“The highway’s jammed with broken heroes…”

08 Jan
January 8, 2014

He knew.

We can say this now with certainty if we ask ourselves one basic question about human nature:  What good does it do a political operative to screw over the opposition if you can’t then tell your boss about it?  Where is the  joy for any lickspittle hack in the office hierarchy if he or she can’t pull off a dirty trick against a political adversary, then walk down the hall and tell the boss just how well you did on his behalf?  What would be the point?

I’ve actually found New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s bluster and anger to be endearing at times, if only for the plain-speaking insistence on results.  I don’t find anger to be a particularly negative trait when that anger is offered on behalf of others, nor do I regard argument as anything other than a worthy endeavor if the argument is actually about something.  I didn’t agree with Mr. Christie on any number of issues, but I found him credible as a public servant.  He reminded me in some respects of the late Maryland Governor and Baltimore Mayor William Donald Schaefer — Mayor Annoyed as we knew him, the angriest, melon-headedest white man in our tarnished state’s political firmament.  “Do It Now,” was Mr. Schaefer’s daily mantra, and while he could be stubborn and bullying at points — and petty and juvenile at his worst moments — he got quite a bit done during his tenure.  My city and state could have done a lot worse with more restrained and thoughtful leadership.

But even Mr. Schaefer’s petulance and childishness had its limits.  He might read a letter to the editor from a complaining citizen and call that individual in a cranky rage.  He might tell reporters off-the-record to go fuck themselves and their editors.  He might play every all-in-the-game political angle to reward friends and harm adversaries and take pride in the result.  He would not, however, snarl some Maryland traffic purposely, endangering residents of his state, to achieve the most petty kind of payback.  He wouldn’t purposely set his state’s performance back for a petty and vicious comeuppance.  Mayor Annoyed had spent too many years filling potholes to dig any of his own, for any reason.

For that kind of behavior you need someone really, really small.  For the anger and argument to become that self-absorbed and infantile, you need someone with even more selfish insecurity and fractured ego than Mr. Schaefer could offer.  You need someone who saw himself as being not only larger than the sum of his constituents, but larger than the commonweal itself.  Add in the potential for actually harming innocent people — ambulances unable to reach calls, school buses unable to transport children — and you have something that leaves the Schaefers of the political world entirely incapable.  For this kind of petty venality, you have to look to a Huey Long or a Richard Nixon, someone for whom any fealty to democratic processes and public service no longer matters when personal ambition and aggrandizement are at stake.

Think on this:  A 91-year-old woman in Fort Lee, New Jersey, unreachable by an ambulance with life-support equipment caught in a traffic jam engineered as Governor Christie’s retribution for the denial of a political endorsement, died later that day at an area hospital.  I’d like to know her name.  I’d like to see her photograph.  I’d like to hear from her family.  I’d like the governor to know her name, to see her photograph, to visit with and apologize to her family.  He owes them that much.

Because he knew.

If Mr. Christie didn’t order this mayhem himself, then he knew because the aides who achieved this carnage on his behalf were so successful in doing so that they could not have possibly held their silence.  Not over the course of four long days of maintaining the traffic snarl in Fort Lee. All of us who have worked in an office, who have experienced institutional hierarchy, who have seen the wages of unthinking loyalty to the boss — we know this much.  The same kind of people who would embark on such an action would not be able to do anything but run right down the hall to tell the governor how they had delivered pain to his political enemy.  They would then wait on their attaboy.  People of that ilk live for the attaboy.   Like cats with a fresh-caught mouse, they were bringing home a prize.  And there’s no joy for any housecat if the prize can’t be displayed to the master of the house.

I’m sorry for Mr. Christie, who seems in his better moments to be something of a leader.  But anger and argument lose all charm when they are employed for stakes so small, stupid and selfish.  He knew.  And he’s lying about it now.

132 replies
  1. Julie says:

    I’m happy to see David has not taken offense, and welcomes debate. Hat’s off – the more voices the better!
    It’s been great reading the back-and-forths… It’s like a zipper-dick conundrum… No one wins while your dick is still stuck in your zipper. Although I wouldn’t know… I don’t have a dick.

    Reply
  2. Iafifa says:

    Nice writing. You speak like a true logical person, and I do not see this kind of attitude in today’s writers. Thank you

    Reply
  3. Jackie says:

    Not only do I believe he knew, but doubling down on a denial exposed his smallness. That moment, that first press conference, was an opportunity to do the right thing, to expose a vein and let it bleed, clot, heal. Instead, he chose to lie, to cover up, to fire people, throw them under the bus, then back up the bus and run over them again. At least now we know he isn’t presidential material.

    Reply
  4. Nameless Smokehound says:

    As a working class pro-Union democrat, I’m kind of ashamed to say I like Christie. Maybe because the standard of Republican politicians has been lowered so much that just being sane qualifies a “good” one, maybe because he strikes me as honest. But this bridge shit is appalling. Not necessarily for the action itself, I mean, I actually detour a half hour to avoid that bitch on my drive home from CT to Philly and back, and God knows there’s really not much more you can do to make the GDub any worse. On its best day it’s still suicide provoking. No, what makes this whole thing to awful is its an amateur and stupid political move, one that anyone seeking the White House would never try to pull off. Much, much, much better and more subtle ways to pull off political punishment. And if he didn’t know well what does that say about leadership? Yeah fuckin right, of course he knew. So much for honesty.

    Reply
  5. Brian in Sacramento says:

    After spending way too much time reading things related to the so-called “Bridgegate” story, there are a few things that I’d like to add here.

    First, there was another interesting theory–or additional strand of an already existing theory?–put forward a few days ago by Steve Kornacki, a journalist at MSNBC who spent much of his career reporting on New Jersey politics. While I largely dislike MSNBC (and most of cable tv “news” for that matter), Mr. Kornacki seems knowledgeable and worth listening to. He suggests that the closures of lanes in Fort Lee could be related to a $1 billion dollar redevelopment project currently underway in Fort Lee on land that has been vacant for decades and sits directly adjacent to the lanes in question–a project who’s viability is directly tied to easy access to the George Washington Bridge.

    Here’s video where Mr. Kornacki put his theory forward:

    http://www.huffingtonpost.com/2014/01/12/steve-kornacki-chris-christie-bridge-scandal_n_4585830.html

    Again, if true, this would still seem to put the lane closures in the “retribution specifically targeting Mayor Sokolich” category–Mr. Kornacki still leaves open the possibility of some other target. Somebody already posted the Maddow theory of this being revenge directed at Senator Weinberg for blocking a specific judge which seems a bit more far-fetched.

    Second, if this was retribution directed at Mayor Sokolich, this would then likely be predicated on him having not endorsed Governor Christie for reelection per the prevailing theory, correct? Again, my recollection is that Sokolich maintained initially that he could not recall a specific request to endorse Governor Christie. However, a few days later the New York Times, indicated that Sokolich was specifically asked for an endorsement (near the beginning of this article: http://www.nytimes.com/2014/01/13/nyregion/a-bridge-to-scandal-behind-the-fort-lee-ruse.html?ref=todayspaper). Is there an inconsistency here that requires some sort of follow up? Was Sokolich actually asked to endorse Christie? This seems like something important to iron out.

    And a final note, Mr. Kornacki’s theory suggests some kind of pre-existing interest in Fort Lee’s three access lanes onto the George Washington Bridge and whether or not Fort Lee should have three lanes. Is this worth following up on? Was there some traffic study or “test” of some sort going on here? Was that just cover for retribution? There seems to be evidence in the Bridgegate document dump that Mr Wildstein and several other people were on site monitoring “mainline traffic” during the morning commute over the George Washington Bridge at different points while the lane closures were in place.

    Again, this doesn’t prove or disprove political retribution. Why did the lane closures continue for several days? Also, my understanding is that a traffic engineer initially suggested closing one lane as a test–a suggestion which Mr. Wildstein did not accept leading to the closure of two lanes. And why did Mayor Sokolich’s requests for help directed to the New Jersey officials of the Port Authority go unanswered?

    Well, I think I’ve carried this comment well past Mr. Simon’s original point. If there’s something important I’ve left out of this, something I’ve overlooked or not considered which is very likely the case, please let me know.

    Cheers.

    Reply
    • Les says:

      Rachel Maddow’s theory seems to ignore the actual communication between the people involved. If it wasn’t about the Mayor of Fort Lee, why did Mr. Wildstein forward his pleas to members of Chris Christie’s staff?

