Wednesday, January 15, 2014

Pouring Out Responsibility

While most of the media is still focused on the Chris Christie scandal, we think it's critically important today to look not just at the issue of Gov. Christie's alleged malfeasance, but at several other major issues that all have the same problem: A severe lack of accountability.

Gov. Christie hasn't done himself any favors in that department, and he didn't help himself on Tuesday during his New Jersey 'State of the State' address. Right from the beginning, Gov. Christie used the non-committal, "Mistakes were clearly made" framing, while also saying his office would "…cooperate with all inquiries to ensure this breach of trust won't happen again."

It's important to note that Gov. Christie didn't say a similar screw-up wouldn't happen again. Just that no one else would break his trust and get caught again. That distinction is important, as Christie is already being caught in further lies about how well he knew certain people involved with the bridge scandal, or which now-former Christie aides were loyal team players.

In short, what New Jerseyans are suffering under is a severe lack of accountability from Gov. Christie's office - something more than 300,000 residents of West Virginia can relate to.

As Ana Marie Cox noted on Monday, much of the media has given grudging, if slight coverage to the equally important story of the chemical spill in West Virginia. The very real physical need of water to remain potable for hundreds of thousands, and not become some kind of deadly poison that could eat a hole through your kitchen table is generally more important than if a couple thousand people get stuck in traffic near Manhattan for a few hours.

Of course, West Virginians also would have helped their own cause if they'd actually followed multiple recommendations to add oversight, holding corporations like Freedom Industries responsible through inspections and effective regulations.

Many in the media have also been culpable in hiding the failures of both private industry and government. The perfect example of this is the failure of Congress to extend unemployment insurance.

Greg Sargent, Jonathan Cohn, and Steve Benen all made it clear that Americans who've been out of work long-term, through no fault of their own, were abandoned by Republicans on Tuesday. To make it clear: Those Americans weren't abandoned by Congress, or their government as a whole - just by GOP lawmakers. That fact, sadly, is an uncomfortable one that more than a few colleagues at places like 'The Hill' and 'Politico' attempted to run away from, with non-committal stories about "jobless aid" failing as a casualty of Congressional bickering.

The facts are clear, however, in all three of these cases.

Republicans in the Senate, led by the petty Sen. Mitch McConnell, abandoned their fellow Americans yesterday. West Virginians also made their own poisoned river over the last twenty years - with serious help from corporations tied to Koch industries and the Koch family.

As for Gov. Christie, it's obvious where the responsibility for his problems came from. It's also obvious the buck never stops with him.

It just stops, in a non-committal way.