Whether Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey knew or ordered the closing of the George Washington bridge by a compliant civil servant to punish the mayor of Fort Lee because he did not endorse the governor in his recent bid for re-election, the disclosure smells worse than a dozen skunk road-kill on a hot august night.
There are some basic things that do not happen when people in the employ of a political person, at whatever level, are not such sycophants as to be merely pawns in that person's ambitions. No political operative worth his "salt" would agree to such a serious abuse of power, and certainly no political leader, especially one aspiring to the highest office in the land, would even conceive of such an act.
And when we look around at the stories emerging from city hall, in too many towns and cities, on both sides of the 49th parallel, and stretch our gaze into the governor's mansion in New Jersey,
we witness stories that erode whatever vestiges of public confidence that were still extant in the political process.
Has there been a race to the "bottom" of political behaviour, riding on the narcissistic ambitions of people willing to submit to the kind of scrutiny that political life brings with it, not only through social media but also through the "investigative" reporting of gossip columnists.
The Mayor of Toronto is currently waging a comeback campaign from statements, actions, apologies and even video of threats that will provide a template for other miscreant politicians who seek to recoup their loss of reputation and regain public office.
If Christie's latest boondoggle, amateurish and at best, "stupid," dogs his attempt at a presidential run in 2016, he will have no one but himself to thank....And in this case, the e-mail trail may well be his undoing.
Perhaps we need to send our political leaders back to school, and inculcate some guidance that could alter their motives and their ambitions, from self-service to public service, from photo-ops to real legislation for people falling through the cracks of the social safety net, the employment lines, and the ghetto streets.
Self-service, in the cause of personal political ambition is nothing more or less than the kind of narcissism that drives rock-stars, who have no responsibility for their actions, unless and until their "fans" learn about some indiscretions. We do not want and cannot tolerate "rock stars" as incipient presidents, and in order to break that culture, we need to educate those sycophants who have so tied their wagon to the heels of their "boss" than one becomes confused as to whether we are operating in the rock star culture or that of the mob. There is really no difference between the two. And the public interest in served by neither.
By Andrew Zurcher, BBC News Echo Chamber, January 8, 2014
On Wednesday, emails
revealed that one of the governor's senior staff members ordered a political
appointee to close lanes of a major bridge to New York City in order to punish
the mayor of a New Jersey town who refused to endorse the governor in his
It's the kind of obvious alleged abuse of power that would resonate with most
Americans, and which could prove very damaging if it can be directly tied to Mr
Christie. There is hardly anyone who doesn't know what it's like to be stuck in
traffic. The claim that ordinary citizens were forced to endure additional
inconveniences because a New Jersey politician (or his staff) wanted to flex
political muscle is fairly inflammatory.
The Bergen County Record's website, NorthJersey.com, reports
that traffic caused by the lane closures delayed emergency medical responders
from reaching four patients - one of whom, a 91-year-old woman, later died at a
Mr Christie has been widely tipped as a potential frontrunner for the 2016
Republican presidential nomination, so the latest developments in this story
quickly brought out commentators on the left and the right. The outrage (and
glee) from liberals was as obvious as it was predictable