There is much hullabaloo at this moment about IP fave and current NJ Governor Chris Christie’s political plot to snarl traffic in an attempt to thumb his honker at the Democrats. Christie has acquired for himself a rather bad-boy reputation as an aggressive and plain talkin’ politician who sticks it to the media (bad media!) and opponents (bad opponents!) and teachers (bad – wait. What?). Christie’s intensity has endeared him to many on the right who like to use words like “strong” and “powerful” when describing the kind of take-no-prisoners leader they idealize. You know – the exact opposite of the wishy-washy equivocating liberal stuff they get from the Democrats.
But there’s always the other side of the coin, and while some may admire Christie’s force others have called him a bully. The kind of bully who yells at people and leaves them shaking in fear. Which is why the story about the GW Bridge feeds into the Christie narrative so well, and is such a compelling story to tell nationwide.
What could be seen as a regional spat went global because of Christie’s anointment as IP front runner for 2016. But it also landed solidly because many people already think Christie is a tyrant. Whether or not he knew that his underlings closed lanes of the George Washington Bridge as a political maneuver is almost beside the point, because people already believe he is capable of such scheming. The joke lands because we get it. Christie’s a bully. We got it.
Also, there is the question of what kind of office he is running. According to military experts (meaning: My husband) there is an Army expression called “Command Climate” which is loosely defined as the environment established by a leader. In other words: The example set by a boss is important. If Christie’s command climate encouraged or even just allowed such machinating, that speaks loudly to his leadership and management style. And while voters like force, they don’t like intrigues, plotting, and manipulations done out of spite. Ask Richard Nixon – they’ll get you for that.
So this is why the GW Bridge story has legs and why it matters to the Invisible Primary. It will be interesting to see how Christie manages the story and what happens to his front-runner status which has already been codified by big press coverage. It will also be interesting to see how the new NY Mayor deals with all of this, how comedians make hay of the situation, and whether or not it will impact the polar vortex. Mittened fingers crossed that it helps warm things up outside the Christie household.