      As for Mr. Kornacki’s idea, I think he’s trying to reach too far in building an idea that the closure “must be about something greater”.

      Some envision elaborate political plots and dream of politicians moving people like chess pieces when it’s really just petty actions and that’s all I believe was behind the decision. They were pulling on Mayor Sokolich’s lease to remind him who was in charge. The Port Authority, like most government services, will always be there and people will always complain but the Mayor is the one who can pay the price for public outrage.

      Reply
  6. Katie says:

    Just wondering if you saw the Jimmy Fallon/Bruce Springsteen Born to Run parody about this. Pretty funny.

    http://www.rawstory.com/rs/2014/01/15/springsteen-joins-jimmy-fallon-in-hilarious-born-to-run-parody-mocking-christie/

    Reply
  7. Liz Stuart says:

    Christie is no different from the rest of the Republican Party thugs who are holding our country hostage to squeeze every last penny out of us to deposit in the pockets of the Koch brothers and the rest of the 0.00001% whose sole purpose in life is to screw us to add zeros onto the end of their bank account balances.

    If you want to end up as serf on a corporate plantation, vote Republican.

    Reply
    • David Simon says:

      Can we make an argument that advances this through a more meaningful prism than political partisanship.

      Neither left nor right have a monopoly on the misuse and abuse of political power.

      I would hold this punitive four-day traffic jam in equal contempt if it were the machination of a Democrat or a libertarian or a Marxist.

      Reply
      • Laser (the Liquidator) Haas says:

        Concur!

        Manifest injustices are wrongs intolerable by left, right and/or center/whatever!

        Reply
      • Japaves says:

        Mr. Simon,

        Much as I admire your work and this post, which expresses the truth about Christie more eloquently and succinctly than anything else I’ve read about “Bridgegate,” this specific response is a false equivalency.

        It wasn’t a Democrat or a libertarian or a Marxist who closed the lanes. This is not a case of “everyone does it” or “all politicians are guilty of something” or “both sides are equally at fault.” Noting that the Republican Party as currently constituted (and funded by extremists such as the Koch Brothers) is more riven by scandal and payback than their competitors is not viewing “Bridgegate” through the lens of political partisanship so much as it is an accurate response to the pattern of Republican governance (or anti-governance) for at least the previous 35 years.

        Neither the left nor right may have a monopoly on wrongdoing, but the verifiable pattern of wrongdoing since the beginning of the W. Bush administration skews heavily toward the Republicans. The Congressional Record is quite clear on this point: the number of Ethics Committee censures is a nearly 4:1 rout in favor of Republicans, and that’s merely at the federal level. Yale Law School’s 2011 report on political corruption and David Cole’s analyses concur: there’s far more documentable fraud by Republican legislators and officials than anyone else.

        Liz’s reference to serfs is cheerful hyperbole, but her overall point is not, to my mind, partisan bickering. She’s merely acknowledging reality.

        That said, your analysis and other comments in this thread may be more meaningful insofar as they note the sheer pettiness and smallness of Christie and his cronies, as well as the base impulses that drive them, which are certainly not limited to Republicans.

        But “Bridgegate” is yet one more example of Republican scandal, thievery, and payback that have become so common as to be political wallpaper: we rarely notice their extent anymore, on a day-to-day level, meaning that they barely qualify as news because there’s nothing new about them. Such bad behavior by Republicans has become so pervasive that it’s normalized, expected, usual.

        It isn’t partisan to note this trend. Even my mother, a lifelong Republican, frequently notes it, which is only anecdotal evidence, but still revealing (to me, at least).

        Despite my disagreement here, thanks for the great work, for The Wire, for introducing Michael B. Jordan to us, and for Treme’s marvelous final run.

        Sincerely,

        Jason Vest

        Reply
  8. BarbCarmel says:

    Was sent over by David Plotz.
    Terrific and thoughtful discussion of the problem of how to get things done/govern in a democracy.
    Comparison with Schaefer was apt and made the point of caring about one’s constituents.
    IMHO, the GOP’s strategy is to threaten to injure citizens to get what they want. Heretofore, when citizens are injured (shutdowns, etc.), their bet is that they can blame it on Dems/big government. This time it did not work. I think that Fort Lee traffic resonates because it is emblematic of GOP hostage taking.

    From here, Christie’s denials don’t dispel the contempt he has for the welfare of his constituents. Whether he ordered the traffic cones specifically or not, he set a culture in which the welfare of his constituents was not motivating. Let’s say that someone (Wildstein/Kelly/etc.) had psychotic break and made up the traffic study on his/her own. Then, on day one, the traffic was horrible and reports started reaching Christie appointees at Port Authority and Christie staff in Trenton. Guess what, some collection of responsible people who cared about constituents’ welfare would have unsnarled the psychotic break and would have had the traffic cones taken down. The fact that this did not happen, tells us about the culture.

    Also have to point out gender bias. As we all know, when a person is going under the bus, everyone’s first choice is “can we throw a woman?” Note in the press conference that Bridget Anne Kelly was referred to by her first name (as a servant) and Bill Stupien was referred to as Mr. Stupien. Note that the supposed offense of both of them was not “fessing up” when asked. Some things never change.

    Reply
    • David Simon says:

      Given that she was not a Buono voter, she certainly didn’t get the best constitutent service.

      Reply
      • tom says:

        All the same, it takes a lot of the sting out of your plea to emotion. Petty? Yes. Dangerous? Hardly. You’re liberal, you dislike Christie’s political stance, so you will exaggerate to make your point, and make conclusions without proof.

        Reply
        • Laser (the Liquidator) Haas says:

          And you will obviously ignore the FACTS, due in no small part to your bias against liberals.

          Real smart plan you got there!

          Reply
        • David Simon says:

          I believe he is lying. Occam’s razor is not a dull blade for all of us. That doesn’t make me a prosecutor with smoking-gun proof. Or a juror weighing that evidence. It makes me an observant man with an opinion as to a public person’s behavior. But good news, Tom, this is only a blog, not a courthouse. And it is well within the bounds of human opinion to look at the way in which human behavior, chronology and motive array themselves and say you don’t believe an implausible story. I have done so.

          My liberality and Christie’s ideology might have something to do with it. Or not. That ad hominem, I will point out, is offered by you without proof of its relevance, yet you offer it nonetheless while whining that I have ventured my own opinion without definitive proof. That makes you intellectually dishonest at best, and, well, a complete hypocrite at worst. Classic pot-kettle moment there, kiddo.

          Reply
  9. Nick says:

    I appreciate the overall theme of this post, but I cringe whenever I see someone justifying Christie’s bullying, bloviating, blustering style because he “gets results” or “insists on results.” His record disproves that wholly, if you look at it. As a Jersey resident, this state has slid even further backwards under his governance. His only success has been vilifying public education/educators and getting so many of the state Democrats (altogether a joke in this state) to kiss the ring consistently.

    Reply
  10. kt says:

    “I have had no contact with David Wildstein in a long time…well before the election”

    The lies stack up, and the plot thickens.

    http://blogs.wsj.com/metropolis/2014/01/14/christie-official-who-arranged-bridge-closures-together-during-fiasco/

    Reply
  11. CIEC says:

    “If Mr. Christie didn’t order this mayhem himself, then he knew because the aides who achieved this carnage on his behalf were so successful in doing so that they could not have possibly held their silence…The same kind of people who would embark on such an action would not be able to do anything but run right down the hall to tell the governor how they had delivered pain to his political enemy. They would then wait on their attaboy.”

    That may have been what they planned on happening. But there’s also the possibility that over the course of the four days they realized how stupid their plan was and that it wasn’t something that was going to help Christie. And so they realized it wouldn’t be a good idea to attempt to seek his approval. That’s my guess as to what happened. Somewhat would have to be an incredibly stupid politician to think that something like this would benefit him. Whatever you think of Christie, it’s clear he isn’t stupid.

    Reply
    • David Simon says:

      “Over the course of four days…”

      And therein you lose me, completely. Think about how long four days of traffic mayhem is in terms of civic life. You’re saying they realized how stupid their plan was, yet they didn’t rush to lift the cones, or to start taking the phone calls of the Fort Lee officials, ameleorating concerns? Bullshit, son. It goes on for four days because they like what they are achieving for that long. In fact, it only ended not because of an action by the governor’s office, but because the NY side of the Port Authority looked at it and said this is outrageous. They stopped it. Otherwise it would have been more than 96 hours.

