Chris Christie’s meteoric rise to fame was fueled by viral videos and then a hurricane taking him out of a state that prior to the brief reign of the Jersey Shore most of the country paid very little attention to.
New Jersey politics are entirely local. And, like New York politics and politics across much of the tri-state area, they consist of petty and meanspirited battles between political cronies with tiny fiefdoms protecting their authority and punishing their enemies.
Fierce battles are fought over local councils, over single streets or over a footnote in a bill. Corruption is so endemic that it is really the entire point of the system, which otherwise exists to approve school budgets, raise property taxes, deal with road issues and take kickbacks from developers.
I’m no fan of Chris Christie, but he has thrived in a nasty and vicious political environment. As bad as Christie is, his Democratic opponents are even worse. Lest anyone forget, he was preceded by two crooked Dem governors, both of whom should have been in jail. If Christie leaves, he’ll be replaced by another partisan hack.
As petty and nasty as Bridgegate sounds when it becomes a national story, it really is exactly the kind of thing that you expect from either side or both sides. And it’s entirely possible that Christie wasn’t even involved. Considering his plans for 2016, it’s more likely that he’s looking at a national map, instead of settling local scores. But Christie being himself, it’s also possible that he is.
And it doesn’t really matter. There have been plenty of prior events that were enough to leave a bad taste in anyone’s mouth. But Sandy made a lot of people in New Jersey overlook all that.
Christie hugged Obama and briefly became the good Republican. Now he’s being transformed back into the bad Republican. And that was always going to happen.
And if you think Bridgegate is bad, imagine what the media will have on top if he wins the primaries and is facing off against Hillary.
Bridgegate is not some extraordinary event by New Jersey standards. It’s the typically petty politics of a place overrun by petty corruption and where getting anything done requires negotiating the petty fiefdoms of political appointees.
Bridgegate is business as usual in New Jersey. It doesn’t tell us anything special about Chris Christie except that he is the Governor of New Jersey.