13 January 2014
Dogpiling on Gov. Christie
Another week, another scandal for the popular governor of New Jersey. While the tempest over "Bridgegate" touched Chris Christie only tangentially, to the extent that the Republican was responsible for the petty nastiness of his underlings, the new scandal surrounding the use of hurricane-relief funds to film a "political" commercial points more directly at the governor himself. The complaint here is that the commercial, touting the state's recovery from the 2012 superstorm, could be taken as a form of electioneering given Christie's prominent role in the ad, even though governors nearly always appear in these type of ads to promote tourism or business investment. What seems clear when we take in the picture as a whole is that people are out to get Christie. The real question may be: who isn't? Democrats presumably fear him because Christie's relative moderation could win him the presidency in 2016, should he overcome Tea Party opposition in the Republican primaries. That possibility probably has Tea Partiers gunning for him as well. What we should expect to see, and are seeing already, is Republicans crying crocodile tears over Christie's troubles. If either or both of these scandals bring him down, many in the GOP may secretly celebrate, but that won't stop them from accusing Democrats (and their alleged auxiliaries in the "mainstream media") of hypocritical partisan persecution. Some of the usual voices are already asking why "Bridgegate" should receive more attention (if that's even the case) than the purported persecution of Tea Party groups (i.e. the auditing of their claims to tax-exempt status) by the IRS. By spinning investigations of the Christie administration as partisan persecution, the Republican right wing may try to hit two birds with one stone. Meanwhile, if Democrats really are pushing efforts to investigate or eliminate Christie, wouldn't that be typical? Some in that party may think that their presidential candidate for 2016 would have an easier time against a Tea Party nominee than against a perceived relative moderate like Christie. If such a belief motivates anything happening now, it may show that Democrats are more concerned about taking down short-term threats to their power than taking down long-term threats to the country's well being. Of course, there may be no similar "smoking guns" that could be used against the leading TPs, but the real problem with the Tea Party isn't the corruption or venality of any individual members or leaders. Their ideology is the problem, but I sense that Democrats wouldn't mind keeping them around as ideological foils, figures to frighten the voters and donors with. But at the same time the Tea Party may point to Christie's fate, should the worst happen, as proof that any Republican, not to mention any politician, who rejects their ideology, or challenges it to any extent, is most likely corrupt. Chris Christie himself may not be worth a damn, but I wonder whether anyone apart from his political rivals would benefit from his fall.