Did Christie (or his staff) intentionally cause the Fort Lee traffic jam?

It appears from some emails that some of Governor Christie’s staffers may have intentionally caused the Fort Lee traffic jam as political retribution. If so, it seems likely that Christie would have had knowledge. I’m on my phone so it’s difficult to post a quote, but here’s a link.

Rachel Maddow has been talking about this for quite a while now. Even before yesterday’s revelations, it was clear that something was out of kilter. The lanes were supposedly shut down because of a “traffic study”, but nobody can provide any evidence of the existence of any such study, despite multiple queries. (And who the hell runs a “traffic study” by shutting down access at Rush Hour over several consecutive days?)

The memos produced yesterday, if real, portray the staff at Christie’s office unequivocally and deliberately shutting down traffic for disruptive effect, and nary a word about Traffic Studies. They don’t prove that Christie knew or sanctioned this, nor do they tell you exactly why this was done. But the fact that it was done is bad enough.

The emails and texts are pretty damning, so I’d say certainly his staffers did indeed do this.

Christie is fervently denying all knowledge of any of it and appears to be terrified of this sticking to him and sinking his career. My current view is that he’s lying his ass off - even if he didn’t order this, he seems competent enough as governor not to be unaware of the freaking GWB, the busiest bridge in the world, getting reduced down to one lane of traffic with massive traffic problems resulting AND messages pouring in from Fort Lee for help. And frankly if he is so incompetent he missed all that, he needs to go anyway.

The local paper report, and copies of the e-mails



Stuff like this makes me wonder if some politicians have policies that their subordinates can’t use text messaging or social media, just to prevent there being a record of the scumbag stuff they did.

As far as Christie himself, I have a feeling he’s responsible in the same way Don Corleone is responsible for some rival getting whacked - indirectly. You know, the Don says “Antonio is quite the thorn in my side”, and then Luca Brasi later says “we should take some action to resolve the Antonio issue” and then some lower boss says “We’re gonna whack Antonio” and then the good actually whacks him. This way, Don, and maybe Luca, can claim “oops, not what we meant, our underlings were way off the reservation, too bad for the prosecution…” even if everyone knows what happened.

It will be interesting to see how well this sticks to Christie, or how well his party spins it. I have a feeling though, that a number of aides will fall on their swords, and Christie will come out relatively unharmed.

I think it’s beyond doubt that his staffers planned it, knowing full well what chaos would ensue and indeed rejoiced in it and were bummed out when it was brought to a stop. Like Watergate, the question is what did Christie know and when did he know it?

1- Did he conceive of the idea? Maybe. The only way this sticks would be if his aides turn on him, which they might if called on to testify.

2- If the aides did it as a rogue action, it shows he had inadequate control over his staff, perhaps the best outcome for him.

3- There’s the matter of ignoring the pleas from Fort Lee for relief. Did he know about the ruckus and willingly failed to act? We need to find out.

4- Did he know about the actions prior to the release of the emails? That may come out in testimony.

Personally, I think he was the mastermind behind the whole thing. It’s inconceivable to me that his staff would undertake such a thing on their own.

For me, the best outcome would be having the state prison order an orange jumpsuit, size XXXXXXXXXL.

Reading through those e-mails, they do indeed mention “traffic studies”, but not in any way that suggests that they are the cause of the debacle, or anything like “Taklked to Mr. X of NJ Roads. He’ll be shutting down 2 lanes on the GWB approach today”. Instead, it’s all vety abstract, and mixed with questions about whether the shutdown is punitive, and asking (after learning about the congestion) if “I should be smiling”. it’s hard to square this with a legitimate traffic study.

Barring a smoking gun I doubt Christie will go down for this, but I think the harm is already being done. If he knew, he’s toast; if he didn’t know, he should have. It will make any future run for President much harder for him, particular among those Democrats who might have given him serious consideration otherwise.

Hell, the republican base already hated him, if this costs him centrist support he is toast.

The study definitively confirmed that there was, indeed, traffic over the GWB. That issue being firmly and clearly resolved, the basis for further research has been established.

