Roger’s Rules

Of Motes & Beams: Bridgegate Edition

“And why beholdest thou the mote that is in thy brother’s eye, but considerest not the beam that is in thine own eye?”

–Matthew 7:3

Unlike many of my friends, I am not a particular fan of Chris Christie. Sure, I enjoyed watching him take apart that preposterous teacher who, with tremulous voice, complained that the state of New Jersey wasn’t paying enough of her bills. Delicious, I think, and sound policy to boot.

But notwithstanding his embarrassing protestations to the contrary, I think he is a bully. That’s not the reason I am not part of the Christie fan club, though. To my mind, Christie has about as much chance of being president as all those other establishment candidates who have been paraded before us as “mainstream,” “not divisive,” etc. Remember Bob Dole? Remember John McCain? Remember Mitt Romney?  We were supposed to rally round them and eschew other candidates because the other candidates were “extreme” or “unelectable.”

Let’s grant that the establishment candidates were not “unelectable.” But none was elected. Will we never learn?

I also think Chris Christie is very unsound on a lot of issues. He waffled, in a distinctly Islamophilic direction, over the so-called Ground Zero Mosque. I’m told by my New Jersey friends that he has failed to rein in state taxes. The aroma of big-government, machine politics clings resolutely to Chris Christie.

That said, there is something surreal about the reaction to the revelations about the George Washington Bridge lane closures. Really, it is like something out of Jonathan Swift.

Aide the first: “Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee.”

Aide the second: “Got it.”

Yikes. And Friday’s allegation by the lawyer for aide number 2, former Port Authority official David Wildstein, that Christie knew about the lane closures when they were happening has the salivary glands of Christie’s enemies working overtime.

Christie denies the allegation. He’s a smart guy, and I suspect the record will bear him out. In the end, I’d wager, the most we’ll discover is that Christie had a Henry II “Will-no-one-rid-me-of -this-turbulent-priest” scene:

Gov (muttering to himself): “Thou lily-livered poltroon mayor of Fort Lee! Darest thou refuse to support my reelection? I will do such things — what they are, I know not yet. Mayhap you’ll find the traffic around your puny town of pell mell havoc and confusion.” 

Well, something like that. And Lady Bridget of Bridgegate, she of the ill-advised email, might have thought, “If it were done when tis done, then ’twere well it were done quickly.” Or words to that effect.

So what do we have here? There’s been lots of sanctimonious sniffing from the commentariat and (natch) Christie’s political rivals. “The worst example of a petty political vendetta,” quoth the New York Daily News.” Then there’s the New Jersey Star-Ledger, which has thundered that Christie ought to resign or be impeached if David Wildstein’s allegations turn out to be true.

Do you really think so? What is it, exactly, that Christie is accused of? Creating a traffic jam? No, not quite. Ordering a traffic jam? No, that’s not quite right either. Being irritated with the mayor of Fort Lee, who declined to endorse his reelection bid, and wishing to get back at him somehow and then not minding when he was embarrassed with some really bad traffic over the George Washington Bridge?

That last comes pretty close to what the governor of New Jersey is accused of.

Pretty heinous, eh? I mean, you never see bad traffic on the George Washington Bridge. And of course, no politicians ever indulge in political pay-back.

 Governor implicated in traffic jam. 

Political opponents demand impeachment.

 

How’s that for a headline?

Meanwhile, back on planet Earth, the president of the United States publicly declares he is willing to contravene the Constitution in order to achieve his agenda. He’s been on that jog for quite a while now, and his State of the Union address last week reinforced his out-of-touch imperial ambitions. Some are joking — some joke! — that he appears to think of himself as a sort of secular Trinity, embodying in his own person the three branches of government.

So what do we have here?

Chris Christie turns a blind eye (maybe) to a traffic jam on the George Washington Bridge. Barack Obama: what’s he done?  Andrew McCarthy has done the world a service by providing a little primer of presidential pejoration.

 If you’re on the team, “amnesty” does not begin to describe the immunity windfall. Sic the IRS on American citizens in order to frustrate their participation in election campaigns? No worries . . . and no prosecutions, not even for officials who take the Fifth in congressional testimony because they believe answering questions will confirm their criminality. Case closed: No need even to interview the victims, innocent people who were nonetheless intimidated by the prospect of audits, fines, civil lawsuits, criminal prosecution, and, above all, prohibitive legal fees — the wages of both compliance and resistance. After all, the victims opposed Obama. As they say at Alinsky, Inc.: “We won, get over it.”

