No, really: It’s over for Christie in 2016

From Salon:

The bridge scandal lets national media dredge up every instance of pettiness, rage and payback. There are plenty

Friday, Jan 10, 2014

MSNBC’s Rachel Maddow floated an intriguing counter-theory Thursday night for why Gov. Chris Christie’s top aides closed four lanes to the George Washington Bridge to strangle Fort Lee in traffic in September 2013. She had to go back to August 2013, when Christie exploded in a paroxysm of pettiness in an ongoing clash with state senate Democrats about his Supreme Court picks. In one of his trademark press tantrums, he refused to reappoint a Republican judge because she would face tough sledding in the Senate, snarling at Senate Democrats, led by Fort Lee Sen. Loretta Weinberg, as “animals.”

That was the evening of Aug. 12. The morning of Aug. 13, Bridget Anne Kelly sent the eight-word torpedo that would take out Fort Lee’s main artery to the bridge (and her career): “Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee.” Bridge official and Christie ally David Wildstein answered “Got it,” as though the concept of “traffic problems in Fort Lee” were as familiar to him as the need for more snow plows or EZPass lanes. Maddow suggested that the real trigger for the punishment was not Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich’s failure to endorse Christie’s re-election, but the Fort Lee’s state senator’s ongoing feud with Christie, which had exploded the night before. He once told reporters to “take a bat” to the 78-year-old grandmother (figuratively, of course), and the Supreme Court battle sent Christie to a new level of rage.

Maddow’s theory is fascinating, though it isn’t airtight. There’s no mention of Weinberg in the 22 pages of email released — although hundreds more remain to be examined — and it doesn’t explain why Kelly, Wildstein and Christie campaign manager Bill Stepian were so focused on insults to Sokolich, slurred as “the little Serbian” and “an idiot” in their correspondence. Still, it ought to send reporters down a new trail, if they weren’t there already.

Watching it in real time Thursday night, I was struck by the story behind Maddow’s story: the ugly tale of Christie’s state Supreme Court bullying, which began when he refused to re-appoint the court’s only African American judge, John Wallace Jr., the first time any governor had used that power in the 63 years since it was established. It made clear to me the radioactive toxicity of the bridge scandal for Christie, even if no evidence emerges to tie him directly to the Fort Lee revenge plot: it forces local and national reporters to revisit every instance of Christie’s pettiness, wrath and payback. And there are many.

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