The rap on Chris Christie's aides in Bridgegate is that they crossed the line when they put ordinary citizens at risk for the sake of a petty political vendetta. But let's get real - the Republican party has been putting ordinary citizens at risk for years in their ongoing political vendetta against President Obama. It may not be as obvious as a traffic jam, but it's every bit as real, and much more serious.
When you shut down the government, as the Republicans did with the debt ceiling debacle, you are hurting millions of people. It's not just the inconvenience of a traffic jam, but the loss of jobs, businesses, social programs and lots of other critical services. From the debt ceiling fight to the delay in extending unemployment benefits, the Republicans have harmed millions of ordinary citizens, all for the sake of a vendetta against a single politician.
Sure, the Republicans make the argument that they are fighting for deficit reduction or lower taxes, but it's hard to swallow the argument that you are helping average folks by shutting down the government or refusing to extend unemployment benefits all for the sake of a very dubious economic theory, or worse, for a largely bankrupt and extreme political ideology.
None of this is to excuse Chris Christie and his administration for their egregious bullying tactics. And to dismiss their actions, as Christie did, as simple "stupidity" is ridiculous. Whatever mistakes were made arose from a climate of partisanship that is pervasive in the country and most especially in the Republican party. The Christie folks were simply exercising the Jersey version of an extreme partisan ethos that has captured the Republican party ever since Obama was elected.
Certainly, Democrats are guilty of partisanship, but largely in response to the extremism of the right wing faction of the Republicans, which has effectively captured the GOP. You simply do not witness the ideological fanaticism on the left that is now an everyday occurrence in Republican quarters.
Chris Christie's presidential aspirations may well be doomed. A New York paper headline summed up Christie's chances: "Fuggetaboutit!" But there is a deeper lesson that has yet to be learned by the Republicans - political vendettas never have winners. When a political party engages in wholesale vendettas, as the Republican party has done for almost six years, they are the ones who will be the big losers.