New Jersey Governor Chris Christie's flight to New Hampshire got stuck in the George Washington Bridge traffic. Plans were probably on for a field organization to romp through New Hampshire, Iowa, and other states. The television ads would show competence, confidence and incorruptibility. The emotional punch of a corruption fighting blue state Republican standing up for overtaxed homeowners, against public employee unions, for those with no voice, as the waters of Hurricane Sandy receded before his feet like the Israelites crossing into the Promised Land.
The Oval Office, much smaller in reality than what television may have us believe, was ready for the great man from New Jersey. Even the evangelicals would find their crafty plans to stop Christie in South Carolina dashed. He would win. The next generation of great political consultants were ready to grab up pundit cable network and book contracts. It would be bigger than Hollywood. Christie conquers America.
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Not so fast. The bridge is blocked. Fort Lee, right on the other side of the Hudson from Manhattan, has a traffic jam. Lanes are closed. And maybe the early 2016 flights to New Hampshire are cancelled.
In politics sometimes the people that surround you hurt you the most. In their desires to protect the people they work for, they do the dumbest things. Like writing emails telling people that closing lanes on the world's busiest bridge was actually planned. That it was no accident. All because they wanted to get even with a local mayor of a nationally insignificant place when he didn't jump on board with a re-election campaign. Simply said: first win the war before you punish the enemy. But the Christie intimates did the opposite. They couldn't wait for justice. They seemed to be racing toward the arms of the political man they love — hoping to get there first for the heaviest hug for doing the most damage to political enemies.
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The result? They lost their minds. In the age of digital vapor, where there are no secrets, what would make anyone believe for a minute, that there are secrets? Especially if you are a staffer, an advisor and then a deputy chief of staff to an early contender for the nation's highest office? How can people believe again in the incorruptibility of a man whose staff believes political punishment is permissible while asking for taxpayer dollars for a traffic control study and destroying irreplaceable moments of lives stuck in miserable traffic?
So Christie holds a press conference. Says he's no bully and seeks to be the victim which he really is but of his own well-intended and careless staff. It's not that he's no bully. It's that when you're a tough guy who believes harsh rhetoric and a bit of treason — such as helping the other party put one of their own in a vacant U.S. Senate seat or mugging for photos with the Democrat President while your party's nominee sucks wind — you earn no friends.
Maybe in places where they say don't send nobody that nobody sent, they might also say a man with no friends when in trouble is a man with no friends. That's why Christie is in trouble. He wants sympathy for not really being a bully. Tell that to the commuters whose day his staff wrecked because they thought purposefully creating traffic jams was a clever way to hurt political enemies. So is a sharp stick in the eye. And like the quest for power and revenge when joined together, they both make you blind.
— By Hank Sheinkopf
Hank Sheinkopf is a Democratic consultant who has worked for Bill Clinton, Eliot Spitzer and former New Jersey Gov. Jim McGreevey. Follow him on Twitter @sheinkopfltd.