Federal Probe Of Bridgegate Finds No Connection To Christie

A Federal investigation of lane closures on the George Washington Bridge appears to vindicate Governor Chris Christie.

Christie GWB

After nine months, the Federal investigation into the closing of lanes on the George Washington Bridge in the advance of last years Gubernatorial Election in New Jersey has failed to uncover any connection between the closing of the lanes and Governor Chris Christie:

The U.S. Justice Department investigation into Gov. Chris Christie’s role in the George Washington Bridge lane closure scandal has thus far uncovered no evidence indicating that he either knew in advance or directed the closure of traffic lanes on the span, federal officials tell NBC 4 New York.

The September 2013 closures — where several entrance lanes to the George Washington Bridge in Fort Lee were shut down, causing a traffic nightmare for commuters — has been the subject of several federal and state investigations.

Federal officials caution that the investigation that began nine months ago is ongoing and that no final determination has been made, but say that authorities haven’t uncovered anything that indicates that Christie knew in advance or ordered the closure of traffic lanes.

When the final report is issued, Christie may still face complications from the scandal, said Lee Miringoff, Director of the Marist Institute for Public Opinion.

“That’s good news for him,” Miringoff said. “The bad news remains that politically as chief executive it looks like he was not in control of his administration at the time when this occurred. So that remains the downside for him. That doesn’t go away but this panel provides greater credibility barring any further revelations coming out.”

Assemblyman John Wisniewski said the state legislative committee’s investigation into the bridge lane closures is continuing.

“This is not a Chris Christie investigation,” he said in a statement. “It’s an investigation as to why this happened and who authorized it. As a consequence, this does not change our position.”

It’s not clear when federal authorities will conclude their investigation or if criminal charges will be handed down to Christie’s aides. There are still other angles to the investigation, including how Port Authority funds were used. It is unclear where that part of the investigation might be going.

While the investigation has not concluded, the fact that Federal officials went out of their way to make a statement like this suggests that there likely won’t be any further inquiry regarding Christie’s role in this affair, and that the investigation at this point is focusing on his aides such as former Deputy Chief of Staff Bridget Ann Kelly and former political adviser Bill Stepian as well as David Wildstein, the former Port Authority appointee who apparently gave the order to close the lanes and communicated with Kelly and Stepian about those closings. More broadly, as I’ve noted before, it’s not entirely clear that there was any crime committed here. Closing down the lanes was dumb, and if it was motivated by politics that certainly makes it sleazy, but it’s not at all clear that there was any Federal or State law broken in all of this.

In any case, the significant news here is the fact that Governor Christie has, essentially, been cleared in the investigation. In some sense, this should serve as vindication for the Governor, who insisted emphatically in both his initial statement on the matter, and when he fired Kelly and Stepian several days later in January, that he was completely unaware of any plot to close the lanes and was unaware of his aide’s involvement until it was first made public earlier this year. In some sense then, this is a significant exoneration of Christie since it seems to corroborate everything that he’s been saying about this story from the beginning. We’ll have to wait for the release of any final report by the U.S. Attorney and the joint committee investigating the matter to know for sure, but it certainly seems as though Christie was telling the truth from the beginning.

Exoneration in an criminal investigation does not mean, of course, that Christie hasn’t paid a political price for all of this and that he won’t continue to pay one in the future. Coming as it did just a few months after his historically large re-election victory last November the scandal quickly deflated Christie’s sky-high job approval and favorability numbers and pushed him down in polling of the potential Republican candidates for President in 2016. For a brief time, there was even a discussion among some observers over whether or not Christie should continue as head of the Republican Governor’s Association heading into the midterm elections. Christie largely brushed off this criticism and moved forward as both Governor and head of the RGA and, to a large degree, the story has kind of died out everywhere outside of MSNBC, which seems to enjoy focusing on the story as much as Fox News Channel likes to focus on Benghazi. It’s true that Christie has fallen from the heights that he was at a year ago, but that fall was largely inevitable and the only question was whether it was going to come early or whether it would happen after he threw his hat in the ring if he chose to run for President. The fact that the fall from unsustainable heights happened sooner rather than later may end up being the best thing that could happen to Christie. In any case, as I noted in April, while Christie’s path to the Republican nomination remains as difficult as it was a year ago thanks to a party base that would seem to be antithetical to him on many issues they consider important, he is still a viable candidate for the nomination and, considering the fact that the GOP bench seems pretty sparse at the moment, he may be just what the GOP needs.

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Doug Mataconis
About Doug Mataconis
Doug holds a B.A. in Political Science from Rutgers University and J.D. from George Mason University School of Law. He joined the staff of OTB in May 2010 and contributed a staggering 16,483 posts before his retirement in January 2020.

Comments

  1. C. Clavin says:

    No connection between Cheney and the outing of Valerie Plame was found either.
    Funny how plausible deniability works, eh?

