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Tue Jan 14, 2014, 05:11 PM

 

The Trouble With Christie - George Packer/TheNewYorker

The Trouble With Christie
George Packer - TheNewYorker
1/14/14

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On the scale of Teapot Dome and Iran-Contra and even Monica, the four-day closing of two approach lanes to the George Washington Bridge is very minor league.

So why do I keep having flashbacks to 1972? Some of the parallels are weirdly exact. Whether or not he ordered the Watergate bugging, Richard Nixon ran a campaign of dirty tricks for two reasons: he wanted to run up the score going into his second term, and he was a supremely mean-spirited man. Nixon’s reëlection campaign reached out to as many Democrats as possible (not just elected officials but rank-and-file blue-collar workers and Catholics). Nixon ran not as the Republican Party’s leader but, in the words of his bumper sticker, as just “President Nixon.” His landslide win over George McGovern translated into no Republican advantage in congressional races—the Democrats more than held their own. The Washington Post’s David Broder later called it “an extraordinarily selfish victory.”

Christie’s 2013 reëlection tracks closely with this story: an all-out effort to court Democrats in order to maximize his personal power, and a landslide victory in November, with all the benefit going to the Governor, not to his fellow-Republicans in the state legislature. On Christmas, the Times published a piece about Christie’s long record of bullying and retribution. In it, the Fort Lee traffic jam was mentioned as just one of many cases (and, I have to admit, not the one that stayed with me) of vengefulness so petty that it inescapably called to mind the American President who incarnated that quality, and was brought down by it.

In the e-mails that went public last week when the scandal broke, the tone of Christie’s aides and appointees displays the thuggery and overweening arrogance that were characteristic of Nixon’s men when the President was at the height of his popularity—utter contempt for opponents, not the slightest anxiety about getting caught. In both cases, whether or not the boss sanctioned these actions, the tone came from the top. It’s the way officials talk when they feel they have nothing to fear, when there’s a kind of competition to sound toughest, because that’s what the boss wants and rewards. Once all hell broke loose, Christie insisted, in a compelling and self-indulgent press conference that, like his keynote speech, was all about himself, that he was the scandal’s biggest victim. “I am not a bully,” he said, in an echo of one of Nixon’s most famous remarks.

Character is destiny, and politicians usually get the scandals they deserve, with a sense of inevitability about them. Warren G. Harding surrounded himself with corrupt pols and businessmen, then checked out, leading to the most sensational case of bribery in American history. Ronald Reagan combined zealotry and fantasy, and Oliver North acted them out. Bill Clinton was libidinous and truth-parsing but also cautious, while George W. Bush was an incurious crusader who believed himself chosen by God and drove almost the entire national-security establishment into lawlessness without thinking twice. Christie, more than any of these, is reminiscent of the President whose petty hatefulness destroyed him—which is why, as NBC’s newscaster said when signing off on an early report on that long-ago burglary, I don’t think we’ve heard the last of this.


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The rest: http://www.newyorker.com/online/blogs/comment/2014/01/the-trouble-with-christie.html


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Reply The Trouble With Christie - George Packer/TheNewYorker (Original post)
WillyT Jan 2014 OP
frazzled Jan 2014 #1
WillyT Jan 2014 #2
Liberal_in_LA Jan 2014 #3

Response to WillyT (Original post)

Tue Jan 14, 2014, 05:18 PM

1. Yes, and yes

That's it. Exactly. Bingo.

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Response to frazzled (Reply #1)

Wed Jan 15, 2014, 07:20 PM

2. Yes...

 




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Response to WillyT (Original post)

Wed Jan 15, 2014, 08:14 PM

3. kick

 

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