect makes this bridge thing an even larger scandal to me. That's because Christie personally made the transportation problems worse by vetoing a new tunnel and other bridge projects. Instead of working to improve the traffic situation, he first makes it worse, and then his staff jumps on top of that badness and they use the transportation mess Christie had exacerbated to "punish" a trivial mayor. Apparently Christie's aides regard any trace of political loyalty to the Democratic Party as the kind of crime that deserves creative punishment.
However, I also think they followed the Nixon Rule and were quite careful NOT to tell Christie about their illegal actions, which is precisely what Christie expected them to do. Based on working with him and watching him in action, they were basically thinking that Christie certainly would approve of their thinking and actions, though he couldn't say so and MUST not be told, and they quite probably even expected him to pardon them even if they did get caught. I think they were wrong on that last expectation, and it doesn't matter if that's because Christie is a coward or cunning or a cunning coward. As for Christie's claim that he's standing on principle... Well, since when has politically safe BS been an actual principle? Oh yes. Ever since we had professional politicians.
That leads back to Teddy Roosevelt, who was such a highly principled but amateur politician that his last political act was to take the White House away from the GOP. That was the end of the first permanent-majority project of the GOP politicians. Unfortunately, now that looks like another one of those lessons no one learns from history.
New Jersey has a bad reputation, and Christie just made it a whole lot worse. Oh, and did I mention he's a big bad bully.