Just when you think you've seen everything in American politics another story line develops where fact is wilder than fiction. From the time he was first elected New Jersey governor in 2010, the corporate media gave mad love to Chris Christie. He was a "new" kind of Republican and possibly the next president of the United States.
And then: Poof!
Governor Christie is revealed to be the mean-spirited bully his liberal detractors always knew he was. And since he's the chairman of the Republican Governors Association and was widely considered to be the GOP frontrunner for the presidential nomination in 2016, he has become a total disgrace and embarrassment not only to the state of New Jersey, but also to the national Republican Party.
David Wildstein, Governor Christie's high school buddy who he set up at the Port Authority as the director of interstate capital projects, through his attorney, Alan Zegas, indicated at the recent hearing before the New Jersey Assembly (where Wildstein pleaded the Fifth) that his client is too smart a fellow to become Christie's Fall Guy.
Toward the end of the hearing, Zegas made it crystal clear:
"Well, if the Attorneys General for New Jersey, New York, and the United States were all to agree to cloak Mr. Wildstein with an immunity, I think you'd find yourselves in a far different position with respect to information he could provide."
This statement via counsel shows that there's no way in hell Wildstein is willing to spend one day in jail to save Chris Christie's ass.
And that's the beauty of contemporary Republicanism: If you're only in "public service" to enrich yourself and your powerful donors then sacrificing oneself to protect another politician is not even on your radar -- as it is clearly not on David Wildstein's radar.
It's easy to see why Christie stacked the Port Authority with his henchmen and capos: there's a big pot of money there to grease the wheels of his patronage (and punishment) system.
The George Washington Bridge scandal is just a smaller version of the Washington GOP's recent government shutdown: Republicans abusing government power for political ends and putting the hurt on working people in the process.
The Christie administration's abuse of power is part and parcel of the abuses we've endured in recent years coming from the GOP-controlled House of Representatives with its "fiscal cliffs" and shut downs, and the Senate Republicans' historic abuse of the filibuster.
Setting up his cronies to head the New Hampshire Republican Party and manage the Port Authority to dole out patronage are the kind of Gilded Age political machine tactics that fit nicely with the country's current Gilded Age levels of wealth and income inequality. I suppose Christie is a man of the times: an unapologetic servant of plutocracy and corruption.
No one buys Christie's line that he was out of the loop when it came to the doings and sentiments of his own top advisors as they dished out political retribution on his behalf to Fort Lee's Democratic Mayor Mark Sokolich. If the New Jersey legislature can determine that Christie was lying about the politically motivated and dangerous traffic snarls his underlings orchestrated on the world's busiest bridge he should be impeached. It's not complicated.
Those who, for ideological reasons, loathe government can be expected to use it as nothing more than a political tool to beat up enemies and reward friends. This sorry state of affairs has been the Republicans' governing philosophy for over two decades now. If your view of government is so cynical and self-serving you see it as a hindrance to the nation's progress, why not shut it down or use its power to inflict political payback on perceived enemies?
The shameless gerrymandering that took place in Republican-controlled states following the 2010 census; the Supreme Court's January 2010 ruling in Citizens United and its subsequent gutting of the Voting Rights Act; and the Republican efforts to suppress the black, Latino, and youth vote, all point to a corporate and financial elite that appears a little insecure.
Christie's main backers are the Wall Street financial titans. Compared to the freak show that was the Republican primaries in 2012, Christie appeared to be the Great White Hope. They chose him as their handpicked enforcer because of his "toughness" and his "guy's guy" demeanor (according to Britt Hume) to continue the four-decade dance on the heads of working people.
Those who believe that Christie could never win the Republican nomination because of his lack of appeal to GOP base voters -- after all, he was actually caught on film embracing President Obama after Superstorm Sandy -- argue that his chances were always overblown. But in 2012, the Republican Party "at the end of the day" nominated a "moderate" (Mitt Romney) who appeared to have the best chance of unseating Obama.
Christie has already shown that he doesn't really care about wasting tax dollars so long as they're being expended to benefit his political ambitions. Christie's choice of the date of the special Senate election cost New Jersey taxpayers about $25 million just because he didn't want his re-election to share the bill with a larger Democratic turnout. And his alleged use of federal disaster relief funds to pump up his own image via slick campaign-style advertisements reinforces this practice.
Christie's alleged abuse of power will end up costing the taxpayers of New Jersey serious money after all of the lawsuits wind their way through the courts, such as the class-action suit already filed by livery companies that lost a ton of business in September just because Christie's gang of thugs wanted to screw one of their political enemies.
Just as Superstorm Sandy catapulted him to "front-runner" status for 2016, the corrupt bridge story is thrusting him with equal force in the opposite direction. Christie is a proven liar. At his apolopalooza press conference he vehemently denied seeing David Wildstein in ages only to have Wall Street Journal photographs surface a day later where he's seen yucking it up with Wildstein during the heart of the traffic shutdown.
Now that his billionaire donors are likely to jump ship, where does that leave Chris Christie? Christie is nothing without his plutocratic backers. He has no base among "movement conservatives," and now not even his old chums are willing to defend him. But don't fret. He might be able to make a little money by joining Snooki Polizzi and "The Situation" on Jersey Shore.