Our story thus far: Back in September, lanes on the George Washington Bridge, which links New York City with New Jersey, were closed for no apparent reason. It turns out that the lanes were closed on the orders of staffers for Gov. Chris Christie (R-N.J.), who did it to punish the mayor of Ft. Lee for not supporting their boss in his easy bid for re-election.
The mind boggles for all sorts of reasons, none more obvious than this: How in the hell does freezing traffic for hours and miles for schoolchildren, truckers, and commuters punish a mayor? Among many other things, this revenge plan makes no fucking sense at all. As a proud New Jersey native, I've gotta say that this is something you'd expect from idiot Long Islanders, not whip-smart Garden Staters.
Here are four things to remember about Bridgeghazigate.
1. This is a big frickin' deal, but ultimately only for the NYC metro crowd. If you're familiar with the greater NYC metro area, you know what chronic traffic fatigue does to a person. It makes them ornery, annoyed, and one missed light away from snapping into a rage worthy of Tony Soprano. The idea that anyone anywhere would do anything to make traffic worse is virtually inconceivable. Having said that, even for most of New Jersey, much less the rest of the country, could give a rat's ass. I mean, everyone hates New Yorkers and the Jersey folk dependent for work and meaning on the Big Apple. I guarantee you that people below, say, Interstate 195, which bisects the state between Trenton and Belmar, mostly laughed at the traffic jam. Whadda they expect, living near NY?
2. It shows that Gov. Christie is surrounded by total idiots. As of this moment, there's no evidence showing that Chris Christie had direct or even subsequent knowledge of what the hell was going on. Still, that he would be working with people capable of such ill-conceived plans reflects extremely poorly on him. Given his press conference yesterday—itself a deeply depressing spectacle that showed the governor to be a self-absorbed baby—there's no wiggle room going forward: If it comes out that he knew about Bridgeghazigate and/or signed off on it, he might be moving into a bachelor pad with reviled former New Jersey Gov. Jim McGreevey.
3. This will have next to no effect on Christie's run for the GOP nomination.
Assuming that nothing more surfaces about Christie's involvement, this episode will have absolutely zero impact on whether Christie ultimately wins the Republican nomination for president in 2016. This is the classic case of a mountain being made out of a molehill and no one will give a good goddamn about this by the end of the month, much less 2016. It may weaken Christie's hand as governor a bit, but that's about it. And for god's sake, it did drown out much of the fallout of former Defense Secretary Bob Gate's scathing indictment of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. That's a far more important story, both now and in terms of the future.
4. Christie's record in New Jersey will be the real issue—and the real problem—in his run for the GOP nomination. Christie has proposed and signed off on budgets that have increased spending every year he's been in office (his budgets start FY2011; see page 71). He is a classic big-spending Republican who absolutely loves to shower tax breaks on favored corporate citizens, even when the projects they are pursuing have failed any sort of market test. If he's ultimately weak on the sort of fiscal rectitude that the GOP faithful will be looking for in a president, he's also weak-kneed on social issues in a way that will frustrate both social cons and moderates. He refused to come out in favor of (or against!) marriage equality, instead pushing for a statewide vote on the matter. He's bad on medical marijuana (see video below) and, as a former prosecutor, he's even worse on recreational pot. When it comes to foreign policy, he's essentially a cipher who seems willing to play along with a hawkish status quo. Again, that may win him some primary votes among GOP voters but that will also cost him dearly among the growing non-interventionists in the party of Lincoln and not go over terribly well with a general electorate that will be even more war-weary two years from now.
Watch "'Don't Let My Daughter Die, Governor!': Chris Christie vs. Medical Marijuana":