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George Mitrovich Headshot

She's Stupid, and She's a Liar

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That is what Chris Christie called Bridget Anne Kelly, his former deputy chief of staff; that is what he called Ms. Kelly in a nationally televised press conference, when the governor sought to prove he had no knowledge that over four days there had been lane closures on the New Jersey approach to the George Washington Bridge, the world's busiest -- as in more than 49 million cars, buses and trucks crossing annually from the Garden State to New York.

It strains credulity to the breaking point to accept the governor's assurance he knew nothing about Ft. Lee having become a parking lot, because if he didn't, why didn't he? You can't claim to be a hands-on governor while claiming ignorance of such a mess and expect to be believed.

But wanting to prove his ignorance, the governor called out Bridget Anne Kelly, all 4 feet 9 inches of her, a single mother of four, who spent three hours every workday driving to and from her home in Bergen County to the State Capitol in Trenton. Since it is safe to assume she wasn't working an eight-hour day in the governor's office, because people who work for elected officials don't work eight-hour days, the likelihood is Ms. Kelly was working 14- to 15-hour days; so complete was her devotion to her duties and her boss.

The New York Times carried a story about Ms. Kelly. A story in which her friends said she was "devastated" by her firing and Christie's accusations at his self-defense press conference.

If you wish to defend the governor for such a public lynching of Ms. Kelly, be my guest. But trust me when I say that will reveal more about you and your values than you will want others to know -- because there is no defense for Chris Christie's public execution of his former aide.

Yes, if Ms. Kelly did indeed, as appears, call for lane closures on the George Washington, she should have been gone from the governor's staff and held accountable, but by the option of resignation, not humiliation.

So you're 41 and a single mother of four and the governor of your state, and would-be presidential candidate, told America and the world, you're "stupid" and a "liar," what do you think your job prospects are? (A question David Letterman also raised to NBC's Brian Williams, but no one else in media appears to have asked the question, because Bridget Anne's not the story.)

I've been in and around politics, at the local, state and national levels, for 48 years, and I cannot recall such a public trashing of an aide by an elected official -- ever.

That it was Chris Christie who did the trashing should not surprise; his designation as a "bully" is accepted by even his friends.

But it's not only his ego, but his conduct at his self-defense press conference and afterwards, that tells us he is also delusional. A judgment based upon his apparent belief his presidential candidacy would be saved by calling Ms. Kelly "stupid" and a "liar."

The national media, as responsible for Christie's buildup as they are now for his take down, for a long time were clueless about him, missing his bullying tactics, even when he was U.S. Attorney; missing it because they weren't paying attention or were just dazzled by his bigger than life persona.

It's true, of course, after Hurricane Sandy, media and "liberals" were smitten with Christie for having embraced President Obama, a before-the-cameras and media act that earned him the enmity of Republicans and Mr. Romney, but also suggesting liberals sometimes allow their hearts to overrule their heads.

Bridget Anne Kelly made a mistake and has paid for her error in judgment. But I hope she finds a way back. I hope someone will see she has talent and will hire her, enabling her to get on with her life -- and be the mother her children deserve.

As for Chris Christie, New Jersey appears stuck with him for four more years. One may sympathize with the citizens of the Garden State, but relieved the USA's 49 others will be spared this egomaniacal, all-about-me, governor.

Some friends of mine who think of politics as theater don't appear to take Bridgegate seriously, and finding it amusing.

But I wasn't amused, and I didn't write this because I thought it was funny. It isn't.

The more I thought about Christie's outrageous conduct at his press conference and the contrived acts of contrition that followed, the more annoying and off-putting I found it -- for this is morally abhorrent behavior.

So, yes, let's find the truth on what the governor knew and when, but let's not forget this terrible, vanity-driven man, who thinks nothing of ruining someone's life in order to save his own sorry political ass.

The man has no shame -- nor media in ignoring this part of Bridgegate.

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