      There is not a shred of evidence that anyone in the governor’s office had second thoughts, even after four days. And you want me to believe that no one went down the hall and shared a smile with the governor? Not in four days of wrecking the traffic pattern in a city where the governor had political scores to settle. Sorry, I can’t be that much of a dupe.

      Reply
      • Laser Haas says:

        “Sorry, I can’t be that much of a dupe”

        Is a priceless remark – Mr. Simon;
        apropos to many an occasion.

        Including the current Fullerton Cop didn’t use unnecessary force verdict.

        Shheeeesssshhh! – The whole world is upside down!

        Reply
        • James Israel says:

          There’s one factor in all of this that I can’t figure out: why did it take 4 long days before what I can only imagine was incredible anger finally get the attention of the PA? Even the ‘heroic’ NY official who voiced his dismay and got the cones removed waited 4 days before objecting. He must have been on the receiving end of some blistering outrage before then, unless he was out of town. Everybody at the PA — and they’re obviously not all Christie cronies — couldn’t have missed this disaster for all that time, right? It just doesn’t make any sense.

          Reply
        • kt says:

          From what I understand, it’s nearly impossible to convict a cop of any kind of excessive force. Basically all the cop has to establish is that he either felt his own life or that of his partner’s to be in potential danger. How does a prosecutor argue against an individual’s personal perception of fear?

          Reply
          • David Simon says:

            His own life, that of his colleagues or fellow citizens: correct That is indeed the standard, albeit his belief for thinking so must be reasonable under the circumstances.

            Reply
          • Laser says:

            Correct – in “general”.

            However, in this case the cops initially tried to cover it up, lied about the events, (purportedly) “bragged” about it in the locker room; and already KNEW the individual in question.

            And please take note, we were there (with funding on the ground, websites and paying people to go around and ask questions). – from the very beginning.

            Once the bus and cell video’s turned into the police video with the officer saying sit on your hands, that put your hands in your lap, then the cop put on latex gloves and turned toward Kelly Thomas and said “I’m going F—- you up with these” (whilst clinching his fist in boxer fashion).

            Excessive force at the barest of minimums.

            Plus, its not the 1st incident in Fullerton (why the head guy was compelled to be relieved of duty).

            I did text Ron Thomas my condolences this morning. He is a man of the highest integrity, who won some very influential persons hearts over – when he turned down the $900,000 hush up money (please bear in mind Ron Thomas is a retired Sheriff – and martial arts Master).

            Just don’t understand our SYG, go to war for BS, kill anyone you may – WORLD (that sucks the whammy).

            Reply
  12. Jim Israel says:

    I just came upon this post [via a column in the Washington Post].

    It’s very well written and original. And, reader comments are generally very intelligent, except for the Benghazi references. [Will they ever stop?]

    I’ll be reading the commentary here regularly.

    Reply
    • tom says:

      So we should drop the references to the Bengali lies that actually cost lives, but give undue national attention to petty political games in a famously corrupt place?

      Reply
      • David Simon says:

        Those fucking Bengalis. First with their tigers, then with their Bay, and now their lies.

        Reply
        • katie says:

          Who dey.

          Reply
          • David Simon says:

            Mr. Tom, in the fever of his partisan ranting, has conflated residents of the Indian state of Bengal with those who inhabit the Libyan city of Benghazi. What he means to say is that Mr. Obama and Ms. Clinton wanted to purposely have Americans killed by Libyans, making it a comparable and much more serious situation than Mr. Christie wanting to actually snarl traffic for four days in a New Jersey borough.

            I assume that’s what he is trying to say. Otherwise, bringing up the tragedy in Benghazi to excuse the purposeful wrecking of Ft. Lee’s traffic pattern is genuinely and astonishingly embarrassing as either logic or rhetoric.

            Reply
      • Laser (the Liquidator) Haas says:

        Bengali is not the topic here; and your “give undue” is by’golly/utterly bogus!

        Reply
  13. Jason says:

    It is a minor and somewhat off topic quibble, but I hate to see Huey Long dumped into the same group as Christie and Nixon. It affirms the old adage that the victors get to write the history. Huey Long’s somewhat dictatorial style of politics was very much a reaction to, and an attempt to wrest power from, the cabal of plantation owners and oil men that had the Louisiana state government, and every newspaper in the state, under their control. Long championed such radical ideas as paved roads, new bridges, public schools, free school books for the children that attended those schools, abolition of the poll tax, free hospitals for the poor, a minimum guaranteed income for everyone, and a government run pension system among other things as governor. Long’s continued advocacy for these radical ideas in the US Senate, and his plans to run for President in 1936, moved Roosevelt to a more populist position and brought us the New Deal. Without Huey Long there probably wouldn’t be any Social Security system. I think with that kind of legacy I can forgive some political patronage and arm twisting. Christie and Nixon, not so much.

    Reply
    • David Simon says:

      You need to read more about Long and his excesses. He began as an inclusive populist, but he believed in nothing more than in himself and his ambitions, and he quickly morphed the government of Louisiana into a debased dictatorship. He didn’t merely champion his friends, or embrace populist positions, he put friends on the payroll, grafted millions in public monies, and destroyed the lives and careers of all who opposed him. His reign in Louisiana was a dry run for American dictatorship. Roosevelt had a lot of other people in his ear in the construct of the New Deal. Frances Perkins mattered far more than Huey Long in that regard, for example. But more important, Long was a completely debased political creature by the end, capable of almost any affront to democratic principles. And it is easy to name progressive and coherent policy victories for Nixon.

      But victories alone cannot justify the subversion of democracy itself. Not for Nixon, or Long, or Mr. Christie.

      Reply
      • Aggie Christ says:

        Spare the patronizing tone, Mr. Simon – you would do well to read more about Long yourself, and while you’re at it, list the “progressive and coherent policy victories” for Nixon. You make no mention of any sources so I’ll cite the definitive – still – biography of Huey Long by T. Harry Williams, winner of the 1970 Pulitzer Prize and the National Book Award. To call Long “debased” while sparing the same epithet for Nixon makes light of Long’s “progressive and coherent policy victories” in health care, education and transportation for impoverished Louisianans. To claim that Nixon made such achievements on a national scale is laughable. There can be little doubt that on key issues, including civil rights and conservation, that Nixon followed the lead of a Congress controlled by Democrats and that any policy initiatives were modest by comparison to what Long achieved in Louisiana.

        Reply
        • David Simon says:

          Have read the Williams book and everything else on Huey and Earl both, right down to the Liebling reporting. Did so in prep for the “Treme”project along with a great deal of other Louisiana subject matter. You have been equivocal in characterizing my comment: I spared Nixon no epithets. Your claim here that I did is, in fact, rhetorically dishonest. Nixon was certainly debased. Indeed, to revisit my precise commentary to which you objected, I put Long and Nixon in the same precise category. It’s you who now seeks to remove Long’s dictatorial corruptions of democracy from the equation.

          You exaggerate and equivocate with my words elsewhere:

          Nixon opened China, or made it so that we were again engaged with a fifth of the world. No Democrat could do that. His war on drugs, while declared as such, was actually the most progressive response to addiction of any modern president, Democratic or Republican. And what did I originally claim for the man? You write that my comparison to Long’s accomplishments is laughable. Yet I made no comparison. I wrote this only: “And it is easy to name progressive and coherent policy victories for Nixon.” As per above.

          That said, I despised Nixon, found his performance in other areas to be retrograde or immoral and thought him overall to have been unfit for office. I am entirely aware of Long’s progressive values and achievements. I am also aware that by the end of his reign, he had put so many Louisiana supporters on the public payroll that the state was hopelessly bankrupt, while at the same time he had vindictively hounded his political enemies and even some political neutrals to their graves. Long’s misuse of police powers alone to trump criminal charges against enemies was exactly Nixonian.

          I put them in the same sentence. Any effort to extricate one or the other from that sentence and hold him aloft is sophistry and a waste of time, in my opinion. But the greater point here is that you ought to be more careful with others’ words when you characterize them. I’m not your straw man. I said what I said and not that which you would prefer that I said or that which can be more easily argued.

          Reply
          • Laser the Liquidator says:

            It is always a waste of time (as I’ve learned the hard way) to try to make logical debates with those hell bent to find fault with you.

