Skip to comments.The Failure of the GOPís Class of 2009: Reviewing Chris Christie and Bob McDonnell 50 Months later
Posted on 01/10/2014 7:38:32 AM PST by SeekAndFind
Election night 2009 was one Republicans could savor. A year after Barack Obama had won the presidency, and Democrats had expanded their majorities in the House and Senate, the GOP roared back with two big, hard-fought gubernatorial wins in two key states, with Chris Christie knocking off incumbent Jon Corzine in New Jersey and Bob McDonnell rolling to a landslide victory in Virginia. Both were considered potential future presidential candidates.
Fifty months later, the night appears to have been a false dawn, as both men face accusations, and mounting evidence, of betraying the public trust.
Christie campaigned as the tough guy who could clean up a dirty state, the state of Bob Torricelli, Jim McGreevey, and legendary forms of corruption: An FBI probe into money laundering ended up indicting three mayors and revealing a black-market kidney-smuggling ring. In the Garden State, crime wasnt just organized, it was clinical.
New Jerseys white knight doesnt look so clean today. The explanation from Christie is that he never ordered or encouraged a form of political payback against the mayor of Fort Lee; it was just his deputy chief of staff, Bridget Anne Kelly, and David Wildstein, an appointee to the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, conspiring on their own to ruin the commutes and stress the lives of thousands of people in Fort Lee. The e-mail and text messages between the two and some unidentified party make them sound like villains in an Elmore Leonard novel. First the blunt instruction to make misfortune happen:
Kelly to Wildstein: Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee.
Wildstein to Kelly: Got it.
Then the gloating:
In one exchange of text messages on the second day of the lane closures, Wildstein alludes to messages the Fort Lee mayor had left complaining that school buses were having trouble getting through the traffic.
Is it wrong that Im smiling, the recipient of the text message responded to Wildstein. The persons identity is not clear because the documents are partially redacted for unknown reasons.
No, Wildstein wrote in response.
I feel badly about the kids, the person replied to Wildstein. I guess.
They are the children of Buono voters, Wildstein wrote, making a reference to Barbara Buono, the Democratic candidate for governor, who lost to Christie in a landslide in November.
Best-case scenario, Christie was oblivious to and way too incurious about wretched acts within his administration; worst-case scenario, hes lying now and was in on it. Even if Christie knew nothing, he spent the past two months insisting the accusations of skulduggery were nonsense and a partisan witch hunt. No, he entrusted state power to several aides who took relish in the frustration and aggravation of schoolchildren because of an assumption about the voting patterns of their parents. This is an intolerable combination of cruelty and stupidity.
Again, the most exculpatory explanation for the governor is that he is an awful judge of character, too dismissive of complaints about and accusations of malfeasance in his administration, and too credulous that four days of hellacious traffic were just part of an as-yet-unproduced traffic study.
Christies explanation that he learned of his aides actions on Wednesday requires us to believe that Kelly and Wildstein turned over their e-mails and text messages to investigators, knowing what was in them, and even then still didnt tell their boss anything, permitting him to be blindsided by the revelations. Thursday morning, that was Christies official explanation: I was blindsided.
Christies problems are exacerbated by his being the one most often calling out others for this sort of behavior the medias favorite Republican, willing to rip into his own partys members in the House for holding up a Hurricane Sandy relief bill over concerns about extraneous or pork spending; Christies now-ironic declaration about House Republicans at the time was that politics was placed before oaths to serve our citizens. For me, it was disappointing and disgusting to watch.
The scandal surrounding McDonnell is clearer, and more personal, and may still result in the McDonnells facing charges in a federal courtroom.
McDonnells term ran aground after revelations that he and his family accepted more than $165,000 in gifts and loans from a donor, Jonnie R. Williams Sr., CEO of Star Scientific, Inc. The lavish gifts included a $6,500 Rolex watch; $15,000 to cover the costs of catering for the wedding of the governors daughter; a $15,000 shopping spree in New York City for the governors wife, Maureen; and a loan of $120,000 to her. Under state law in Virginia, governors are required to publicly disclose all gifts over $50, but are not required to disclose gifts to their family. The McDonnells paid back the loan in July of last year.
McDonnell insists he and his administration gave no special favors to Williams or his company. However, in 2011, McDonnell permitted Star Scientific to use the governors mansion for the companys launch party for its new dietary supplement, Anatabloc. Members of the governors staff asked about the legality and propriety of the event but were overruled. The companys Facebook page featured the governor holding its product, an implied endorsement that McDonnells staff claims wasnt authorized.
Weve become blasé about governors and presidents inviting donors to stay in their mansions or the Lincoln Bedroom. But the Commonwealth of Virginia does not provide its governor a mansion so that he can help donors sell their products.
Outside law firms that the Virginia Attorney Generals Office appointed to represent Governor Bob McDonnell and state employees in a criminal case involving a former Executive Mansion chef and related gift probes of the governor already have cost taxpayers more than $780,000.
In his final State of the Commonwealth address, McDonnell echoed the increasingly familiar perhaps now clichéd words of contrition of a public official caught with his hand in the cookie jar:
I am not perfect. But I have always worked tirelessly to do my very best for Virginia. Ive set very high standards for myself. But, as a flawed human being, Ive sometimes fallen short of my own expectations.
Choices I made were legal, and as several reviews have shown, no person or company received any special benefits during our administration.
However, I understand the adverse public impression some of my decisions have left. I have prayed fervently that the collective good we have done over the past four years will not be obscured by this ordeal.
No one made him take those gifts. No one made him decide that the public didnt have a right to know about a six-figure loan to his wife from a campaign donor. And no one made him use the governors mansion as a corporate showroom for an afternoon.
The Washington Post reported that Dana J. Boente, the U.S. attorney for the Eastern District of Virginia, intends to seek an indictment of the McDonnells for helping promote the company in exchange for gifts, citing people familiar with the case. The indictment is expected shortly after McDonnell officially leaves office January 11.
Despite his other achievements in office and the relative good times Virginia enjoyed during his term, Bob McDonnell is likely to be remembered as an embarrassment. The question is whether Christie can escape the same fate.
Jim Geraghty writes the Campaign Spot on NRO.
What is the difference between radical leftist republcans like crispy, crist, boehner, mcconnell, collins and mccain and rats like reid, pelosi, durbin, obama and schmucky schumer?
Giuliani, Conservatives: Christie OK As Long As No ‘Smoking Gun’
Let’s put it this way — If as Christie said in his press conference yesterday, he was betrayed by his staff and he did not know about their machinations behind his back, he’ll be OK.
BUT, If he was really involved in this (in secret), HE’s DONE.
Let’s face it: this wouldn’t even be news if he were a Democrat. Well it might be news—news about mean, nasty Republicans accusing a man of the people.
You are right.
Count them -— FAST and FURIOUS, BENGHAZI, IRS SCANDAL, NSA SNOOPING I could go on and on, yet, the press let’s Obama get away with “I didn’t know about it”.
OK, if Christie was involved he needs to be held into account.
But where’s the perspective and the sense of proportion from our media?
Let’s put it this way.... The Mainstream Media is hyperventilating over a traffic jam?
If only they were as concerned about the gridlock in the halls of Congress in Washington, D.C. as they are about the gridlock on the George Washington Bridge.
To my knowledge, no one has been fired for the hundreds of deaths in Fast & Furious, the 4 deaths in the Benghazi terrorist attack, the IRS scandal, the NSA scandal or the ObamaCare debacle. No one.
But by golly, the Mainstream Media and Democrats are getting their pound of flesh over bumper-to-bumper traffic over the Hudson River.