Christie trumps Obama when it comes to damage control

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Traffic was backed up for miles in Fort Lee, New Jersey for four days in September because of lane closures on the George Washington Bridge leading into New York City.

Lane closures on the GWB are nothing new. But this one happened because aides to New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie wanted to punish Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich for not endorsing their boss.

“Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee,” Deputy Chief of Staff Bridget Kelly said in an email to David Wildstein, a Christie appointee to the New York/New Jersey Port Authority.

“Got it,” he responded. The Port Authority ordered the lane closures, ostensibly to study traffic patterns.

Massive inconvenience may have become tragedy when the traffic jam nearly doubled the time it took for an ambulance to get to the home of a 91 year old Fort Lee woman who suffered a heart attack. Florence Genova was dead by the time the EMS technicians arrived.

Mr. Christie held a marathon news conference Thursday to respond to the burgeoning scandal.

He didn’t learn what his aides had done until he read the emails in the Bergen Record the day before, the governor said.

“I come out here to apologize to the people of New Jersey,” he said. “I am embarrassed and humiliated.”

He fired Ms. Kelly, demanded that his former campaign manager, who’d been aware of the scheme, resign as chairman of the New Jersey GOP.

“I was disturbed by the tone and behavior and attitude and the callous indifference that was displayed in the emails by former campaign manager Bill Stepien,” Mr. Christie said.

Mr. Wildstein resigned from the Port Authority last month.

He invoked his Fifth Amendment right against self incrimination during a state Assembly committee hearing Thursday.

The scandal provides us with a vivid contrast in damage control techniques, and the most brazen example yet of news media bias and double standards.

Nothing is ever President Barack Obama’s fault.

Mr. Christie fired those known to be responsible.

Mr. Obama has yet to hold anyone accountable for the botched Obamacare rollout, IRS targeting of conservatives, lax security at our consulate in Benghazi, Justice Department spying on journalists, NSA spying on all of us, etc.

Mr. Christie answered questions until journalists ran out of them.

The Obama administration is the most secretive since Nixon’s, even liberal journalists acknowledge.

If it turns out the governor did know what his aides were doing, he can kiss presidential ambitions goodbye. And good riddance.

I think that wildly improbable, chiefly because what was done was so petty and pointless.

Fort Lee is a nothingburger town. Mayor Sokolich is a Democrat. Democrats don’t customarily endorse Republicans. With or without his endorsement, Mr. Christie was going to win in a landslide.

“I am stunned by the abject stupidity that was shown here,” Mr. Christie said. So am I.

In 24 hours, the broadcast networks devoted 17 times as much air time to “Bridgegate” as they have to to the IRS scandal in six months, according to the Media Research Center.

It’s not likely Mr. Christie knew what his aides were doing. It’s not likely Mr. Obama didn’t know what the IRS was doing.

The Christie administration shut down two lanes of traffic unnecessarily for four days.

The Obama administration shut down national parks and monuments unnecessarily for two weeks. Journalists barely mentioned that.

Her daughter doesn’t think “Bridgegate” had anything to do with Florence Genova’s death. If it did, how could that be worse than the murder of a U.S. ambassador in Libya, or running guns to Mexican drug cartels?

If the news media can tear down Mr. Christie by manufacturing a scandal, they’ll do the same to potential GOP presidential candidates conservatives like better. We must call the news media on their blatant hypocrisy.

Which could backfire. I disagree with Mr. Christie on many issues, but I admire his straight talk, and his decisiveness.

After eight years of “leading from behind” and nonstop mendacity, Americans will be yearning for those qualities in a president.

Jack Kelly is a columnist for The Pittsburgh Press: or 412-263-1476.

First Published January 14, 2014 4:39 PM

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