            Obfuscation is a bad faith parties No 1 Rule;
            and juxtaposing of facts with BS and innuendo
            remains the 2nd most utilized tactic

            next to ad hominem personal attacks

            that never deal “on-point” sincerely

            Just remember Mr. Simon, those of U.S. who admire you;
            are willing to argue with you enough – already.

            Reply
  14. Mary says:

    Hi David,
    I agree with most of your essay, but I am unsure how much of this mess had to do with the Fort Lee mayor and/or payback for lack of an endorsement.
    I think that our press in NJ and NY is still working on what the actual motive for this fiasco of a “traffic study” may have been…I don’t think that they are quite there yet.
    One theory involves payback to Democrat Loretta Weinberg about judicial appointments, and there is also some talk about a multi-million dollar building project near the bridge.
    More to come I am sure…If only the Governor had taken the time to grill all these departed employees I am sure he could have gotten to the bottom of their motives…Hah!

    Reply
  15. Monica says:

    Color me unsurpised. Christie’s done some good things, especially in his disaster response, but I’ve always percieved an undercurrent of nastiness in him. The tough talking straight shooter facade distills down to a mean-spirited little bully. Even if he didn’t know (and I think he at least had an inkling), the minions knew this sort if thing was right up his alley. Dear god, what if this guy and his staff had access to federal power? Every so often, the powers that be do us a solid.

    Reply
    • Richard McDonough says:

      Undercurrent?
      There have been many public displays fo his nastiness and brutishness. There have also been displays of his reasonably good governance. But the sometimes good governance does not allow the basic lack of adult temperance in the man, one that directly or indirectly led to the episode that endangered and significantly inconvenienced people in a vital population center.

      Reply
  16. dan bloom says:

    Chris Christie and the smoking gun in New Jersey re Bridgegate

    David, seems my intuitive EQ reading of his facial body lingo at press was WRONG: OOPS
    re

    [11/25/13 12:06 PM] David Wildstein: ”Charlie said you did GREAT”
    Notice the last line. “Charlie said you did GREAT.”

    Who is Charlie? The only senior staff member with that name is Charles McKenna, Gov. Christie’s Chief Legal Counsel (they go all the way back together to the US Attorney’s office). The same “Charlie” McKenna who Christie stated today was one of the two people who interrogated his staff and assured him nobody was involved.

    Except, of course, there is real evidence showing that “Charlie” was well aware of this scandal as far back as Nov. 25, 2013 and likely much earlier.

    It’s too bad the press is sleeping on this potential smoking gun.

    Reply
  17. Alan Smith says:

    Is not the Benghazi or IRS issue more worthy of a “He Knew” article? Or does the fact that this maneuver was done over such small stakes, especially compared to the previously mentioned examples, make it a higher interest to write about due to the comedic, “I can’t believe someone would risk so much for so little,” angle? Genuine question here.

    Thank you

    Reply
    • dan bloom says:

      Chris Christie and the smoking gun in New Jersey re Bridgegate

      seems my intuitive EQ reading of his facial body lingo at press was WRONG: OOPS
      re

      [11/25/13 12:06 PM] David Wildstein: ”Charlie said you did GREAT”
      Notice the last line. “Charlie said you did GREAT.”

      Who is Charlie? The only senior staff member with that name is Charles McKenna, Gov. Christie’s Chief Legal Counsel (they go all the way back together to the US Attorney’s office). The same “Charlie” McKenna who Christie stated today was one of the two people who interrogated his staff and assured him nobody was involved.

      Except, of course, there is real evidence showing that “Charlie” was well aware of this scandal as far back as Nov. 25, 2013 and likely much earlier.

      It’s too bad the press is sleeping on this potential smoking gun.

      Reply
    • David Simon says:

      Really wrongheaded attempt at false equivalency.

      In Mr. Christie’s case, he’s been caught abusing his office for political gain. There is an advantage to his bad behavior. What advantage do you think Mr. Obama was hoping to glean from having Americans killed in Benghazi? Or Ms. Clinton? There was none. Zero. No advantage at all. At most you are alleging that they could or should have done more to prevent an act of violence and terror. Dubious and unproven, but even if proven, what does it say about the misuse of power? Mr. Christie stands accused of having his office personally involved in harming constitutents for political gain. Are you seriously claiming that any American office holder was seeking the deaths of anyone in Benghazi? For what gain? Get a grip. Seriously.

      As to the IRS, there is no scandal. None. Zero. The initial claims that the IRS actions were targeted at conservative groups proved to be false. They were targeted at all groups — conservative and liberal both — utilizing a given tax status. The IRS was attempting to inquire with groups across the political spectrum to do the appropriate work of the agency in making sure that groups were claiming a tax status legitimately. And, further, no connection existed between the White House and the IRS initiative. But don’t let any of that worry you.

      Changing the subject is always fun as political maneuver, but it might help to actually have something of substance to offer.

      Reply
    • kt says:

      I do think the pettiness of it is part of why it’s so damning. These people deliberately undermined the publicly-funded infrastructure, endangered people’s lives and safety, and interfered with the practice of a religious holiday — for what? To stick to to someone for failing to provide an endorsement that didn’t even ultimately matter?

      It may seem like “just a traffic jam”, but they violated the public trust, and the basic principle of governmental leadership, without going through the proper channels of review and approval. That can’t be tolerated. It also provokes the question of, if someone would do this over such a small slight, what havoc would they wreak to punish someone that had truly crossed them? I hate to think.

      It’s particularly destructive to Christie, who’s always promoted an image of himself as a reasonable if tough-talking centrist. With this maneuver he’s exposed himself to be just as willing to drive the government into a ditch as the most intractable Tea Partier. Take the reins away!

      Reply
      • Merlin says:

        Christie is a Rove henchman who came from a prosecutor’s career. For most of his works senor Chris is known as a deal-maker who will slaughter any thing and anyone to advance himself. He has always betrayed the public’s trust and will continue to do so.

        Reply
  18. Other David says:

    I’m not convinced that he knew. But I am convinced that he expected his staff to act in this way. The political culture that supports reprisals was almost certainly Chris Christie’s creation. He hired the sharks and then he poured the blood in the water. Now that someone has been bitten he is trying to use the plausible deniability card. Those evil stupid sharks, how dare they!

    Reply
  19. Susie says:

    The fish stinks from the head down.

    Whether he knew or not there was an atmosphere of tacit approval for the decision that was made or it never would have happened.

    I find myself wondering whether the person or people who actually initiated the bridge closure had any concept of the negative and dangerous reverberation of that action? I question the intelligence – intellectual and emotional – of anyone who would do something like this as part of their working day and consider it a job well done.

    Unless they are secretly working as a henchman for a comic book villain.

    Maybe it’s too much to ask but I think that Chris Christie needs to take responsibility for the fact that this bullshit came out of his office. The buck should stop with him not narrowly miss him as he runs to distance himself from the fall out – Serpentine! Serpentine!

    I’m firmly moderate in my politics and I am not by any means doing a shadenfreude jig as Christie goes down. I know that we are all flawed and fallible but it seems that election to public office metastasizes those flaws, or perhaps it just increases the chances that they will be revealed to the whole world.

    It’s happened before and it will happen again – what’s always true is the character of an individual is most apparent in how they handle it.

    The fish stinks from the head down.

    Reply
  20. SA says:

    What most offends me is Christie’s mockery of an ordinary working joe, his disdain for manual labor. When he scoffs, in his denial of his involvement back in December, “I worked the cones. Unbeknownst to everybody, I was actually the guy out there. I was in overalls and hat, but I was actually the guy working the cones out there. You really are not serious with that question?” he is pointing out how very superior he is to the poor schmucks who actually do go out in all kinds of weather, risking their lives in traffic, to put out the cones. This does not jibe with his persona of being a common man, the tough-talking Jersey guy image. Approachable. Someone you could have a beer with.This comment tells me that he is so far above that perceived “low” position of cone-worker, that he uses it as a jest. Who are you going to start mocking next, Mr. Christie…janitors? School bus drivers? Crossing guards? Waste disposal workers? My dad taught me that it’s not what you do for a living it’s how you do it. And how you live your life. Really. What a classist snob our Governor is.

    Reply
  21. Slash says:

    Sorry for the ignorance, but, Dallas, Texas here. This shit went on for 4 days? I just now heard about that bit. I thought it was a one-day thing.

    Sounds like somebody is due some serious bills for lost productivity, wasted fuel costs, etc.