While the media is certainly going all out to convict Christie, I have to wonder if the voters in New Jersy wouldn’t re-elect him as Govenor in spite of it all.

Splendid idea! I propose that Christie organizes an effort to recall himself and force another election. If he’s so bulletproof, this would give him the perfect opportunity to show how popular he is.

The staffers certainly did. It’ll probably be hard to prove Christie did, but that’ll be investigated. You’d be within your rights to feel that someone who runs an administration that behaves this way is unfit for elective office.

Until he starts selling judgeships and senator appointments, he is small potatoes compared to our wunnerful Illinois governors.

Quite frankly, I think this will amount to essentially nothing and it will be long forgotten when he starts up his presidential campaign. Sure, IF he conceived of it and had a direct hand in it, it will look bad, but even if that is the case, it would take his staffers turning on him. So it’s really a matter of what can be proved and what comes of that. Regardless, I think it’s fairly safe to assume that even if he did have a hand in it, his staff will take the fall, and it can’t be proved, so we might as well run with him not having a direct hand in it.

So, with that in mind, the idea that the governor should know about this sort of thing, is ridiculous. He’s the governor, chances are that he gets briefed on all sorts of things and, presuming he had no advanced knowledge, I’d expect him to get some sort of brief along the lines of the DoT doing a traffic study and it causing problems. Even if it IS the busiest bridge in the world, there’s so much more going on in the state that the governor has to keep an eye on that it’s ridiculous to expect him to be directly aware of any specific situation like that. That’s the whole point of him having a staff and delegating responsibility.

That said, this could be an indictment on how well he vets his staff and how close his oversight is on them. The thing is, though, pretty much every prominent politician ends up with staffers doing stupid things. Over the past several years Obama’s staff has done some silly things and considering just how large his administration is and how far removed many of those things were from him, I didn’t see them as all that damaging to him. This, I don’t really see as all that much different.
Also, I don’t have time to read all the e-mails and texts in depth, but I could see this, correctly or not, being spun as nothing more than it being taken out of contexts. From what I did see, there’s numerous references to a study by name and such. So, is it possible that all of the snarky responses that look nefarious in intent are just schadenfreude? Still not necessarily appropriate, but at the same time, they’re not being sent with the idea that they’ll be revealed to the public. As a comparable example, knowing I’m making engineering changes at work that will make other people unhappy, even if I really believe they’re the right change, I will often refer to making those sorts of changes in the context of the users and paint them in a similar light. Of course, I can’t be sure, since I haven’t read all of it, but it seems like this might be a possibility. Anyway, thoughts on that?

Didn’t I read somewhere that the jam delayed emergency services from reaching an elderly woman in trouble and delayed them again in getting her to a hospital? She later died. Not sure if the delays contributed to her death or she would have been toast anyway, but that can’t look good.


“Time for some Traffic Problems in Fort Lee”
“Presently we have four very busy traffic lanes merging into only one toll booth…it’s maddening”
“Is it wrong that I am smiling?”

“it will be a tough November for this little Serbian.”
“It’s fine. The mayor is an idiot, though…”
Sorry, it’s hard to try to explain that as schadenfreude and willful misinterpretation.

BBC is now showing a live press conference by Christie. He’s making the token firings.

That’s the problem for Christie right there. People can easily identify with the victim in this case (an average person waiting frantically for help to arrive) as well as the family of the missing four year old whose search was hampered by police being tasked to traffic problems. Like Romney and the 47% video, it reinforces an impression that Christie cares more about him and his cronies than he does about the citizens he’s supposed to be representing. After all, if he doesn’t care about the common people of New Jersey, why would he care about me?

Now, if there aren’t any more revelations or future incidents like this, it probably wouldn’t be more than a speed bump on the way to the nomination but, if he has any more gaffes or scandals, it could snowball to create a very unfavorable impression of him and damage the image that he’s a reasonable guy who works well with everyone. If that happens, I could see it causing a one or two percent drop in the polls due to people not liking him enough to get out and vote for him.