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Straightforward? Not The Best Description Of Chris Christie — Or His Pal Karl Rove

Memo Pad

Straightforward? Not The Best Description Of Chris Christie — Or His Pal Karl Rove


When Karl Rove praises a politician’s “straightforward” approach to an erupting scandal, it seems wise to expect that something very twisted will instead emerge in due course – and to consider his real objectives.

In this instance, the former Bush White House political boss – and current Republican SuperPAC godfather – was discussing Chris Christie’s response to “Bridgegate,” as the events surrounding the vengeful closure of part of the George Washington Bridge by the New Jersey governor’s aides is now known.

Appearing on Fox News Sunday, Rove said that Christie “did himself a lot of good” during the famous two-hour press conference on the scandal, when he sorrowfully announced the firing of a deputy chief of staff and a top state party official, for “lying” to him about the bridge affair.

“I think his handling of this, being straightforward, taking action — saying, ‘I’m responsible’ — firing the people probably gives him some street cred with some Tea Party Republicans, who say that’s what we want in a leader, somebody who steps up and takes responsibility,” said Rove. Pandering to the Fox audience, he went on to contrast the righteous Christie with Bill and Hillary Clinton as well as Barack Obama, and to note that the IRS and Benghazi “scandals” hadn’t gotten nearly enough attention compared with Bridgegate.

While Rove sticks a halo on the man his old boss Dubya used to call “Big Boy,” everyone else might want to wait for the documents and testimony forthcoming from investigations at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which operates the bridge, in both houses of the New Jersey legislature, in the Department of Justice and in the United States Senate.

Observers dazzled by Christie’s press conference performance should perhaps ask themselves how his top aides managed to pursue this scheme – evidently in revenge against the mayor of Fort Lee, the New Jersey commuter town so badly damaged by the closing of traffic lanes – under his nose.

They might ask why the governor continued to believe, as he says he did, that the controversial action resulted from a “traffic safety study” for almost a month after the Port Authority’s top executive and two other PA officials testified last December 9 that no such study ever existed.

They might further ask about the curious photograph published by the Wall Street Journal on January 14, showing Christie yukking it up in public with David Wildstein, the Port Authority official who ordered the lane closures at the behest of Bridget Anne Kelly, last September 11 — three days into the traffic crisis in Fort Lee.

Joe Conason

A highly experienced journalist, author and editor, Joe Conason is the editor-in-chief of The National Memo, founded in July 2011. He was formerly the executive editor of the New York Observer, where he wrote a popular political column for many years. His columns are distributed by Creators Syndicate and his reporting and writing have appeared in many publications around the world, including the New York Times, the Washington Post, The New Yorker, The New Republic, The Nation, and Harpers.

Since November 2006, he has served as editor of The Investigative Fund, a nonprofit journalism center, where he has assigned and edited dozens of award-winning articles and broadcasts. He is also the author of two New York Times bestselling books, The Hunting of the President (St. Martins Press, 2000) and Big Lies: The Right-Wing Propaganda Machine and How It Distorts the Truth (St. Martins Press, 2003).

Currently he is working on a new book about former President Bill Clinton's life and work since leaving the White House in 2001. He is a frequent guest on radio and television, including MSNBC's Morning Joe, and lives in New York City with his wife and two children.

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  1. disqus_ivSI3ByGmh January 16, 2014

    You know. This whole GWB fiasco would have probably faded away had not Karl Rove opened his piehole and proved beyond a shadow of a doubt why Dubya nicknamed him “Turd Blossom”.

  2. jmprint January 16, 2014

    I love watching Christi back paddle, and can hardly wait to see the end results of this fiasco. In Bengazi, Hillary Clinton was not directly associated with any miscommunications, but Christi has his hand all over this one. The Cock has turned into a chicken.

  3. Budjob January 16, 2014

    To everyone out there that work(ed) for a living,let me remind you of one very important reason for not trusting him,HE IS A REPUBLICAN!!!!

  4. Independent1 January 16, 2014

    “And they might then ask why Christie insisted — at the endless press conference where his candor so impressed Rove — that he has had “no contact with David Wildstein in a long time, a long time, well before the election.”

    Christie not only claimed he hadn’t seen Wildstein in quite some time, he also pretended he barely knew him. Yet the pictures that Rachel Maddow produced which showed Christie with Wildstein not only 3 days after the start of the traffic backups but also a couple months prior to the backups, make it quite clear that his two hour supposed apology was a classic charade to cover up is other lie, that he didn’t know about the traffic backups until he learned about his staff’s emails being made public.