    And FWIW, I’ve always thought of Christie as a straight-up asshole. Those kinds of people can sometimes be amusing, but they shouldn’t be in charge of things.

    Reply
  22. kt says:

    Yeah, I’m a little surprised that anyone buys that politicians or political aides do ANYTHING that requires work and effort, if they weren’t either specifically instructed to do so, or weren’t pretty damn certain it would please their superiors and advance their own career. People don’t get into politics because they’re all that eager to buck the system. Are we supposed to believe that all of Christie’s top aides are closet anarchists?

    As a staunch Democrat (ride or die), I’m just pleased that Christie never switched parties. It would have been expedient for him given his poll numbers, and I always kind of wanted him to, as I liked his personality well enough (clearly the new American political motto should be “never trust a person you’d like to have a beer with”). He was the GOP’s best bet for recapturing the middle, so thanks for handing us 2016 on a platter, Guv’nah.

    The irony is that if he were a more typical GOPer he could probably get away with this. It’s not like the party values integrity much these days, or even keeping the government functioning — witness the recent federal shutdown. But he made his name as the “honest Republican” who tells it like it is, and that’s the noose around his neck now.

    (Upon hearing of this scandal, I immediately had a vision of Christie as Tommy Carcetti screaming at his staffers, “you’ll drop on your swords, so help me!!” — so this blog is particularly rich.)

    Reply
      • David Simon says:

        Yup. That’s three on a match.

        1) Why would an aide do this and not seek the attaboy?
        2) Why would Mr. Christie, if blindsided yesterday as he claimed, not seek an answer from his deputy chief of staff as to who told her to do such a thing to Fort Lee?
        3) Who is Charlie on the governor’s staff, and why would he be pleased with what had happened in Fort Lee?

        The press has done a poor job thus far of focusing on what Mr. Christie has actually offered in his apology and how little it comports to the actual terrain.

        Reply
        • CIEC says:

          The text from Charlie was from November 25th, directly after Wildstein testified about the traffic jam at a legislative committee. He was clearly referring to the testimony and not the traffic jam itself, which occurred two and a half months earlier.

          Reply
          • David Simon says:

            I’m referring to emails not from “Charlie” but between others that reference his satisfaction with status quo. This text is contemporaneous with the actual traffic jam, according to the news accounts.

            Reply
    • tom says:

      I doubt “you” have been handed anything. Let the record speak for itself on a Democrat VIC and majority in the Senate. Pretty rough. Billary will have plenty of questions to answer, and, as of today, Christie still enjoys > 65 percent approval in his home state.

      Reply
  23. dan bloom says:

    David, you are 93 percent certain he knew. I am 93 percent certain he did NOT know. why? his facial body language during press con last night in CNN saw it live here in Taiwan. He did not know. then again, NYT editorial agrees with you.

    Reply
    • David Simon says:

      Neither of us can know, of course. But I have little regard for using the public performance of politicians as a measure of their credibility. At the level of Mr. Christie and others holding statewide or national office, these are polished public personages; they’ve made careers of the personal sale. No, I am more attentive to the logic of an office full of aides laboring to punish a political adversary for 96 hours straight and succeeding — and no one ever indicating to the boss man that they were having such success on his behalf. That’s not a credible or plausible institutional dynamic in my estimation.

      Reply
      • dan bloom says:

        David, your logic is correct re how could have NOT have known, logically, 93 percent wins. But my reading his facial body language on the presser, while not logic, is intuitive. on va voir. could go either way. if he was lying at the press con he will get caught. if he was really telling the truth, well, miracles do happen! SMILE . i am sitting on the fence. body lingo vs logic. 1 + 1 = 1?

        Reply
        • David Simon says:

          I paid far more attention to his answer to the question about whether he spoke to his deputy chief of staff before firing her. He did not ask her where the idea to wreck Fort lee’s traffic pattern came from. He did not want to speak with her, claiming alternately that because she lied to him earlier he was too dissapointed to inquire further of her, or later in the press conference, that he didn’t want to be accused of witness tampering.

          At this point, of course, she is no witness. She is the employee who is up to her neck in this and you are firing her. How, if you are concerned about getting to the bottom of this, do you not ask her simply, “Who told you to do such a thing to Fort Lee?” That omission is the sound of a man who already knows the answer to his question, and he wants to keep the firewall intact, I believe. If she was told to do so by an intermediary even closer to Mr. Christie, then why advance the story by allowing her to answer. Better to go in front of the cameras and claim ignorance of all. And later, when she does give up the next rung in the ladder, well, watch the intermediary deny all. And maybe there won’t be emails to take it higher up the chain. That’s the defensive play here.

          If I was Mr. Christie and I truly had no clue who put such a vicious, moronic plan into play, I would be asking as many questions as I could, making all accountable and then going out to face the cameras with a precise explanation of where it began — not to mention proof positive that it did not begin with me. He did exactly the opposite at that press conference. He asked no relevant questions about how this happened. None. He said simply, it happened, I don’t know why or how and I’m too sad and disappointed to have made even the most fundamental and basic effort to answer those questions to my own understanding or satisfaction, but rest assured, it wasn’t me.

          You want to go with body language over content, fine. But that’s a sucker’s bet. Half of America thought Nixon’s Checkers speech was sincere. So much for the net worth of any layman’s intuition.

          And by the way, just so I make clear that my disappointments can be bipartisan, Obama’s pretty sincere and human in his demeanor when facing the people. But if you believe that the NSA was recklessly monitoring other world leaders without presidential knowledge, well, hey, name your price on the GW Bridge and I’ll let it go to you with a ten-percent discount. That lie also makes no sense, regardless of how well it is told. The tell-tale there is that he says he happened to find out about the monitoring and cease the effort at, oh, the same time that Mr. Snowden took wing to Hong Kong. Curious chronological coincidences trump presidential body language in my book, just as gubernatorial lapses in basic curiosity and investigative procedure do.

          Reply
          • dan bloom says:

            well said, David and i see your points. you are most likely
            right on this. i am a sucker for EQ intuitive stuff but am almost
            always wrong. future will tell.

            Reply
          • Lez says:

            It was interesting to see how his press conference was littered with talking points that could be used to defend him and dismiss his critics.

            From his speech we should think that Governor Christie was the real victim because the people he trusted lied to him. He has sixty-five thousand employees and he can’t be expected to know what they are all doing. The Mayor of Fort Lee isn’t important enough for the governor to want retribution against. Mayor Fulop is a rabble-rouser who doesn’t get along with anyone. The Port Authority is full of partisan politics, the same type of politics he coincidentally has been speaking out against.

            It was far too slick of a performance to convince me that he is an innocent bystander. If he had held this press conference on September 15th and it was about a State Trooper who got caught smoking pot on the job I might buy it but not a full day after it was connected to his office.

            There does seem to be a shift to a The Gods Must Be Crazy defense for politicians where they want to join in with the public in figuring out just what is going on. “I’m far too ignorant of what is going on in my administration to have played a role in these events”.

            Reply
          • LaserDLiquidator says:

            Concur;

            C. C. took a day to get his ducks in a row; and then came out with this “no way in hell did I know” stance.

            This one person was agreed to be the sacrificial lamb and is getting her home in Costa Rica built as a result.

            She knows TOO Much about all the inner workings to not have agreed to this “fall on her sword” routine of she’s the only one who knew.

            Reply
      • 1st Lt Diablo says:

        Rational actor theory… I get it. It’s what moves TV writers so often. But, the fact remains that many people don’t behave rationally; they just do shit. Homme moyen is stupid and mostly reflexive/reactionary. And if you read any Robert Trivers or Robert Kurban you might see that we all behave emotionally; with the smarter of us only crafting a really convincing logical rationale for it post hoc.

        Anyway; I mostly agree with you but I prefer some acknowledgment that recent neurobiology and evolutionary psychology data has shown human beings are not all that logical; and idiopathic prompts can determine behavior as often as rational outcome debates inside the CNS.

        For example judges are more likely to give harsher sentences to convicts if the judge is hungry. I pressed my attorney to get me on the docket early in the AM for this very reason. Yeah my lawyer’s arguments mattered but the judge still being sated from his breakfast mattered more I think ;)

        Reply
  24. First Lt Diablo says:

    Maybe the apparatchiks just wanted revenge themselves; for themselves. Maybe they didn’t do it for Il Duce at all.

    I’m not sure it requires credulity to imagine people doing things for themselves first and their bosses second (if at all).