Benghazi? Remember: The serial derelictions of the president’s duty to protect Americans under siege? Obama’s instigation of an unauthorized war with no vital American interests at stake — a war that empowered anti-American jihadists? The NATO campaign that abetted the Qaddafi murder — notwithstanding the ban on assassinations of heads of state and our government’s prior representation that Qaddafi was an important U.S. counterterrorism ally? Oh well . . . as so memorably put between chuckles by Secretary “What Difference” herself: “We came, we saw, he died!” On to the minimum wage.

Then there’s the gargantuan Obamacare con job: the sedulous administration lying, the willfully false lulling, the law’s unconstitutional enactment, the lawlessly imperial “waivers,” the shameful subsidies to buy off members of Congress and their staffs, the unlawful IRS enforcement in states that declined to participate, the transparent campaign to usher in a single-payer government takeover by breaking the health-care insurance system. It is the most massive fraud in American history, and there will be no investigations or prosecutions. . . .

We could go on about faithful execution of the laws, Obama-style: the non-recess recess appointments; the Justice Department’s racially discriminatory civil-rights enforcement; the Solyndra “green-energy” boondoggle, featuring Obama’s blatant misrepresentations of a publicly traded company’s financial health and his subsequent override of a federal law meant to protect taxpayers — the better to shield his cronies from losses when the company inevitably collapsed. (Now that’s Obamacare!) But such offenses are not the half of it. What is most breathtaking is the Obama administration’s vindictiveness.

Hey, but wasn’t it vindictiveness, when you come right down to it, that has Chris Christie twisting in the wind? Isn’t it because he has been a big bad meany that the Star-Ledger is calling on him to resign or be impeached?  Well, how about the Obama administration’s performance in the vindictiveness sweepstakes? Consider the fate of Nakoula Nakoula, the shady chap who was behind Innocence of Muslims, the internet video trailer that was supposedly responsible for the “spontaneous” but orchestrated attack against our consulate in Bengahzi. No traffic jam there, only Americans dead. McCarthy explains:

After the Benghazi terrorist attack, it emerged that Nakoula had produced the scapegoat video. In theory, that activity was completely protected by constitutional free-speech principles; in practice, however, the administration was hell-bent on blaming the video and its maker for both the massacre and the violent proclivities of Islamic radicalism. Agents were thus dispatched to arrest Nakoula in the dead of night. He was grilled about making the film — meaning: He was interrogated about exercising his First Amendment rights. He was prosecuted for a “supervised-release violation” culled, in part, out of false statements about the production of the video. After being held without bail as a purported “danger to the community,” Nakoula was sentenced to another year in prison — as much time as he’d served for the underlying bank fraud.

Understand, in normal law enforcement this never happens. Agents and prosecutors are supposed to be too busy with real crimes to probe non-suspects over activity that is palpably not criminal. Furthermore, nonviolent criminals suspected of, at best, petty supervised-release violations are not arrested — they are given summonses to appear in court on their own recognizance. They are not detained without bail but left at liberty until the court date. And rarely, absent commission of a serious new crime, are they sent to jail on a first supervised-release violation. Instead, the judge gives them a tongue-lashing, warns them to honor the supervised-release terms from now on, and sends them on their way. With jails overcrowded, it often takes three or four violations before a court will finally re-incarcerate a convict.

But you don’t get normal law enforcement if you run afoul of Obama and if your torment would have just the right in terrorem effect. Nakoula was too useful to pass up: For Americans, the administration framed him as the villain in its “blame the video” charade; for Muslims, he became Exhibit A of Obama’s plan for people who dare “slander the prophet of Islam.”

So here we have it: a traffic jam on the George Washington Bridge vs. a rogue president who selectively enforces the law, who governs by fiat, and who ruthlessly employs the engines of state coercion against those who get in his way.  Mote, meet beam. Where’s St. Matthew when you need him?

Also read: Christie Attacks the New York Times for ‘Sloppy Reporting’