  2. superdestroyer says:

    I wonder how Rachel Maddow and the rest of the talking heads on MSNBC are going to handle this? They have been stating for months that Christie was about to be indicted.

  3. gVOR08 says:

    He’s still a lying sack of it who has repeatedly thrown his state under the bus to preserve his standing with the GOP base. So I don’t know that

    …he may be just what the GOP needs.

    , but he seems to be what they want. Now if he can get a federal investigation to say he’s not responsible for New Jersey’s disastrous finances he might have a chance.

  4. george says:

    @C. Clavin:

    No connection between Cheney and the outing of Valerie Plame was found either.
    Funny how plausible deniability works, eh?

    You’re not suggesting that the expectation should be to prove a negative? For instance, if someone accused you having invisible, untouchable unicorns in your back yard, it should be incumbent on you to prove you don’t?

    I’m not a fan of Christie, but finding no evidence is finding no evidence. Otherwise you end up in the same circus as the birthers who think the lack of evidence that Obama was born in Kenya (or wherever they currently think he was born) just shows that the evidence has been hide well.

  5. wr says:

    A viable candidate? If he indeed he didn’t know — or chose not to know — he ran an administration in which his top, extremely loyal aides felt it was approporiate to cause massive inconvenience to hundreds of thousands of citizens to exact revenge on a political opponent for not supporting him.

    That’s a viable candidate to you?

    That’s a viable candidate to a “libertarian” who constantly worries about the terrible toll of such government overreach as providing health care and food assistance to those in need? A man whose aides believe the proper role of government is to make the citizenry sufffer to please the whims of the ruler?

    Once again, the true face of libertarianism is revealed.

  6. beth says:

    I never thought he had any direct part in this. That would be politically stupid and Christie’s a smart politician. The fact that his closest staff felt they could do this, however, is troubling.

  7. JohnMcC says:

    Should the final and public findings be that the not-illegal scheme was hatched in the next office to the Governor’s I think the electoral consequences will be the same.

    @george: As you imply, the evidence says what the evidence says and nothing more. The doctrine of Respondeat Superior does not seem to apply in government and politics. Otherwise we would be referring to the impeachment of Pres Reagan for Irangate.

  8. C. Clavin says:

    @george:
    So you think that, even though his top staff was in fact directly involved, the chances of Christie being in any way involved without leaving fingerprints is tantamount to unicorns and Obama being born in Kenya?
    OK then.
    I think that, at minimum, Christie created an environment in his top level administration where these types of things happened…and then he threw his top level administration under the bus when they got caught. Textbook insulation of an executive…right out of the Cheney/Libby playbook. True, neither offense is a legal issue for Christie…nor are they a recommendation for the Office of President. (although Doug seems to be wetting himself)
    BTW…you can see and touch my unicorns anytime if you stop by my property.

  9. OzarkHillbilly says:

    In some sense then, this is a significant exoneration of Christie since it seems to corroborate everything that he’s been saying about this story from the beginning.

    I must have missed his admission that he is a horrible judge of character and that in the future all appointments he makes should be denied on the basis that he made them, and that he is also the worst manager of a large organization since Ken Lay.*** Only in the Republican Party can such rank incompetence be a favorable factor in one’s pursuit of the party nomination for President.

    ***I want to note that Ken Lay also insisted he was entirely innocent and seeing as he died while his conviction was under appeal, said conviction was vacated having the effect of him thereby being at least “not guilty”.

  10. OzarkHillbilly says:

    @C. Clavin:

    you can see and touch my unicorns anytime

    TMI….

  11. Mjolnie says:

    @C. Clavin: And yet, you exonerate Obama for the IRS scandal, Fast & Furious, the Benghazi lies, etc. Is it that you don’t hold Democrats to the same level of responsibility as Republicans? Why do you hold a governor to a higher standard than you hold the president?

  12. dazedandconfused says:

    Well, the wheels of justice roll very, very slowly, but in the single, narrow lane of truth, don’t they? Christie, as governor, had to remain oblivious to their slow travel, and by golly did he ever! Now he is free to pursue the Presidency of the United States and work on the gridlock in Washington.

  13. C. Clavin says:

    @Mjolnie:
    I don’t exonerate him…there have been dozens and dozens of hearing and investigations that have exonerated him. The difference is that there was no wrong-doing in any of the cases you list. Mistakes, sure. Intentional wrong-doing leading directly back to the offices immediately adjacent to the Oval Office? No. That’s a huge difference that renders your conspiracy theory analogies useless.

  14. Franklin says:

    @beth: Your thoughts on this are the same as mine.

  15. Rafer Janders says:

    Wonderful exoneration of Christie, the finding that he was an out-of-touch, disconnected chief executive who didn’t know what his closest aides were up to and let them run wild without any oversight.

    Christie ’16!

