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Chris Christie and the big, hairy traffic snarl scandal
Because I must.
Why am I writing about a traffic tie-up in New Jersey? Oh, right, because it kinda sorta has implications for a maybe presidential campaign that's two years in the future, because in American punditry today we first, before all else, obsess over the next presidential campaign. And when it comes to anyone we think might run, we view everything that ever happens in the context of this still-well-in-the-future maybe presidential campaign.
So! What are the implications of Bridgegate on Chris Christie's potential future presidential ambitions?
Answer: It's a dumb question, which is not to say the story doesn't matter at all. It's just dumb to immediately jump into presidential implications, as if nothing matters in life but the dynamics of a campaign that hasn't even been announced and is two years away at any rate. I realize the political world is already obsessing over this because that's what the political world does, but that doesn't mean the rest of us have to.
As to the substance of the story itself, obviously if Christie was involved with ordering traffic tie-ups as political retribution against a Democratic mayor who didn't support his re-election, it shows him to be a petty man willing to abuse his power so as to punish his political opponents. In other words, this would make him just like Barack Obama.
But at this point there is no reason to believe he knew what his aides were up to. What we can say is that Christie made the decision to hire people who turned out to be petty jerks, and that is not a mark in his favor. One of the worst things about Obama (and granted, it's a long list), is that he's a completely incompetent executive manager, and presumably a governor who has led a sizeable state would offer something more formidable in that area. Someone who can't distinguish between a dedicated, competent aide and a political hack is not what we're looking for, although to be fair everyone who hires people sometimes gets surprised by the way things turn out. I certainly have a time or two.
The political media gets way too caught up in scandals - both the substance and the dopey angle of how the politician dealt with the so-called scandal once it emerged. If he "got out in front of it" this is supposedly a point in his favor, as if we're electing the CEO of a PR/crisis management firm.
If/when Christie decides to run for president, I'm much more interested in his vision for the nation than I am about some "scandal" about traffic, although I would want to hear if he has learned anything from this about executive leadership that he would apply as president. We all become better leaders by learning from mistakes, and while the media will hyperventilate of any "admission of a mistake," that's how we learn.
Until there is a campaign, though, this is a New Jersey story, and I'm really only writing this because it seems obligatory.
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