So we now know the infamous traffic jam that occurred at the George Washington Bridge last fall was the creation of an emotionally distraught, stressed and lovelorn woman. At least that’s what the lawyers who conducted the whitewashed investigation of “Bridgegate” for New Jersey Governor Chris Christie want you to believe. In one of the most self-serving performances (and that’s saying a lot with Jim McGreevey’s infamous “I am a Gay American” show in the queue) paid for by taxpayers in New Jersey’s history, attorney Randy Mastro turned the clock back to when women were ‘Dames’ and it was okay to slap a seeming hysterical ‘female.’ The governor’s team pointed the finger at former deputy chief of staff Bridget Kelly as the real culprit in the lane closures at the world’s busiest bridge that was aimed at teaching an uncooperative politician a lesson.
To recap, lanes that lead from Fort Lee New Jersey to the toll booths at the George Washington Bridge were closed September 9-13 of last year, creating a traffic nightmare on a span that connects New Jersey to New York and is the busiest crossing in the world. Initially, the official explanation was that a traffic study was being conducted. That story held until some enterprising reporters at the Bergen Record newspaper began to smell a rat. Eventually, e-mails obtained by the paper revealed that Team Christie was behind the lane closures as payback to Fort Lee’s mayor, a Democrat, who decided not to endorse the governor for re-election. Christie, a Republican, was trying to rack up Democratic endorsements to solidify his bipartisan credentials and position himself among rank and file Republican voters as a refreshing alternative to the Tea Party zealots for the GOP 2016 presidential nomination. When Mayor Mark Sokolich balked, apparently Christie was incensed. What has occurred since is the unraveling of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, the agency that oversees the river crossing, and the tarnishing of the Christie brand.
Back to the whitewash.
Despite mounting evidence that Christie was aware of the act of political stupidity, according to the governor’s propaganda machine it was that woman who was really behind an episode that threatens the governor’s presidential ambitions. Team Mastro not only threw Kelly under the bus, they put the bus in reverse to run her over again but then they blamed her for getting hit. It is a classic strategy to deflect attention and who else to take the fall but the hapless and scorned woman. While Kelly certainly bears some responsibility for the juvenile stunt of tying up traffic on the Hudson River crossing, she was not alone in making the call to do so. And Chris Christie is at least well aware of that.
Given his disdain for women, as this was not his only gender freak out, the governor should have showed up at his press conference with a club in one hand and wearing a leopard loin cloth. He certainly did his best Fred Flintstone imitation with Randy Mastro as his Barney. The two are a perfect 1-2 Neanderthal tag team that clubbed Kelly silly. On the Fox Skews Network Christie claimed he feels “exonerated” by the internal “investigation.” What he should really feel is ashamed.
It seems like the Boys Club, or the Privileged White Boys Club, gets off easy. Christie high school friend once denied, David Wildstein, who was in cahoots with Kelly, resigns. Christie ally Bill Baroni resigns. Bill Stepien gets a slap on the wrist and was allowed to walk away. And David Samson, a former state Attorney General and the chairman of the Port Authority, and whose fingerprints are all over the traffic cones that blocked the lanes to the bridge and whose business connections reek of impropriety, hastily resigns but is hailed by the governor. But Kelly? Well, she first gets kicked to the curb and then is subjected to a sexist scolding for being hormonally challenged and allowing her emotions to get the best of her. According to Christie’s 360-page supermarket tabloid of an investigative report, Kelly was so wrecked by a failed romance with the governor’s political guru Stepien that she became unhinged and cooked up the lane closing scheme as an act of desperation.
This He-Man act by Chris Christie has gotten stale and quite frankly, it’s embarrassing as hell to have a governor who is this self-centered. Listening to his tongue lashing of reporters at his State House press conference, his first in over two months, he sounded like the 7th grader who got his lunch money taken but was given the opportunity to air his grievances over the school’s public address system. That’s the person I see whenever the governor is behind the podium; the kid who got pelted during dodge ball and was awkward around girls. This governor is displaying behavior that is deeply rooted in something other than typical Jersey “I-Will-Die-Before-I-Give-Up-This-Office” politics. There’s something clinical going on here, in the governor’s delusion, in his belief that the public is so stupid that it will see the fire but won’t smell the gasoline on his hands. This is a sickness that has nothing to do with personal ambition. Christie’s two Democratic predecessors were flawed no doubt, but he exhibits behavior that suggests a psychosis.
All the political chatter is on whether Bridgegate will cost Chris Christie an opportunity to be his party’s standard bearer in the 2016 presidential race. I have a more practical and Jersey-centered concern. Should Governor Christie resign or be removed from office? There is no doubt in my mind that Chris Christie was aware, on some level, that his aides were orchestrating the traffic tie-up. And if he was not aware his ignorance betrays the public trust and should be cause for him to be sent packing. Perhaps three times is the charm and the next person who occupies the ground floor office on State Street in Trenton will actually be worthy of the privilege.
Walter Fields is Executive Editor of NorthStarNews.com. Follow him on Twitter @WFields.