alec macgillis

Caveat Emperor

The end was contained in the beginning. 
― George Orwell, 1984

If you are at all interested in the high drama currently playing out around the Governor of New Jersey – and you should be – this extraordinary piece by Alec MacGillis in The New Republic is absolutely essential reading.

You see, New Jersey is different from your state and mine. Its entire political system – from small-town mayor to county executive to state and federal offices – is a finely tuned instrument of graft which is at the service of the governor and his cronies.

Chris Christie’s entire career – from twice-failed candidate for local office to ambulance-chasing lawyer to US Attorney to governor to prohibitive favorite as GOP nominee in 2016 – has reflected his journey from kneeling at the feet of New Jersey’s power brokers to becoming the ultimate political boss.

The 2013 elections in New Jersey only become understandable when viewed through the lens of this article. Christie’s only qualification for the US Attorney’s job was his profligate fundraising for George W. Bush. The only reason he was actually confirmed for that powerful office is that then Senator Bob Torricelli knew he was in the crosshairs of an investigation, and needed a well-positioned ally. Once installed as US Attorney, Christie had no shortage of corrupt politicos to prosecute. He mostly went after the Dems, but hit enough Republicans to give his ethical crusades a “bipartisan” flavor. The Democrats he left standing became vastly more powerful, loyal to Christie – and he to them. That explains how Christie won re-election by 22 points while Trenton did not gain a single Republican seat. And why the “Democratic” machine in Jersey barely even noticed that Barbara Buono was its candidate for governor.

Christie’s genius is that he has played this game for so long and so effectively, all the while convincing the press and the voters that he is really a crusader against corruption, the savior of New Jersey. In Chris-Christie-Time-Magazine-224x300reality, Chris Christie isn’t Tony Soprano. No, Chris Christie eats the Sopranos for lunch.

And the arrogant abuse of power that we have come to know as #bridgegate really is only the beginning. Or the beginning of the end for Mr Christie. I haven’t seen a piece of investigative journalism like this in a long time, and I urge you to read it. Because whatever becomes of the investigations surrounding Bridgegate and the misappropriation of Sandy relief aid, I believe Alec MacGillis has already answered the most important question: Why won’t Chris Christie be the nation’s 45th president?

The New Republic: Chris Christie’s Rise and Fall