    Here’s a link to Rachel Maddow outing Christie:


  5. Dominick Vila January 18, 2014

    I am no fan of the GOP, but going after Chris Christie is likely to backfire on us. I would love to see Christie battling the crop of Tea Party zealots that are likely to run for the presidency in 2016. He is a street fighter – apparently a bridge fighter as well 🙂 – and the main beneficiary of Christie fighting it out with the likes of Ted Cruz would be the Democratic party. By the way, I doubt establishment Republicans are too upset with the political problems Christie is facing. Christie committed sacrilege when he praised President Obama after Sandy, establishing a contrast with Bush reaction to Katrina and the ineptitude, greed and cynicism that prevailed in those days.

    1. FT66 January 18, 2014

      I beg to disagree with you. We are not going after Christie. We are putting on limelight what his subordinates and may be including himself did, was very dangerous and unacceptable to the people in New Jersey. Well, if the Tea Party will also play their part on him, that will be an added advantage.

    2. disqus_fsqeoY3FsG January 18, 2014

      Since he put himself on the National stage he is now getting scrutiny, which in the past the media did not do because they either liked him or were afraid of him. There are questions that need to be answered and there is no justification for putting people in harms way for 4 days.

  6. AlfredSonny January 18, 2014

    Will Rove sing the same tune had Christie been a Democrat?

    1. Michael Peterson January 18, 2014

      of course not!

  7. G26 January 18, 2014

    In this YouTube video we have a delusional Obama claiming that he will magically stop the oceans from rising: http://youtu.be/_AvqORJpKxU?t=5m2s

  8. cthetruth January 18, 2014

    I was stuck in that mess for three hours. No way to get out of the car to get water or go to the bathroom. Total gridlock! I find it unbelievable that the governor of a state would allow this to go on. It shows that he really does not give a damn about the people. I also do not believe that after three days no one notified him that there was a problem. This is a wolf in sheep’s clothing and if he decided to run for president , he would never get my vote. His behavior shows an arrogance and an immaturity that is dangerous. I was there and it is clear that he put people at risk! This is also not about being a Republican or a Democrat. It is about time we stop making excuses for bad behavior. We deserve better. This man does not deserve the Presidency. He does not even deserve his present job!

  9. Allan Richardson January 18, 2014

    Since Christie has lost the support of Bruce Springsteen, maybe he could get Simon and Garfunkel back together on his 2016 campaign, to sing his new campaign song, “Bridge over Troubled Waters.”

    Seriously, though, lying is not a sin to Republicans, it’s a PROFESSIONAL SKILL.

  10. howa4x January 18, 2014

    Living in NJ gives you a first row seat to the crisis since it’s in the state paper every day. I don’t think it was payback to the Ft lee mayor who was insignificant, but more like the Nixon syndrome. He Nixon was cruising to a landslide victory when part of his campaign descended into a B&E job. They did that as later testimony reveled because their boos was a natural paranoid that saw enemies out there and created a culture where an event like that could be justified. It wasn’t the break-in but the cover up that damaged his presidency
    Christie fired 2 of his top aides like Nixon did in the firing of Haldeman and Erlichmann creating distance. What keeps Christie involved even after an Oscar worthy performance is technology There is an electronic trail to follow. Where it leads will determine Christies viability as presidential material. Whether there is a smoking gun found or not reporters are already developing a narrative that this act would not have been done with out a culture of vengeance to birth it. Why did a trusted aide think this was ok to do? Just like the people who orchestrated the Watergate break in, they thought it was ok too.

  11. Chrysippus January 18, 2014

    There once was a rat named Karl,
    Who found himself in a snarl.
    He lauded a porker called “Christie,”
    And though his eyes got exceedingly misty,
    His knickers got ever more twisty,

  12. Chrysippus January 18, 2014

    …And that was the end of poor Karl.

  13. jimbo January 19, 2014

    republicans fall into two groups, those too stupid to understand the damage the right is doing to this country, and the lying pos like christiex and rove who responsible for the damage.

  14. Kurt CPI January 20, 2014

    Damage control at its finest. Christie is doomed.

  15. NavyBlue1962 January 22, 2014

    Wow,how the left-wing trash have turned on you Chris. You cozied up to them trying to win their love. Laughing it up on the NBC morning show. Kissing Obama’s butt every chance you got. Now they’re repaying you for their goddess,goat-ugly Hillary. A lesson too late in the learning. You’re finished-just as Bonehead Bohner and McConnell and McCain will be in a few months. But you can always get a job wiping tables at the next demo love-in.


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