Chris Christie stumbles on road to GOP nomination

January 9, 2014 

The truth is, Chris Christie, the sharp-tongued governor of New Jersey, was never going to have a soft stroll to the Republican presidential nomination in 2016. He’s too moderate for some Republicans and certainly unacceptable to the tea party, and he had himself photographed in an amicable appearance with President Obama following a flooding disaster.

But what he did have was a reputation as a forthright, nonpolitican politician. Didn’t play the game. Fair. Straightforward. Full of integrity.

Those things may still apply to Christie, but doubts have been raised following a scandal in which it appears that close aides to the governor were involved in closing lanes on the New Jersey side of the George Washington Bridge in September to create a jam and problems for Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich, a Democrat who didn’t endorse Christie for re-election.

Some emergency personnel say they were hindered by the traffic problems. Sokolich, not surprisingly, offered a televised “shame on you” to Christie. He wants a federal investigation.

The governor’s deputy chief of staff sent an email to a Christie friend and appointee to the Port Authority, which controls the bridge. “Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee,” Bridget Anne Kelly wrote to David Wildstein, the New York Times reported. The email undermines earlier claims that the lane closings were about a traffic study.

Christie apologized, expressed dismay and announced he had fired Kelly. But do aides to a strong personality such as Christie really act on their own?

The governor has some explaining to do, and ignorance will be no excuse. The episode is evidence, perhaps, that pedestals are always a bit unsteady and, in politics, often unjustified.

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