It’s always interesting what seemingly minor event turns into a scandal that could derail a political career. A four-day traffic jam near the George Washington Bridge in New York was threatening the presumed campaign of New Jersey Governor Chris Christie for the Presidency. E-mails made public yesterday revealed that top Christie aides planned the traffic jams by closing lanes of traffic as political retribution against the Democratic Mayor of Fort Lee who refused to endorse Republican Christie’s reelection campaign last year. Christie, aside from twice being elected in a “blue” state, has achieved fame for his bluster and confrontational approach to dissenters. He also has earned the likely permanent disapprobation of Tea Partiers and other Republicans for literally hugging Barack Obama during the 2012 presidential campaign when the President visited storm-ravaged New Jersey.
Christie just completed a press conference lasting almost two hours at which he made a brief statement denying any knowledge of the planned traffic disruptions, expressing “embarrassment and humiliation,” and accepting responsibility as the state’s Governor. He also announced the termination of two officials who wrote the e-mails. And, he stood there for a remarkably long period of time answering the reporters’ questions. It was a unique performance in that he was neither evasive nor carefully parsing answers. He came across as both credible and – in stark contrast to prior Republican presidential candidates – articulate and knowledgeable. While the news media will undoubtedly flog this story endlessly until the next “red meat” event comes along, Christie’s performance was remarkable and convincing. If it turns out he was lying, my embarrassment will be exceeded considerably by his.