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The Rant

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To the tune of: "Toot Toot Tootsie Goodbye" (public domain)
by Gus Kahn and Randy Haspel

Kiss Chris Christie goodbye/ Goodbye Christie don't cry.
You tried to close the bridge to Fort Lee/Because the mayor said you were portly.
The scandal has you on the ropes/
There go your presidential hopes.
Your nose grows longer when you lie,
So kiss Chris Christie goodbye.
 

This is going to be fun. Every day in every way, new revelations emerge, not just about the ugly political payback, which snarled traffic from Fort Lee, New Jersey, to the George Washington Bridge, but about the entire workings of the Chris Christie administration. There will be hearings, and subpoenas, and witnesses, and great political theater, all over the misuse of public infrastructure to punish a Democratic mayor who declined to endorse the governor for reelection.

Christie's "may this buck be passed from me" speech at a press conference defies logic. When Christie says the traffic jams were ordered by members of his staff without his knowledge, that can mean only one of two things — either he's a liar or a fool. In either case, he has effectively disqualified himself from the 2016 presidential sweepstakes.

It's technically possible that Christie never heard about the bridge debacle. It's called "plausible deniability." It's an old Nixon trick. He might have told members of his staff, "Go and do what you have to, just don't tell me about it." In this scenario, Christie is like the lawyer, Tom Hayden, in The Godfather, who doesn't wish to hear information that could make him liable in a court proceeding. But if Christie's closest aides pulled off this entire stunt under the governor's nose without him noticing, then he's an idiot. 

Among this oddball cast of Jersey Shore, somebody's getting immunity from prosecution, and then it all spills out, right on the clean carpet. Christie is already under a federal investigation regarding how his administration spent $25 million of government aid after Hurricane Sandy to promote tourism. At the request of New Jersey Democratic Senator Frank Pallone Jr., the inspector general at HUD conducted a preliminary review of the expenditures and found enough evidence to justify a complete audit. Among the findings were that Christie hired a public relations firm close to the governor's office, even though another firm's bid for the job was for $2 million less. The difference was that the linked-in PR firm proposed to feature Christie and his family in commercials touting the Jersey shore while the other firm did not. Seeing Chris Christie on a beach would seem to have the opposite effect from the commercial's intent. It would certainly encourage me to find another place to swim. Then there is that additional two-or-so million dollars that Christie cost his state by declaring a special election because he didn't want to be on the same ballot with newly elected Senator Cory Booker.

The latest accusations come from Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer, another Democrat who had the temerity not to endorse the governor's reelection campaign. Zimmer accused the Christie administration of holding Hurricane Sandy relief funds hostage unless she approved a real estate deal benefiting an outfit called the Rockefeller Group. When she balked at the proposal, the $100 million in governmental aid that Hoboken had requested was reduced to the $300,000 that the city received. A Christie spokesman replied that the allegations were, "outlandishly false," but after the governor's denial, Zimmer told CNN, "I stand by my word." Then Zimmer went off to a meeting with U.S. attorneys.

Other stories have surfaced about the governor leaning on people and/or meting out punishment to his foes. The New York Times reports stories of "a former governor stripped of police security at public events" and a university professor who lost state funding for pet projects because of negative comments he made about Christie. This is the behavior of the potential future President of the United States? For Christie to claim that he never heard a word about it is like Clinton saying, "I never had sexual relations with that woman."

We've already been through this. Every bit of this activity is reminiscent of the Nixon administration: the dirty tricks, the political payback, the persecution of perceived "enemies," the lying, the cover-up. Who needs this again? It will make for entertaining TV in the coming weeks, but Christie can kiss his presidential ambitions goodbye. The tired cliche, "stick a fork in him," seems appropriate in this case. I would never make fun of the morbidly obese, but in preparation for a 2016 presidential run, the governor has gotten that lap-band stomach operation that seemed to work so well for Al Roker and Al Sharpton, and it ain't gonna happen. He may as well reverse the procedure and start eating again. Then he can truly become another fat-cat Republican also-ran in the ongoing implosion of the party. Christie's apologetic statement that "I am not a bully" caused a public flashback to Richard Nixon's famous quote, "I am not a crook." Whether it was public denial or merely self-denial, the same is true in both incidences. Richard Nixon was a crook and Chris Christie is a bully. Make that, "was" a bully.

Need I say, "the bigger they come?"

Randy Haspel writes the "Born-Again Hippies" blog, where a version of this column first appeared.

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