Since 51-year-old New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie was exposed by the New York Times in the Bridgegate scandal Jan. 8, he’s disappeared from the national scene. Gone are the days when the GOP’s next best hope was followed relentlessly by the national media hoping to get a few choice words. While a select legislative committee headed by Rep. John Wisniewski and New Jersey’s U.S. Atty. Paul Fishman conduct their investigations behind closed doors, Christie continues his PR blitz staging town-hall meetings. Whatever the GOP and Christie had hoped for the Oval Office in 2016, his brand has sunk to new lows in the wake of Bridgegate. Accused of ordering access lane closings causing gridlock on the GW Bridge [Sept. 9-13, 2013] to retaliate against Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich, Christie finds his national fortunes dwindling. Pretending it’s business-as-usual is not the way to cope.
Getting more bad news in recent polls, a recent New York Times/CBS poll showed that only 31% of registered Republicans want him to run for president. Judging by ongoing investigations, Christie looks to hang onto his New Jersey job. ‘It’s never easy being governor of New Jersey but it’s great . . .It’s great to be governor for eight years,” hinting that his plans have changed, lowering the bar to hanging onto his job. “I’m in my second term . . .I don’t worry about politics anymore, this is it,” admitting the obvious that he wouldn’t run again for New Jersey politics. Christie’s sudden change of heart stems directly from swirling accusations by Democrats that he played a key role in the GW Bridge lane closings. While he denied know anything about the scandal, all the parties involved in the scandal, including his former Chief-of-Staff Bridget Kelly, have taken the 5th or disappeared.
Christie’s PR problems continue to dog his political future, directly relate to the blanket silence by all Chrsitie’s men-and-women connected with Bridgegate. Firing Kelly, Port Authority appointee David Wildstein and his former campaign manager Bill Stepien, someone Christie slated to run the New Jersey Republican Party, have all fallen off the map. Press reports indicate that none of Christie’s underlings have even responded to the select committee or U.S. attorney’s request for documents. Holding town-hall meetings helps hide Christie from the impending doom of any number of Bridggate investigations. When Christie spoke to the national media Jan. 9, he asked the public to believe that rogue elements on his staff stabbed him in the back, especially Kelly. Those that know Kelly and how she coveted her job, said she would have never done anything without Christie’s approval.
Holding more town-hall meetings won’t stop the ongoing investigations that threaten Christie with more legal problems. Sticking to hurricane Sandy relief or family court issues won’t stop the press or public from wondering about Bridgegate. Christie’s Jan. 9 press conference or recent appearance on radio talk shows won’t stop the select committee or U.S. Attorney from getting to the bottom of Bridegate. Bringing up his mother’s death in town-hall meetings also won’t stop the public from questioning what happened with Bridgegate. Without the press—or courts—getting to interview all the Bridgegate players, the public can only go on Christie’s word that he knew nothing. Christie insists to crowds his mother told him to “go to work.” “That’s what I’ll continue to do every day you give me the privilege” to serve as governor,” pretending Bridgegate doesn’t exist.
More vexing emails from Kelly and Wildstein continue to dog Christie, despite no reference to him giving orders. “We cannot cause traffic problems in front of his house, can we?” Kelly asked Wildstein, referring to Port Authority Champlain Rabbi Mendy Carlebach. “And he has officially pissed me off,” Wildstein wrote Kelly, it’s uncertain why the Port Authority chaplain was mentioned at all. “Flights over Tel Aviv all mysteriously delayed,” Wildstein wrote to Kelly, apparently referring sarcastically to the rabbi. Whatever the email exchanges between Kelly and Wildstein, it disputes Christie’s musings at his Jan. 9 press conference that he thought the lane closing were a routine “traffic study,” not a vendetta against Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich for backing Christie’s democratic candidate Barbara Buono. Burying himself in town-hall meetings doesn’t end the controversy.
Christie’s political future has all been ruined over the massive cover-up over what really happened when access lanes closed Sept. 9-13, 2013 over the GW Bridge. Talking about how he loves his job or how hard he intends to work for New Jersey taxpayers doesn’t stop the press from asking the same questions. If all of Christie’s men-and-women connected to Bridgegate refuse to talk or answer requests-for-documents, it’s going to be difficult to clear Christie of wrongdoing. Despite his denials, Christie’s lost so much credibility that he’s radioactive when it comes to running for national office. Christie’s silent staff knows the governor’s involvement in Bridgegate scandal. If there’s rampant speculation at this point it’s due to the fact that everyone connected to the scandal has remained silent. All recent emails point to much more than a routine “traffic study” as Christie suggested.
About the Author
John M. Curtis writes politically neutral commentary analyzing spin in national and global news. He’s editor of OnlineColumnist.com and author of Dodging The Bullet and Operation Charisma.