January 9, 2014

JAMES TARANTO: Road Rage: Chris Christie, the George Washington Bridge and the IRS.

We’d like to develop the point with a bit more specificity. Christie’s reputation as a straight talker has made for a flattering contrast with the smooth-talking Barack Obama. Obama’s deceptions, most notably his fraudulent claims about ObamaCare, have seriously damaged public trust in Washington. Christie’s supposed candor made him look as if he might be the man to restore it.

Worse, the Christie administration’s evident abuse of the Port Authority is reminiscent of the Obama administration’s abuse of the Internal Revenue Service. Neither the governor nor the president has been shown to be directly involved, but each must bear a measure of responsibility for his subordinates’ actions. One of Obama’s worst traits is his unvarnished contempt for his political opponents. The new revelations from Trenton suggest that Christie’s administration, if not the man himself, has a similar quality.

Its sheer pettiness is what distinguishes the GWB scandal from the ObamaCare and IRS ones. The ObamaCare fraud was in the service of an ambitious ideological agenda, and as we have argued, the 2012 election was close enough that it is possible the IRS’s suppression of opposition was necessary to secure the president a second term. Christie, by contrast, is not much of an ideologue and was cruising to an easy re-election.

Indeed. The press seems less excited about the IRS story though.

UPDATE: From the comments: “For pettiness, I believe this bridge fiasco is more on a par with the shutdown of federal parks during the government shutdown than the IRS abuses. The IRS abuses appear to be intimidation for election purposes. The park blockades appeared to be pettiness to prove a point. The bridge fiasco also appears to be pettiness to prove a point.” Good point.

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