Recent political scandals have given us a whole new set of colorful euphemisms for dodgy behavior. Wide stance. Walking the Appalachian trail. Drunken stupor. And now, We’re doing a traffic study.
And speaking of Bridgegate, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie held an epic press conference today about it. Actually, “held” is the wrong tense. As I write this, it’s still going on. He’s apologized repeatedly, denied that he’s a bully, claimed that he’s embarrassed and humiliated, and fired a couple of his close aides. He’s doing pretty well, and if he’s telling the truth that he knew nothing about any of this before it happened, then he might be able to put it all behind him eventually. Still, I was struck by this:
Q: I’m wondering what your staff said to you about why they lied to you. Why would they do that? What was their explanation? And what about Mr. Samson? What role did he play in this?
GOV. CHRISTIE: I have — I have not had any conversation with Bridget Kelly since the email came out. And so she was not given the opportunity to explain to me why she lied because it was so obvious that she had. And I’m, quite frankly, not interested in the explanation at the moment.
Bridget Anne Kelly was one of Christie’s top aides, and very clearly someone who was rather gleefully involved in planning the pre-election lane closures on the George Washington Bridge as retribution against the mayor of Ft. Lee. But Christie wasn’t interested in talking to her directly to find out what was going on? Really? That sounds like a guy who either (a) already knows what she’d tell him, or (b) is afraid of what she might tell him.
A friend of mine also emails with this:
Here’s something I haven’t heard yet, and it seems kinda obvious to me:
Bridget Anne Kelly: “Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee.”
David Wildstein: “Got it.”
Does this exchange sound like it’s between two people who are suggesting a new and novel way to screw their political opponents, or between two people who have clearly done this before?
If I’m working in the governor’s office1 and someone sends me an email saying “Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee!” I’d probably email back something like, “What are you talking about?” or “What happened in Fort Lee that’s causing all the traffic?” Instead, Wildstein knows what she’s getting at right away, and what he’s supposed to do. Then he does it.
It would surprise me less if this turns out to be the only time they’ve done this than if we discover two or three more incidents of politically inspired “traffic problems.”
Maybe that’s what Christie is afraid to find out?
1Actually, Wildstein worked at the Port Authority. But you get the idea anyway. “Wildstein was known as the Governor’s eyes and ears inside this massive agency,” says one reporter, and he’s a longtime friend and confidante of Christie’s.