    As usual I don’t disagree with your point so much as your blasé aplomb. You just think you know so much more than you can know. If you would just say you’re 88% sure then I wouldn’t need to rebut you. But, dude, you’re just 12% too cocky.

    Reply
    • David Simon says:

      I’m 93 percent certain. Will that do? The essay is an opinion, and it follows the Jim Rome rule of sports call-in commentary: Have a take and try not to suck. What else should an opinion be other than that?

      And by the way, the extra five percent comes from the fact that Mr. Christie made a point of not attempting to question his deputy chief of state before he fired her. Why ask her who told you to do that to Fort Lee if you really don’t want a direct answer. That is’t the behavior of a man who wants to get to the bottom of a mystery. It’s a man who already knows exactly where the bottom is.

      Reply
      • First Lt Diablo says:

        We have an accord!

        Reply
      • Aggie Christ says:

        It’s Jim, not Chris, Rome and that’s not an opinion.

        Reply
        • David Simon says:

          It is indeed. Thanks for the catch. Have corrected.

          Reply
          • Laser the Liquidator says:

            WOW – I’m taking a ‘Screen Hunter’ pic of this one;
            David Simon caught in a typo

            Cool!

            Reply
            • Aggie Christ says:

              That wasn’t a typographical error — it was misinformation. Anyone who writes a blog is bound to do it sooner or later…

              Reply
              • James Elson says:

                Hey we’ve all made that kind of mistake at some point in our lives. No one’s perfect and no one on this blog knows it better than the writer himself.

                Reply
                • David Simon says:

                  Seriously, what are you cats arguing about? I’m glad it was pointed out to me that I had Rome’s name wrong. Happy to correct.

                  That said, there is no proofread on this work as it is me vs. laptop. It isn’t scriptwork or published prose work. As I’m paid professionally for that stuff, it gets a copyread. As this is pretty random musing on a personal site, not so much. And oh yeah, if two spaces after a sentence drives you crazy, get over it. Screenplay and teleplay formatting argues for two spaces after every action line and dialogue line, so as to make each sentence more distinct for cast and crew on the reads and prep. Better I should irritate you here than make myself dysfunctional where I need to be professional.

                  Can we veer back toward content now and think the best of each other? Great. Thanks.

                  Reply
  25. Thomas says:

    The one thing that I hate about scandals like this is that they are so obviously horrible that they seem to give the impression that other, more easily-explained and common means of screwing over the people become normalized and seem not so bad in comparison…but obviously The Wire had plenty to say about that. Christie deserves some very public shaming and to have his political career ended, but his assault on his state’s less fortunate should be remembered as well.

    As a side-note, apparently the family of the woman who died have said they do not blame the governor and want no part of this scandal, which must be a relief for Christie. I guess that downgrades this from being one of the biggest political disasters in recent memory to just a very bad one.

    Reply
    • David Simon says:

      That is the family’s choice, to be sure. And Mr. Christie can and should be thankful for it.

      Reply
    • LaserDLiquidator says:

      Boy – Don’t read my website link – if you think this one is “horrible”.

      C. C. giving former USAG $50 million NO Bid DPA (“Deferred Prosecution Agreement”) was a horrific (very bad Precedent setting) event.

      When Capone gives $50 mil to the former USAG; because Chris Christie is choosing Not to Prosecute the affair

      is Open Bribery of America’s TOP POLICE WatchDOG

      Reply
  26. Warren says:

    As a citizen of Toronto, I am scandalized by this horrible man and his abuse of power. Rob Ford for a better city!

    Reply
  27. Warren says:

    Well, if enough evidence comes to light that it wrecks his chances in 2016,(although it seems like it should wreck it, regardless.) He can can always move here and run for mayor. Big swaths of Toronto would love a guy like him after Ford serves out his second term! Actually, I don’t think even Ford would pull something this petty. He’s a buffoon but I don’t think he’d intentionally allow or cause harm to the citizenry just to get back at an enemy. So there you have it. Christie: Worse than Rob Ford?

    Reply
    • David Simon says:

      In Baltimore, William Donald Schaefer — if faced with a rebellious or insolent councilman — would have made sure to tell the city agencies to ignore the councilman’s calls for service. His constituent needs would go to the bottom of the pile, to be sure. And potholes in that district would be slow to fill, if at all, until the recalcitrant councilman groveled and kissed the ring.

      But to go beyond that and have the city trucks actually drive over to the guy’s district and start digging holes? No way. For that, I guess, you gotta be from Jersey.

      Reply
      • Laser the Liquidator says:

        HEY – be careful there Mr. Simon;

        Ya can’s attack the quack in de Gov’s chair for reaching into the wrong territory; but as far as makin dis a Jwersey ding

        fah git bout it!

        Kabeesh!

        Reply
      • Warren says:

        Agreed. There’s a big difference between being a political bully and being (what seems to me at least,) criminally responsible, or at least criminally negligent towards an enemy’s constituents while holding power. What’ll he do as President if some leader from another country slights him?

        Reply
        • Laser (the Liquidator) Haas says:

          What happened to Christie is Gotti-esque needs for attention, combined with the knowledge he got away with the $50 million bribe to USAG former and lack of experience as a politico having the cherry on top of an ego bigger than body (Yes – it is possible).

          No seasoned politico would dare risk it all, to thump an opponent

          when it wasn’t necessary to do so much to gain so little.

          Reply
  28. Jeff says:

    It’s very interesting that the suggestions here that Christie is “selfishly insecure”, “small” etc, seem to be in line with how the Governor was portrayed in the recent book about the 2012 election by John Heilemann and Mark Halperin. Christie, of course, famously blew his speech at the 2012 Republican National Convention. He barely mentioned Romney, didn’t say much of anything about the President, and spent a lot of the time patting himself on the back for what he feels he’s accomplished in New Jersey. I’m actually surprised that the anecdotes in the book haven’t received more attention. Perhaps the authors and their sources aren’t well respected or I just don’t tune in to MSBNC or FOX News enough to know whether people have talked about this, but Governor Christie was not helped in any way by his behavior during that election cycle, at least as it pertained to the Romney Campaign.

    The Romney people chased Christie’s endorsement forever, and were thrilled when they received it. And yet they apparently were the catalysts for a couple of stories in the press just before Christie spoke at the convention…and most of the problems really stemmed from Christie’s ego.

    Many of the billionaire fundraisers and Super PAC sponsors on the Republican side wanted Christie to run in 2012, and will most certainly help him in 2016…but Christie, I believe, is seen as a RINO by a lot of Republicans, and he’s certainly not going to excite the tea-party wingnuts. On the other hand, after watching President Obama win despite all the Republican nonsense – whether it was restricting early voting in several states, gerrymandering the Congressional districts (which actually was successful as the Republicans control the House despite Democrats winning the popular vote), passing voter id laws, etc….it would seem the Republican party will focus on electability more than anything else in 2016. We’ll have to see if this hurts Christie in that area.

    Reply
  29. Katie says:

    “On a last chance power drive,” indeed!

    Reply
  30. Old Guy says:

    I’ve worked under elected and appointed politicians for over 20 years. I see there being two options.
    #1. He knew.
    #2. Plausible deniability.

    #1 is Mr. Simon’s scenario and is highly likely since successful politicos are control freaks. One thing one learns very early is to not do anything without clearing it with the head people, and that usually means the big guy…..unless the big guy institutes #2 as the modus operandi.

    #2 is explicit instructions from the big guy to do whatever it takes to further the cause regardless of how nasty, immoral or illegal. But all deeds must have plausible deniability: don’t tell the big guy about them, don’t leave any tracks to the big guy and don’t get caught because the big guy won’t save you. I’ve seen more than one big guy institute this work environment. The big guy creates the environment, but stays above the fray.

    Ultimately, is one worse than the other?

    Reply
    • mak says:

      I’ll take door no. 2. CC said himself during the presser that he only communicates directly with his chief of staff (and soon to be state AG) O’Dowd and, I believe, chief counsel Charlie McKenna. There’s your deniability right there, underlined by the fact, as David observed, that CC pointedly did NOT ask Ms. Kelly what the hell she was thinking. Note too, that one of the previously resigned guys, Baroni, I think, had taken an identical stance when asked about Wildstein’s order to shut down the access lanes, to wit: Yes, Wildstein did it. And no, I didn’t ask him why.
      So I think the question is not whether CC knew (he did). Rather, the question is whether there is written evidence that he knew. And assuming there is no such written evidence, the immunity sweepstakes will be won by the participant with the flipside of the plausible deniability story: the plausible attribution.

