Why "Time for Some Traffic Problems in Fort Lee" Matters

One argument put forth by conservatives–and even some liberals–regarding the IRS scandal was this:

Obama set a tone that encouraged IRS workers to harass conservative and Tea Party groups. He didn’t have to give a direct order. His tone and statements clearly condoned such criminal behavior toward his political enemies.

Kimberly Strassel at WSJ.com:

Mr. Obama didn’t need to pick up the phone. All he needed to do was exactly what he did do, in full view, for three years: Publicly suggest that conservative political groups were engaged in nefarious deeds; publicly call out by name political opponents whom he’d like to see harassed; and publicly have his party pressure the IRS to take action.

Peggy Noonan, likewise, wrote:

A president sets a mood, a tone. He establishes an atmosphere. If he is arrogant, arrogance spreads. If he is too partisan, too disrespecting of political adversaries, that spreads too. Presidents always undo themselves and then blame it on the third guy in the last row in the sleepy agency across town.

I still believe that’s a strong, effective, and truthful indictment of President Obama.

If it’s true of Obama, then it’s equally true of Democrats' favorite Republican, Chris Christie, the Godfather Governor of New Jersey.

We’ve been reading about Christie’s heavy-handed punishment of Republicans and Democrats who defy his dictates. Sure, we all cheer when a governor stands up to abusive teachers' unions. But standing up to bullies–and teachers unions are bullies–is not bullying. Other Christie action were bullying.

The New York Times ran a story on Christmas Eve that recounted several instances of Christie’s bullying.

  • a former governor who was stripped of police security at public events;

  • a Rutgers professor who lost state financing for cherished programs;

  • a state senator whose candidate for a judgeship suddenly stalled;

  • another senator who was disinvited from an event with the governor in his own district.

Even the conservative site NewsMax wrote about the growing problem of Christie’s dark side.

Meanwhile, the Republican establishment has all but ordained Christie its party’s 2016 nominee. That GOP establishment is doing for Christie what it did for Romney–secure all the money and all the endorsements before anyone else forms an exploratory committee. The establishment that wants amnesty in Washington and Medicaid expansion in Missouri also wants Christie to run unopposed. It’s their usual, losing “play to the middle” strategy. Kinder, gentler losers.

That “play to the middle” strategy could bite the party hard this time.

Today, we learned that a top aide to Christie authorized the shutdown of George Washington Bridge accesses to the town of Fort Lee. The shutdown was an act of political retribution. Fort Lee’s mayor, a Democrat, refused to endorse Christie for re-election.

Texting Kills #

Transcripts of emails and text messages are damning. Emails between Christie’s deputy chief of staff, Bridget Anne Kelly, and Port Authority authority, David Wildstein, leave little doubt that the GWB shudown was payback:

Kelly to Wildstein: “Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee.”

Wildstein’s response: “Got it.”

The shutdown caused major traffic nightmares in Fort Lee. A 91-year-old died when an ambulance couldn’t respond to her distress call. Three other emergency calls were delayed by traffic.

If the exchange between Kelly and Wildstein left room for doubt as to the motivation for the shutdown, a text message exchange between Wildstein and undisclosed correspondent removes all doubt. From BigGovernment. com:

The undisclosed person also wrote, “I feel badly about the kids, I guess.” Wildstein wrote, “They are the children of Buono voters,” referring to Christie opponent and Democratic gubernatorial candidate Barbara Buono.

Christie’s Excuses Mirror Obama’s #

Governor Christie has avoided the press since today’s disclosure. After cancelling a scheduled appearance to celebrate recovery from Hurricane Sandy, Christie released a statement claiming his staffers “misled” him about the reason for the bridge closure. He went on to say that he learned of the true motivation for the closure only today.

But, as former Christie fan Josh Barro points out on BusinessInsider.com, Christie’s claim holds no water. Barro writes:

There have been 117 intervening days, during which Christie accepted the resignations of two of his Port Authority appointees who are caught up in this scandal. I assume he and his top staff have had a lot of conversations during that time, trying to figure out exactly what happened in Fort Lee.

Did his people really manage to keep him in the dark for that entire time such that he’s shocked today? If so, what does that say about his skills as a personnel manager?

If Barack Obama set a tone that implicitly condoned IRS harassment of Tea Party groups, then Christie, at least, set a tone that encouraged his underlings to shut down a bridge for political retribution.

Kimberly Strassel’s description of Obama’s reaction to the IRS scandal sounds exactly like Christie’s “outrage.”

Mr. Obama now professes shock and outrage that bureaucrats at the IRS did exactly what the president of the United States said was the right and honorable thing to do.

I think Obama should be vilified over the IRS scandal, the NSA scandal, Obamacare, and numerous other infringements on human rights. Only an establishment party hack could hold Chris Christie to a lower standard.