Three thoughts on Bridgegate

Governor Cuomo should make clear exactly what contact he had with Chris Christie over the GW Bridge closure.

Governor Cuomo should make clear exactly what contact he had with Chris Christie over the GW Bridge closure.

For politicians, weeks don’t get any worse than the one just endured by New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.

There’s an old (and, yes, crass) saying that some elected officials are so popular that it would take a scandal involving a live boy or a dead girl to endanger their fortunes.

For Governor Christie, all it took was the closure of three lanes on the George Washington Bridge.

Shows you that for East Coast commuters, a good solid traffic controversy even trumps a sex scandal.

As the Republican tries to fight his way out of a very dodgy corner, here are three thoughts about the broader meaning of Bridgegate.

1.  Meanness just doesn’t play well.  People have tried to compare Bridgegate to the awful roll-out of Obamacare.  But Obamacare was a very real effort – some would argue misguided — to extend health care coverage to millions of Americans.  The shenanigans surrounding the GW bridge?  That was apparently just good old fashioned nasty machine politics at its worst.  Motive really does matter when it comes to public perception.

2.  Every politician needs a BS detector.  I’ve written this before and it’s more true now than ever before.  Every politician in America needs someone on their staff whose sole job is to call foul balls.  Otherwise, the fishtank reality of power and government drag even the best administrations into the muck.  People start to cut corners.  They start to feel entitled.  They start to feel like the power and money entrusted to them by voters is actually, you know, theirs.

In this case, Christie’s top staff members allegedly started playing the fool at a time when their boss was looking untouchable in a walk-away election.  This was, in the parlance of politics, an unforced error.

Imagine if his team had employed an internal ombudsman charged with calling BS on this whole scheme?  If I were a powerful guy (or gal) I’d go hire a feisty, unapologetic truth-teller tomorrow and I’d give them an office right next to mine.

3.  Finally, and this is a big one, we need to hear very clearly and directly from Andrew Cuomo.  The Wall Street Journal has reported that Chris Christie reached out to New York’s governor as this scandal was beginning to unfold.

A member of Cuomo’s staff has denied this happened.  Cuomo needs to put this to bed immediately and finally with a public statement, also taking questions about what he knew, who he talked to, and when — and any actions he took, if any.

It looks like there’s plenty of mud here to go around.

If Cuomo is truly watching all the whole mess unfold, safe and clean from his vantage point on the Washington Heights side of the Hudson River, this would be a good time to make that crystal clear.

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62 Comments on “Three thoughts on Bridgegate”

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  1. The lead story of NPR’s bottom of the hour news round up was about Benghazi. If “the media” is trying to hide this, they’re doing a pretty poor job.

  2. Paul says:

    “And of course JDM is either unaware of or simply dismisses out of hand the report by David Kirkpatrick, the New York Times’s Cairo bureau chief that found no evidence that Al Qaeda or another international terrorist group had any role in the assault, as Republicans have insisted without proof for more than a year. The report concluded that the attack was led by fighters who had benefited directly from NATO’s air power and other support during the uprising against Col. Muammar el-Qaddafi and that it was fueled, in large part, by anger at an American-made video denigrating Islam”

    I too am tired of talking about this but it seems that this report in the Times runs contrary to the reports at the Washington Post and now to the report out of the Senate?:

    Since there was no evidence of any protest how do they link this to the video? I thought that even the administrations say that is hooey?

    Also if this story is correct and this guy is behind it how can we conclude there was no link to Al Qaeda?

    “They include one of the suspected ringleaders of the attack, Ahmed Abu Khattala, a militia leader with ties to ­al-Qaeda,­ said several U.S officials, speaking on the condition of anonymity because they were not authorized to discuss the case publicly.”

    What it looks like is that Mrs. Clinton holds the ultimate responsibility for not doing more and preventing the attack and the deaths that came with it.

    I agree there is plenty of coverage of this topic and I suspect there will be more.

  3. The Original Larry says:

    Clinton, as Secretary of State, is responsible for the lapse in security and ultimately, for the deaths that occurred. There’s a big difference between that and sleazy local politics.

  4. Walker says:

    “They include one of the suspected ringleaders of the attack, Ahmed Abu Khattala, a militia leader with ties to ­al-Qaeda.”

    If one of the leaders had ties to al-Qaeda, you’re a long, long way from being able to call in an attack by al Qaeda.

  5. Walker says:

    No to mention that the one leader with ties is only a suspected ringleader.

    (And of course I meant “able to call it an attack”, not “call in an attack”.)

  6. Walker says:

    January 22, 2002. Calcutta, India. Gunmen associated with Harkat-ul-Jihad al-Islami attack the U.S. Consulate. Five people are killed.

    June 14, 2002. Karachi, Pakistan. Suicide bomber connected with al Qaeda attacks the U.S. Consulate, killing 12 and injuring 51.

    February 28, 2003. Islamabad, Pakistan. Several gunmen fire upon the U.S. Embassy. Two people are killed.

    May 12, 2003. Riyadh, Saudi Arabia. Armed al Qaeda terrorists storm the diplomatic compound, killing 36 people including nine Americans. The assailants committed suicide by detonating a truck bomb.

    July 30, 2004. Tashkent, Uzbekistan. A suicide bomber from the Islamic Movement of Uzbekistan attacks the U.S. Embassy, killing two people.

    December 6, 2004. Jeddah, Saudi Arabia. Al Qaeda terrorists storm the U.S. Consulate and occupy the perimeter wall. Nine people are killed.