      Reply
    • CW says:

      Also concur. However, if Christie actually did have the governor’s counsel question key employees about the matter and the malefactors lied to that lawyer, that may mean that he actually did not know.

      Then again, if anyone thinks that Christie is not a bully then they do not follow NJ politics too closely.

      Reply
  31. Nathan says:

    First thing I thought of was Mayor Royce ordering road work to disrupt Carcetti’s campaign HQ. Christie knew. Human behaviour being what it is and the fact that this got out(beyond rumour and innuendos) tells me people must have been talking. He’s going to be the republican nominee, people like him and is very “blue collar”(aka everything Mitt Romney wasnt). This means that he’s got hired aides with their fingers on the pulse of anything remotely controversial, anything that could be used against him, and if he didnt initially know he definatley wasnt “blindesided”. That has to be an outright lie and if he is lying about that then his whole story is suspect. Its the little things that tell us what kind of person a politician is. What they use for political gain, how they react to controversy is usually no different than an actor getting into character. As unreliable as it may sound, what the word on the street is about any given person, positive or negative, can be very telling one way or the other. Christie has a reputation for being a “bully” and this certainly fits nicely with that characterization. He knows how popular he is(even outside of New Jersey), popular politicians will convince themselves that no matter what the people will be on their side. Look at Rob Ford, his polls numbers didnt drop an inch at first. But like Anthony Weiner, slowly but surely, as more info comes out, that popularity will be your undoing. People start feeling betrayed and the more they like you the more personal it becomes. I have a feeling this but a taste of things to come out of Mr. Christie’s office. Should be interesting. As a side note whenever I see the latest political stooge and their antics I can’t help but think of “The Wire” and how exact you were in your characterization of the institution. People forget these institutions are run by human beings and human beings with power. It’s like the way people view Hollywood; “all actors are best friends and Katy Perry doesn’t take stinky shits”They forget about ego, jealously and envy.

    Reply
  32. gimmyCliff says:

    Maybe we should take a look at some of these other traffic snarls to see if there were others caused by political retribution. Sometimes while sitting in traffic I see those red cones and think why are they there other than to snarl traffic. This may have been going on for years.
    Anyway, I think you have a point. Why do it if not to brag?

    Reply
    • David Simon says:

      Not to brag. To get credit.

      There was a four-day window in which these people thought they were achieving the governor’s goals or serving his goals. That doesn’t mean Mr. Christie knew in advance of their moronic plan to snarl a town’s traffic pattern purposefully. It doesn’t mean that Mr. Christie didn’t regret their actions at some point — particularly after the New York side of the Port Authority rose up in opposition to this idiocy. He well have had more sense than the staffers who set this in motion.

      But little can convince me that the people who did this didn’t let the boss know of their prowess within that long, four-day window. Too much of an expected attaboy to pass up. I do not believe that Mr. Christie first learned of the political motivation for the traffic snarl yesterday morning. No way.

      Reply
      • Jeff, Syracuse says:

        Yeah, Governor Christie might be the front-runner for his party’s nomination for President in the next election cycle. Somebody on his staff is going to pull this off and then NOT tell him about the accomplishment? Please. They’re picking out the drapes for their West Wing office the second they tell the Governor what happened…

        Reply
      • Slash says:

        Oh hell yeah. Agreed. He knew way before then, but just hoped it’d go away/blow over.

        Reply
  33. Linda says:

    More smoke and mirrors. More bread and circuses. Chris Christie, former climate change denier and future presidential candidate, got caught.

    Meanwhile, Portugal and Wales just got their coastlines re-arranged. Australia is burning. North America is enjoying the polar vortex. And this is just the beginning.

    But let’s not pay attention to that. This….this is so much more satisfying! Doesn’t mean much, but it’s a lot more fun!

    Reply
  34. DellaDash says:

    If he didn’t know, then he’s lost his grip. But, of course, he knew.

    Reply
  35. Emmett says:

    Shouldn’t we have actual evidence or something like it that shows that he knew before we start saying he knew?

    I’m no fan of Christie’s, but it makes me uncomfortable that everyone’s making these leaps without evidence.

    Reply
    • Emmett says:

      Also, it seems odd to me that the basis for the retribution was merely an endorsement. I mean, it’s not like the guy was from his own party, so why would Christie expect an endorsement? And why would he care, since it was such a landslide victory?

      Reply
      • David Simon says:

        You’re not really thinking it through. Mr. Christie didn’t care about the Jersey governor’s race. That outcome was in the bag.

        No, he was collecting endorsements from Democratic state officials specifically in preparation for his presidential run. There, the idea that he can appeal to both sides of the aisle is essential for victory as he needs to draw Independent and Democratic support to win. His staff was pressuring Democratic officeholders for endorsements that will be assets in a national race. Similarly, in Jersey City, the governor’s office cut the Democratic mayor there dead, ignoring all Jersey City business, once he failed to endorse Mr. Christie. The governor was tallying Democratic endorsements aggressively in this race. Not to remain governor, but to become president.

        Reply
        • Emmett says:

          Thanks for the response. You raise some points I hadn’t thought of.

          I’ve heard from friends that Christie is known to appoint some particularly nasty, awful folks to jobs at certain agencies. I think the guilt-by-association narrative can be taken too far, but if it’s endemic in his administration, that is a story worthy of more coverage.

          Reply
          • David Simon says:

            Interesting article in the NYT this a.m. on the governor’s machinations regarding a gas pipeline through a wildlife refuge, as well.

            Reply
            • Laser (the Liquidator) Haas says:

              That whole area is being f’rack (f’rk’d) up;
              and it is going to flow all the way to the inner harbor.

              Just like the specious chem thingy in VA

              Reply
            • mak says:

              And if you haven’t already you may wish to check out Rachel Maddow’s alternate theory here: http://www.msnbc.com/rachel-maddow-show
              In a nutshell, it was an effort to punish the leader of the Democratic state Senate, Loretta Weinberg, who represents the area that includes the bridge.

              Reply
              • mak says:

                Worth noting in advance, too, that while Mayor Sokolich’s name may indeed have appeared in the email strings surrounding the bridge shutdown, I’m pretty sure that was only after the fact – when he was dealing with the traffic jams that resulted, and trying in vain to get a call back from the Port Authority to find out wtf was happening.

                Reply
              • David Simon says:

                Interesting, but does it jibe with the comments about harming Buono voters by Mr. Christie’s aides in those emails? That would seem to squarely put the retribution on the gubernatorial race, rather than on a legislative nominations process.

                Reply
      • Paul (A.) says:

        The Fort Lee Mayor’s non-endorsement does not appear to be the motivation. Mayor Sokolich denies even being asked.

        Rachel Maddow, however, points out that the traffic jam was ordered the very morning after Christie (late the day before) refused to renominate Justice Helen Hoens in his anger over the legislature’s failure to act on his other Supreme Court nominations. The target, then, would appear to be Democratic State Senator Loretta Weinberg (whose district encompassed not only Fort Lee but many of the other towns impacted by the GW Bridge gridlock) rather than mayor Sokolich.

        Maddow’s analysis here makes as much sense as David Simon’s. I’d give it a 93% also.

        Reply
        • David Simon says:

          Interesting theory. Doesn’t jibe with the email commentary among Mr. Christie’s aides about the trapped motorists being Buono voters, though. That goes to the gubernatorial election and by extension, endorsements, rather than a nominations process in the state legislator.

          Reply
    • David Simon says:

      I’m saying what I believe. I readily concede there is no evidence one way or another, and I am careful not to claim that Mr. Christie initiated the political retaliation. For that, I agree, there needs to be more definitive evidence.

      But I am entirely comfortable expressing my belief, based on institutional dynamics, that over a four-day period, Mr. Christie’s aides — having successfully achieved their intended results against a political adversary — would have informed him of this outcome. Their careers are predicated on serving him and his interests and having done so to such dramatic effect, they would have tripped over themselves to take credit. Everything I have ever experienced in office politics and institutional behavior argues that he knew.

