Thursday, January 16, 2014

A Tale of Two ...

It's inconvenient for Chris Christie that some conservatives have been calling Obama a thug for the past five years. That puts the term 'thug' in the front of people's minds. So when a few of Christie's staff and appointees conspired to jam up a city in New Jersey, the public is thinking: New Jersey, mob, payback, retribution, thug.

Of course to some people, Obama is a major thug. I'm not sure what they base that on. To me, he's a professorial type, which doesn't share much in common with my image of 'thug.' I guess some people have quite a different impression of Obama from mine.

I don't have many preconceived images for Christie, but I still find it egregious that Christie's people did this, but I started to wonder why. Is this worse than what Obama has done? Is it worse than Benghazi, Solyndra, Fast and Furious, or the IRS treatment of Tea Party groups?

Yes, something does seem worse about it. Benghazi, Solyndra, and Fast and Furious were mistakes in decision-making, but the intentions weren't evil. The IRS, if it was targeting of opposition for the full stricture of regulations, has something in common with what Christie's people did. But to me, it still doesn't feel as bad.

Comment here

It was hard to put my finger on why I felt the Christie scandal was worse. But perhaps I understand now. There's something awful in punishing the people of an entire city where the overwhelming majority are clearly innocent bystanders. Did Christie's staffers really hate that many people? Or maybe they just didn't give a damn. When these staffers valued their vendetta more than they valued the well-being of their citizens, they were clearly unfit to serve in government. Maybe there's a goon squad they can join.

Comment here


Dangerous said...

The reason Bridgegate is worse than any of the imagined scandals or shortcomings of the Obama administration is simple: motive.

While the Right loves to talk about IRS "targeting" of conservative groups, they are wrong on the facts and the motive. The fact is that ALL groups seeking to take advantage of a definitional loophole for a 501c4 tax-exempt designation were to be closely scrutinized. The Right made up the part about politically-motivated targeting or that only right-leaning groups were subject to additional scrutiny. So there's no scandal there. But further, the IRS would just be doing its JOB to make sure that entities that didn't deserve tax-free status weren't getting it. This was a manufactured scandal.

While there were certainly mistakes in Bengazi, most notably by the Ambassador who lost his life in the attacks, there was no motive of those the Right is accuses of wrongdoing for those events to transpire. People know it, and its not a scandal. Further the Rights mouthpieces and water-carriers in Congress voted against more funding for embassy security, so there you go. Plenty of blame to go around. No scandal.

All the rest of manufactured from similar bogus assertion of motive or wrongdoing that they can prove to any standard other than reasonable suspicion. So they investigate and still have ... nothing.

But Bridgegate is real. Something really happened, and the motive was really political retribution, and the wrongdoing is a known crime: reckless endangerment. If it had been college kids sneaking out to rearrange the cones, they'd have been thrown in jail.

And we have proof of a negative motive, with retribution against parties that didn't deserve anything of the kind. So it's more of a tantrum to serve some sort of personal gratification than retribution. That's really bad behavior.

As far as Christie goes, if he didn't know it's because he didn't want to know. But his motive was at least equal to Bridge Kelly's motive. She would never have ordered such a thing on her own to satisfy some personal vendetta, that also involved Christies' guys on the PANYNJ.

There are many more shoes to drop, and Christie has no wiggle room. All it takes is one exposed lie or one overt act, and he's toast. His people are already taking the 5th and seeking immunity, and we're just getting started.

Dakarian said...

Along with what Dangerous said, I think you touched on another element: the target.

The closest type of issue would be the IRS, which, according to the scandal, targeted political opponents. They wanted to hurt conservative groups, so they hit conservative groups. It doesn't sound very healthy at all.

But then you take up the bridge issue. Your target is an opposing mayor. So you target...the various people in the city. If they had impounded the mayor's car or tried to remove him from office then it would be Just Another Political Act we roll our eyes about.

This was someone punishing another by attacking their children. It's harming a Walmart by throwing paint at the customers. Also we have felt times when we've been in heavy traffic. Imagine if one of those times when you were stuck for half a day was because someone you barely know had a grudge against someone else you barely know.

Christie has been known for his harsh attitude, but up to now it's been against those he was formally against. The idea of attacking people who are just somewhat associated with someone he's against makes it just sound ugly.

Also, to KISS it, a LOT of this is really just his testing ground. Anyone big time ends up faced with a scandal at some point they have to deal with. This is Christie's Bain Capital, his Jeremiah Wright, his whitewater, his Benghazi (thinking Hilary in this case, though might be wrong there). The question now is how did he operate during that time and how does he handle it now. This will determine if he has a chance.

If he got in too deep then and messes up in handling himself now then he'll survive where he is now probably but he won't get to the white house. It'll be less about him being 'banned' politically and more of others just looking better and him just not being popular enough or the like.

Dangerous said...

To clarify Dakarian's point on relative basis for scandal, it's important to note that the IRS did not "target" conservative groups. That was just alleged but the facts say otherwise. They targeted groups seeking 501c4 tax-exempt designations that might not deserve it under the law, and it was both conservative and progressive groups that receive additional scrutiny, as they should.

Conservative groups claimed that was "targeting", but it is those same groups (along with ones on the other side, politically) that asked for special treatment which requires scrutiny by the IRS to earn it. They succeeded in making it the media truth for a time (to serve their immediately political interests), but it wasn't true so the 'scandal' fizzled.

Christie will not survive this, although he may hang on as Governor of New Jersey if his claims of total ignorance are sustained throughout the entire investigation. With everyone lawyering-up, that isn't likely. Besides, apart from the traffic snarl being an ugly case of "hitting down", there was an active cover-up from the start -- they intended to make some kind of political retribution look like a traffic study. Such an attempt to preemptively provide everyone with plausible deniability!!

It didn't work, but I suspect that is because they pressed it too far and it was ill-conceived to start.

Here's another parallel potential scandal: suppose the Christie administration gave extra scrutiny to claims for Sandy aid from residents of areas that are predominantly Democratic, or have municipal leaders who are Democrats. The idea is to punish those residents that likely did not support him, or instigate dissatisfaction among the voters against his political opponents.

I'd reckon that would be an even bigger scandal for the Governor of New Jersey. But it looks as if this pattern is true, too. The common patterns is to use the levers of power to control the politics.