Thursday, January 9, 2014

Christie's Full Stop

Far too often in the media today, when real news gets a little slow, fake controversies - non-troversies, as we sometimes call them - seem to flood our 24/7 media landscape.

We were treated to an example of this kind of non-troversy last week, when most of the propagandists on the political right went after MSNBC TV host Melissa Harris-Perry. Two of her guests made a joke about Mitt Romney's adopted grandchild, and the non-troversy backed up from there, causing fake outrage to block out some of the other more important news last week, like a traffic jam blocking more important traffic from getting through.

In truth, when MSNBC's Rachel Maddow first began covering the scandal of Governor Chris Christie and the traffic jam on the George Washington bridge - one of the busiest bridges in the world, just north of Manhattan - we honestly thought her producers may have been trying to create another one of those non-troversies.

After the most recent developments in the Christie scandal on Wednesday, however, we've realized two very important things.

The first thing we realized is that, while New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is one of the most bombastic, loud, obnoxious, direct, mean politicians in America today, the Tea Party still apparently doesn't think he's crazy enough for them to support. After all - Christie hugged President Obama after Hurricane Sandy, and most Tea Partiers still think that's a mortal sin.

The second thing we realized is that, once again, Ms. Maddow has some of the best producers in the media industry - and that this story about Gov. Christie using state resources to inflict a personal political payback isn't just a nonsense non-troversy.

In case you'd missed it, a story surfaced recently about the small town of Fort Lee, New Jersey, located just on the other side of the Hudson River from Manhattan. The story implicated some top appointees of Gov. Christie in a scandal in which those appointees - potentially at the behest of Gov. Christie - created a massive traffic jam as political retribution to Fort Lee's mayor. Not only did the traffic disaster disrupt business for nearly a week - but it delayed emergency service workers, leading to the death of a 91-year-old woman, thanks to the gridlocked bridge.

In short, the bridge blockade is the kind of blatant abuse of power that some Americans might associate with the days of Tammany Hall, or the days of the original Mayor Daley in Chicago. Or, as Jon Stewart noted last night on The Daily Show, the kind of first-rate political corruption that New Jersey is legendary for.

That the e-mail correspondence now coming out surrounding the story heavily suggests that Gov. Christie may have called for his appointees to take political payback is scary enough. When you add in the fact that some very astute political pundits believe New Jersey Gov. Christie is one of the best chances the GOP has to win the Presidency in 2016, the story becomes absolutely terrifying.

Pulling off the kind of abuse of power Chris Christie now appears to have been involved with takes an enormous amount of chutzpah. It takes a special kind of evil insanity to do something like that and not end up getting convicted later - for example, like Dick Cheney did with Iraq.

From the Tea Partiers we know, Christie's just not crazy enough - or the right kind of crazy - to win their support for a 2016 run for the presidency.