      As to whether Mr. Christie sanctioned this civic vandalism in advance, I am unsure without additional evidence either way. And if the traffic snarls at the bridge had been curtailed after a few hours, it is conceivable that Mr. Christie, upon being told of these activities by subordinates, might have overruled them — though even then, he should have fired them and publicly repudiated their efforts, rather than maintaining the denial to the press. But no, the traffic jam went on for four days. In all of that time, the idea that the aides who had achieved this outcome and were continuing to maintain this outcome in Fort Lee did not take credit for it with the boss is simply ridiculous on its face. Ergo, it is my opinion that he knew before yesterday and he is lying. I am saying so. Sorry if I am less credulous than you require.

      Reply
      • LaserDLiquidator says:

        There’s much empirical evidence that Chris Christie is a very furtive twerp.

        Andrew Kreig is an attorney “at law” who lives in Washington, D.C. for 2 decades plus (a stone’s throw from the DOJ). He worked at the Hartford Currant (the nation’s oldest newspaper), also did a stint at Latham Watkins and worked Hillary’s campaign. Currently he runs the Justice Integrity Project (apropos nym of “JIP” – as in what our rogue elements within do to U.S.).

        He was the sole Lancelot going after Christ Christie as US Attorney (during the era when GWB fired the “8” who wouldn’t play Karl Rove ball on “politico” prosecutions – C.C. was THE man who was THE most active at doing Karl Rove’s bidding of assaulting Democrats nefariously)

        Andrew Kreig stated long ago – that
        http://andrewkreig.wordpress.com/tag/christie/

        “What all cases involving wrongful prosecutions share in common,” said Manzo, a target in the Bid Rig III case in New Jersey that helped propel Republican U.S. Attorney Chris Christie to New Jersey’s governorship last fall, “is the necessity of a fair judicial system.” In Bid Rig III, DOJ gave a felon large sums to donate to New Jersey campaigns such as Manzo’s, with Democrats overwhelmingly indicted. Manzo won a major victory this spring when his trial judge dismissed the most serious charges.

        Then Christie gave former US Att Debra Yang and USAG Ashcroft a $50 million NO bid DPA (a bribe – reward – for helping to make sure Dem’s went down and Repub’s {like Romney} were “hands off”).

        And it looks as if (presently) – that it will either be Christie or Jeb for “them”.

        Reply
  36. TCinLA says:

    As my great grand-uncle who worked for Harry Truman all his life once observed, “the only ‘good Republicans’ are pushing up daisies.” Nothing’s changed since he said that 60 years ago other than the kind of cars they drive and the cut of their suits.

    Christie is such an obvious asshole (I’ve had a lot of experience around political assholes) it always amazed me he could sell himself as some sort of “moderate” – like GWB selling himself as “compassionate.” Neither of them know what those words meant if they tripped over them.

    Reply
    • tom says:

      Given the sea change in political ideologies over the past 6 or 7 decades, the idea that one party has always been one way or another is asinine. My grandparents were Irish Catholic, Kennedy Democrats (and FDR before him). Were they alive today, I am certain, like my parents, they could never bring themselves to vote Democrat, given the party’s creation of, pandering, and continued suppression of the underclass.

      Reply
      • David Simon says:

        Not sure I can credit the Democrats with all of that. Not without some stronger psychotropic drugs. Laying poverty to the political party of organized labor, modern civil rights and most of the legislation that created a middle-class with discretionary income from a subsistence-wage working class in the middle part of the last century seems silly to me.

        On the other hand, the greed-is-good and I-got-mine parties of libertarianism and supply-side Republicanism seem notably ripe for blame at the loss of the American family’s buying power since 1980.

        But seeing as you offer your grandiose declarations independent of any backing argument, fact or factoid, I suppose it’s useless to spend time saying anything other than, gee, everything evident in the world you see backwards. And of course my proclaiming the above has as much or as little force behind it as your effusion. Neither declaration advances anyone’s understanding of an issue in the slightest.

        Instead, and adding some small ambition to the matter, do you have a single analysis that you wish to offer here? Or just name calling of the political faction to which you are opposed? Again, this is not the comment gutters of Fox or Yahoo. Raise your game and contribute something substantive. All of us interested in more than partisan ranting will be grateful for such an effort.

        Reply
  37. Kevin Stevens says:

    I’m always amazed at the propensity of people to mistake being a blunt-spoken asshole for being a truth-teller. The corollary to that is most of these assholes excuse their behavior by saying they’re “just telling it like it is.”

    Reply
    • LaserDLiquidator says:

      I don’t believe we here, at this particular realm of banter, give any credence to the notion that the “blunt-spoken C.C.” is a truth-teller. However, even the worst of this planet (including Mr. Flip Flopper) do tell it like it is – on occasion.

      Because “telling it like it is” – is so, SO, rare from our politico’s – its endearing.

      As pointed out below – Chris Christie “stole” his way to being head of New Jersey;
      and (if given the chance) – he’ll steal his way to POTUS (like Pitten’s tried to do).

      Reply
  38. Heidi Ho says:

    Mr. Simon;

    Would you being so kind (being that we don’t see eye to eye) – to consider a Q&A on a troubling matter (which received over 1 million web views and more than 100,000 FB likes/tweets last week).

    You can make a difference;
    and piss off Chris Christie and his ilk in the process.

    I’m just sayin……

    Reply
  39. LaserDLiquidator says:

    Ahhhh, Dear Mr. Simon; how I have such a love/hate relationship with thee – let me count the ways.

    1 – You’re one great writer
    2 – An arrogant —-
    3 – Your ability to call dark days – dark – is exception
    4 – An arrogant —-
    5 – Fondness of the Baltimore Beltway puts an everlasting sunshine on the Inner Harbor
    6 – Sometimes you ain’t so nice

    Be all that (and much more as it may); along with the fact that (at 1st glance) my heart flutter in anticipation – when I thought this would be an article about the Vet’s who are homeless & freezing. The fact of the matter remains;

    you hit this one nail on the (super one swing finish) proverbial head!

    Damn good job sir – KUDOs.

    Chris Christie was a scheming US Attorney who utilized a fraudster, laden with cash in his mattresses; to go after (preponderantly) – Democratic politicos.

    Everyone during the GWB era was stealing – SO MUCH – that US Attorney Chris Christie decided he would push the limits of federal venality to new (previously thought unfathomable) heights.

    He gave his ex boss (USAG John Ashcroft) a $50 million dollar NO BID DPA (“Deferred Prosecution Agreement”); and CC was rewarded with the Gov’s chair for being so creative in public servant grand larceny and such.

    Like you, Mr. Simon, there are times that I’m impressed with CC’s ability to do public service; because (as is common of many snakes in the grass) Mr. Christie “can” be charming. (Akin to the Mayor’s motivational memo about “there’s a pothole that I demanded to be fixed 2 weeks – that ain’t been fuckin fixed yet” – setting a whole new record in non-super funded street restoration).

    Be that as it may, there’s terms for worms and what they do.

    Like the real namesake of a federal prosecutor forgoing a prosecution by a bad guy

    for a $50 million dollar “personal” consideration!

    Reply
  40. Les says:

    It was strange to see the public shift in their attitude because when he was first elected it seemed many had a firm grasp that Gov. Christie was a bully with some petty tyrant tendencies. Then along the way people turned him into a folk hero and the “good Republican” and this just serves as a reminder of the type of man he is behind the scenes.

    He might have been effective but as you say, it’s unlikely these actions were being done without his knowledge and most likely at his direct behest.

    Reply

Trackbacks & Pingbacks

  1. […] Great Northeastern Hope, Chris Christie, took it on one of his chins. David Simon is correct. Governor Christie knew. In the great, corrupt game of Jersey Pay Back what sense would it make for […]

  2. […] seen as the sidecar to his ability to get things done. Christie’s tough-guy persona conveyed, as David Simon writes, a "plain-speaking insistence on results." Christie could be the perfect answer for a […]

  3. […] sidecar to his ability to get things done. Christie’s tough-guy persona conveyed, as David Simon writes, a “plain-speaking insistence on results.” Christie could be the perfect […]

  4. […] sidecar to his ability to get things done. Christie’s tough-guy persona conveyed, as David Simon writes, a “plain-speaking insistence on results.” Christie could be the perfect […]

  5. […] For that kind of behavior you need someone really, really small. For the anger and argument to become that self-absorbed and […]

  6. […] 6. It’s still early, but David Simon has taken the lead for Most Perfect Headline of the year: “The highway’s jammed with broken heroes …” […]

  7. […] we have Chris Christie’s highway bridge scandal. Today’s press conference was not convincing. As David Simon writes of Christie and the closure of lanes on the turnpike, “he knew.” He knew, Simon […]

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