Wednesday, January 22, 2014

Reflecting A Theme

It's funny how weather sometimes reflects the mood of a nation, or even a specific region of the country.

For the northeastern United States on Tuesday, that kind of manifestation was on display as stormy conditions - both in politics and in weather - dominated the headlines. As heavy snow fell across the region, recently replaced former Republican Virginia Gov. McDonnell and his wife were indicted on federal criminal changes. Further north, in New Jersey, embattled Governor Chris Christie was being sworn in for a second term amidst his own swirling scandals.

It would be journalistic malpractice not to note that four years ago this week, both McDonnell and Christie came to power in their states, as the rise of the Tea Party extremists began.

Four years later the future of the Republican Party, on a national level, looks like a mirror Gov. Christie might have smashed in anger.

For his part, Governor Christie tried to remain positive on Tuesday, sounding a few notes of optimism in his second inaugural address. As we noted yesterday though, and as we've noted many times before, when people show you who they are, you should believe them - especially if you listened to the rest of Gov. Christie's speech.

The line that stood out to us in his address, and really clarified who Gov. Christie is, was also astounding in its hubris. "I will make this government truly work for those who pay for it," Christie said at one point in his inaugural address. While we realize he was referring to the taxpayers of his state, that Christie himself, or his speechwriters, allowed that phrase to make it into the final draft of his address, displays the two problems Christie's other scandals have already highlighted.

Either Chris Christie's been a clueless manager all along, who doesn't know what kinds of major actions his closest staff members have been taking. Or the Governor is a consummate liar who thinks that "winning at any cost" is a perfectly legitimate political strategy.

At least so far, it doesn't appear that Virginia's newest former governor, Bob McDonnell, and his wife, had the same strategy as Christie. Unlike his New Jersey counterpart, McDonnell's version of quid pro quo appears to have been one that included fast cars, new clothes, and lots of golf accessories - items that could earn both the former Virginia governor and his wife time in prison for many years to come.

That four years ago, both McDonnell and Christie were being discussed as potential future presidential candidates and leaders for the Republican Party is no surprise. As Dana Milbank pointed out in the Washington Post on Tuesday, the extremely corrupt corporate purchase of political power that also began four years ago this week, with the Citizens United ruling, never really went away.

It was just obscured temporarily for a few years by the ideological blizzard of the extremist tea partiers.

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