On the coattails of Chris Christie’s “Bridgegate” scandal, a new book is about to be released, detailing more political backbiting by politicians.
“HRC: State Secrets and the Rebirth of Hillary Clinton,” by Amie Parnes and Jonathan Allen, tells of a political “hit list” naming people who have slighted or supported Hillary’s 2008 bid against Obama, to use as a reference when doling out favors. It’s making headlines, and I’m sure Christie welcomed the distraction, but the two situations are not compatible. Not all revenge is equal.
It’s simply a fact that rewards and punishments are part of Washington politics. If your party is in power, and you are a freshman Congressman or Senator, or are vulnerable in the election, you will get choice committee assignments, and even appropriations for your district.
If the opposite party is in power, you could be punished also with less than desirable office accommodations. You can be appalled by it, but I’m not. This is strategy, and honestly the kind of survival tactic used in the private sector as well. I’m not even bothered or surprised that the Clintons kept a revenge and rewards list. Who cares? Don’t most people make mental notes of who is for or against us? They were just stupid enough to keep an actual spreadsheet for it.
What bothers me is when the general public are used as pawns in calculated political games, like in Bridgegate, the IRS or National Park Service instances.
Those involved in Bridgegate didn’t just refuse Governor Christie’s presence for a campaign event, or withhold endorsement, for revenge. I’m good with that kind of “punishment.” Instead, his staff ordered the closing of the George Washington Bridge for four days, in retribution against Democrat Mayor Mark Sokolich of Fort Lee, for not endorsing Christie in the last election. This kind of punishment is not OK. It’s an abuse of power to treat the American public like chess pieces, instead as real people with lives. Politicians and staffers should stick to spiting each other, and leave the rest of us out of it.
Someone died after the bridge delay. And while the family stated the 91 year-old cardiac arrest victim wouldn’t have made it anyway, what if it was a different situation?
According to reports, there were four other delayed emergency responses because of the backup. Not only that, but what if someone had missed their child’s dance recital, a job interview, a doctor appointment, or a parent-teacher conference? These are all very important things to people. It’s not difficult for a political aide get a God complex, and that’s what happened here.
I am not going to say that Governor Christie knew or authorized this – those of us on the outside don’t know. What we do know is Governor Christie is not a stranger to scandal. He is being investigated by the U.S. Housing and Urban Development for misusing funds allocated from Hurricane Sandy. He has been accused of cutting program funding of a political scientist after his vote regarding a redistricting map that didn’t favor Republicans. He has a reputation as having zero-tolerance for anyone opposing him, taking everything personally, and making veiled threats.
According to the New York Times, Democrat Assemblyman John S. Wisniewski, who is leading the hearings regarding “Bridgegate,” said, “Every organization takes its cues from the leadership as to what’s acceptable and what’s not, and this governor, in his public appearances, has made thuggery acceptable. For the governor to say, ‘I knew nothing about this’? He created the atmosphere in which this is acceptable.”
If only the Democrats would apply the same standard to President Barack Obama.
Under Obama, conservatives were victims of IRS targeting for political slight, the Obama Administration lied about Benghazi in a political cover up, and then who can forget about the government shutdown shenanigans. The National Park service held tourists on house arrest in the Old Faithful Inn, while the geyser was active so the visitors couldn’t see it, because that would be “recreating.” Toting guns and blocking views, our tax dollars paid rangers to do Obama’s political dirty work.
World War II vets were blocked from visiting their monument, and rangers also closed the shoulder near Mount Rushmore, so no one could stop and admire this national treasure. Does all of this scare you? It should.
What Christie’s staff and the Obama Administration have done boils down to sheer malevolence. I’m not accusing Christie of knowing, but there are too many other questions surrounding him, and someone with this record would be fired in the private sector.
Elected officials and their aides need to remember they are servants of the public. Both Christie and Obama and their people need to go. There is no room in political service for those who toy with the very lives of the American people.