    March 2, 2006. Karachi, Pakistan again. Suicide bomber attacks the U.S. Consulate killing four people, including U.S. diplomat David Foy who was directly targeted by the attackers.

    September 12, 2006. Damascus, Syria. Four armed gunmen shouting “Allahu akbar” storm the U.S. Embassy using grenades, automatic weapons, a car bomb and a truck bomb. Four people are killed, 13 are wounded.

    March 18, 2008. Sana’a, Yemen. Members of the al-Qaeda-linked Islamic Jihad of Yemen fire a mortar at the U.S. Embassy. The shot misses the embassy, but hits nearby school killing two.

    July 9, 2008. Istanbul, Turkey. Four armed terrorists attack the U.S. Consulate. Six people are killed.

    September 17, 2008. Sana’a, Yemen. Terrorists dressed as military officials attack the U.S. Embassy with an arsenal of weapons including RPGs and detonate two car bombs. Sixteen people are killed, including an American student and her husband (they had been married for three weeks when the attack occurred). This is the second attack on this embassy in seven months.

    Funny, I must have missed the firestorm of conservative outrage over these attacks.

  7. Knuckleheadedliberal says:

    Did everyone catch the interview on Fresh Air today about Roger Ailes?

    Why a Benghazi such a big issue? Ask Roger.

  8. Paul says:

    The kooky left and right wing news was hilarious last night. It was a little like this discussion. All Bridgegate on the left and all Bengazi on the right.

    Walker, I too am glad to see conservatives finally taking notice of these types of attacks. Maybe it took the killing of a US ambassador to wake them up!

    John McCain made a good point. On Bridgegate where people COULD have been killed there have been people fired and on Bengazi where people were killed no one has been held accountable. Now that it has been shown that it could have been prevented maybe something will happen?

    But it has only been a year and a half so we should be patient.

    I looked the Riyadh bombing that Walker listed below since it was one with 9 Americans killed (although it was not anything like an embassy). Less than one month after the attack they had said who was responsible and in less than another month they had killed several of the perpetrators. Others have been killed since. If action is taken then why would conservatives or anyone feel the need to protest like with Bengazi?

    From Wikipedia:

    The then US President George W. Bush was informed of the attacks while on a national trip, and called them “ruthless murder”.[4] Saudi Crown Prince Abdullah condemned the attacks as the work of “monsters” and vowed to destroy the terrorist group that ordered them. After the attacks, Saudi Arabia began a harsh crackdown on the insurgency, arresting more than 600 terrorist suspects and seizing bomb-making materials, bomb belts, and thousands of weapons.[5]

    On 7 June 2003, an official Saudi statement[6] identified twelve men as the perpetrators of this attack. According to that statement, the identification was based on DNA found at the scene. The names were Al-Qaeda member Khaled Muhammad bin Muslim Al-Arawi Al-Juhani, Muhammed Othman Abdullah Al-Walidi Al-Shehri, Hani Saeed Ahmad Al Abdul-Karim Al-Ghamdi, Jubran Ali Ahmad Hakami Khabrani, Khaled bin Ibrahim Mahmoud, Mehmas bin Muhammed Mehmas Al-Hawashleh Al-Dosari, Muhammed bin Shadhaf Ali Al-Mahzoum Al-Shehri, Hazem Muhammed Saeed Kashmiri, Majed Abdullah Sa’ad bin Okail, Bandar bin Abdul-Rahman Menawer Al-Rahimi Al-Mutairi, Abdul-Karim Muhammed Jubran Yazji, and Abdullah Farres bin Jufain Al-Rahimi Al-Mutairi.

    Abdul Rahman Jabarah was killed in a gunfight with Saudi security forces, believed to have been involved in the attack, as was Zubayr Al-Rimi.

  9. Walker says:

    I think its safe to say that comparing the Riyadh and Benghazi attacks tells you more about the difference between Saudi Arabia and Libya than it does about the differences between the Bush and Obama administrations. Other than promptly calling them “ruthless murder,” what did Bush do? Looks like the Saudis took all the action.

  10. Knuckleheadedliberal says:

    Paul, there is a real difference between the so-called Bridgegate thing and the Benghazi incident. The GW bridge is in the US, the Benghazi attack occurred in what had been only weeks before a war zone and was recognized by everyone as a dangerous place. We have many American citizens working every single day in places that are very dangerous and it is impossible to prevent every single death. There is a reason people get danger pay.

  11. The Original Larry says:

    Oh, so the world is a dangerous place now, is it? The real difference is that Christie is nominally a conservative and the liberals who post here will not let anything, even dead bodies, stick to Hillary Clinton, their Chosen One. She never was much worried about the body count anyway and I guess nobody else is, either.

  12. Of course Emperor Andrew has the same arrogance problem as Christie. It makes you wonder when Cuomo’s Bridgegate will explode.

    Just last Friday, Cuomo told the public broadcasting show Capital Pressroom of conservative Republicans, “Who are they? Right to life, pro-assault weapons, anti-gay — if that’s who they are, they have no place in the state of New York because that’s not who New Yorkers are.”

    Readers of this blog know that I am as harshly critical as anybody of right-wingers and their extreme positions. But to suggest they should be purged* from the state is quite despicable.

    (*-I’m not suggesting Cuomo would actually engage in the sort of purge that Putin is stirring up in Russia or Jonathan in Nigeria. But when you say they have ‘no place in the state,’ it is just vague enough that some might come to reckless conclusions)

    After imperious comments like this, I don’t think anyone can criticize my use of the word ‘emperor’ to describe him.

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