If there was ever a perfect metaphor for today’s Republican party, it is Chris Christie. He is yet another excellent example of the fact that there really are not only no “moderates” in the modern Republican party but also no room for anyone so called. And Christie epitomizes the sense of entitlement and quest for power, simply for power’s sake, that is also reflective of today’s GOP. He lies shamelessly, is belligerent, and is far more focused on his own fortunes than that of the country. Christie rode his “moderate” credentials into power in New Jersey and made a national name for himself by actually working with Obama in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy. But, in retrospect, that physical and symbolic embrace of Obama was merely a show, a charade, in Christie’s quest for more power and prestige.
One of his first acts as Governor was to have New Jersey pull out of its end of building a third rail tunnel between his state and New York. Although much of the funding for that effort was federally funded, Christi backed out, lying that the state could not afford the cost of the project. Christie overstated the cost of the tunnel by a factor of 40% and stated New Jersey would incur 70% of the cost of the project when the actual number was below 15%. He also claimed that the state would be responsible for any cost overruns which was also a lie. His repudiation of infrastructure investment is typical of the current Republican party where any government spending can never be considered an investment and the only groups the party believes capable of something called investment are the wealthy and corporations.
Needless to say, just like Republicans refusal to use the opportunity of below zero real rates of interest in invest in our infrastructure and our economy, Christie’s decision came back to haunt his state when electrical failures in the tunnels, already over 100 years old and ravaged by salt water from Sandy, started to occur regularly, causing massive disruptions for New Jersey commuters and probably costing the regional economy millions. More critically, the tunnels that Christie cancelled would probably be coming online next year, providing relief for Jersey commuters, already suffering under Christie’s other cuts to New Jersey Transit, and keeping the state just one failure away from an economic and transportation disaster.
For those not in the know, Christie’s stance on the rail tunnel sounded like smart fiscal discipline in the wake of the financial crisis. In reality, Christie wanted to use the monies already allocated for the tunnel to shore up the state’s transportation fund so that he would not have to increase the gas tax. Like Republicans around the country, raising taxes is verboten, an anathema, and they will rob our future in order to do so. The ironic thing is that the transportation fund eventually did run dry and transportation improvements in the state basically shut down in the state for months until Christie finally caved and raised the gas tax.
As we all remember, there was a time when Christie was one of the favorites to perhaps win the Republican nomination for President. He was still a popular governor running for what would be an easy re-election victory. But rather than just win, Christie was determined to force as many Democrats in the state to endorse and support him, all in the hopes of boosting his presidential chances. That led him to retaliate against the mayor of Fort Lee for refusing to endorse him and creating the Bridgegate scandal where he shut down lanes on the George Washington Bridge for purely political reasons. While Christie avoided any legal consequences for himself, it was clear from evidence and testimony that Christie was well aware of what was going on and condoned it. And to this day, Christie continues to blatantly lie about that fact, just like Republicans lie about tax cuts paying for themselves or virtually everything about their plans to repeal and replace Obamacare.
Perhaps the only difference for Christie, at least so far, is that his lies about Bridgegate damaged his presidential hopes. On the other hand, it also seems pretty clear that the Republican electorate was in no mood to nominate someone with Christie’s so-called “moderate” credentials. But just like the Republican party as a whole, Christie actually worked, even while still a candidate, to boost Donald Trump. And he became the first major Republican politician besides probably Jeff Sessions to endorse Trump, even before it was clear he would be nominated.
And now Christie, polling at numbers even lower than the Republican health care proposals, displays the sense of entitlement and privilege that pervades the GOP as a whole. Christie and the legislature were unwilling and unable to come to an agreement on a new budget, largely over a dispute about how much money Horizon Blue Cross Blue Shield must hold in reserve before contributing to the state’s public health fund. This forced Christie to shut down the government, including the state parks and beaches, over this extended July 4th holiday weekend. If that wasn’t bad enough, Christie himself took his family and friends to one of those closed beaches where there is a state residence for the governor. He had the whole beach to himself as it was closed to the public. Christie’s attitude was typically belligerent, saying, “That’s the way it goes. Run for governor, and you can have the residence”, sounding remarkably Trumpian. Christie was also asked if he got any sun while at the beach but replied he hadn’t. That proved to be a lie when photos showed him lounging on the sun-washed beach. When confronted with that photo, his spokesman responded that Christie was telling the truth because he had been wearing a hat. And that pretty well sums up the Republican approach to almost everything today. They feel they can lie about anything and everything, even the most mundane issues, and expect to get away with it.
Christie pretty much epitomizes the Republican party today. A faux moderate who becomes Trump’s biggest supporter. A serial liar who feels entitled to the perks of his office. And a man more interested in his own political future than that of the country.
Originally published at tidalsoundings.blogspot.com on July 3, 2017.