  16. gVOR08 says:

    @Mjolnie:

    you exonerate Obama for the IRS scandal, Fast & Furious, the Benghazi lies

    Believe it or not, the distinction is really pretty simple. Bridgegate started with an obvious culpable act on the table. Named individuals shut down the lanes. The questions are who told them to do it, and why? With the claptrap you list, you have yet to show there was any high level culpable act.

  17. gVOR08 says:

    @george: Presumption of innocence and burden of proof apply to the legal system. Voters get to decide Christie’s culpability based on gut feel, skimmed headlines, water cooler remarks, attack add sound bites, his height and physical appearance, tribal identity, and whatever else they use for all their other political decisions.

    May not be fair, but that’s the way it is. Didn’t your daddy ever tell you life’s not fair?

  18. Moosebreath says:

    @wr:

    “That’s a viable candidate to a “libertarian” who constantly worries about the terrible toll of such government overreach as providing health care and food assistance to those in need?”

    Once again, we see that for Doug (as for a majority of so-called libertarians), the main liberty they are concerned with is a reduction in their marginal tax rate. Any other abuse of governmental power can be traded off for it.

  19. SalVito says:

    i think the damage is already done. I thought he had little chance before this and now practically zero chance. The weight problem will continue to be an issue. to quote history of the world, “who wants to look like a big fat pig” I also think that the Romney folks found out some dirt on him when they were vetting him for VP that pretty much had them running. I would expect this info to surface should be run in 16

  20. gVOR08 says:

    @SalVito: I thought it smelled like it was Rove that found the skeleton in the closet, but yes, his consideration for VP did seem to evaporate quickly and with little explanation.

    You’re right. It’s totally unfair, but a lot of people are going to have trouble seeing Christie as presidential. They’ve invented television since William Howard Taft. Saw an insightful remark years ago that we don’t hire someone to do the job of president so much as we cast someone to play the role.

  21. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    Shorter leftist spin: “There’s no proof Christie was involved, and no proof that a crime was even committed, but he’s a Republican, so he’s obviously guilty and tainted goods.”

    Meanwhile, in Fast & Furious… yawn.

    The Benghazi coverup… yawn.

    The IRS scandal and the remarkable “coincidence” of e-mails suddenly being discovered “lost in hard drive crashes” the instant they’re subpoenaed and the IRS flagrantly violating the law on records retention… yawn.

    The completely bogus and purely political indictment of Rick Perry… yawn.

    The total collapse of the Wisconsin “John Doe” investigations that tried to criminalize Republican political organizing… yawn.

    I’m still amazed that Doug didn’t give wall-to-wall coverage of the “Palins in drunken brawl” nonsense. Pleasantly amazed, that is…

  22. James in Silverdale, WA says:

    The GOP primaries will make “bridgegate” seem like a (wait for it) tea party. Christie retains t he power to do the one thing the other GOP posers will have none of: the power to embarrass, and in public.

  23. Pinky says:

    @SalVito: I have trouble believing that Christie was ever a serious possibility for VP, so I see no reason to suppose a skeleton-in-the-closet story. Parsimony. Christie would have offered no advantages to Romney. He had the same resume, a short stint as a moderate northeastern governor. He wouldn’t have brought in any region, any movement, any bloc that wouldn’t have already been reasonably pro-Romney.

    If there’s a skeleton-in-the-closet story from 2012, my guess is it was David Petraeus. I thought he would have been a great addition to the ticket, and I had no idea why he wasn’t talked about. Considering what came out afterward, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Romney camp had considered him then found out about his affair.

  24. michael reynolds says:

    MSNBC overplayed this wildly. Unlike Fox they didn’t just make up their own facts, but their interpretations were too far out in front of them. At worst this was a governor of New Jersey playing some hardball, which would be just a huge shock. . . to absolutely no one.

    Christie is the second most dangerous potential GOP candidate behind Jeb Bush. Christies profits from being the antithesis of Barack Obama. Obama’s cool, Christie is hot; Obama is calculating, Christie is spontaneous; Obama’s elegant, Christie is a regular joe. He’s moderate by GOP standards so he’s not an impossibility for an independent voters, he’s good on the stump, he’ll attract money.

    No one should underestimate this guy,especially since he’s now been inoculated against accusations of corruption by the too-frenzied reaction to the bridge thing.

  25. humanoid.panda says:

    @Mjolnie:
    Benghazi: screw up, not a scandal by any measure.
    IRS: at the very worst, wrongdoing by people three or four levels removed from Obama (and according to all evidence, no actual wrongdoing).
    Fast and Furious: screw up by field officers of the DEA.
    I’d even add the VA a genuine scandal, in the sense that real wrongdoing was uncovered.

    The difference between all four and Christie is
    1. 1 has no wrongdoing, 2 most likely has no wrongdoing, 3 somewhere between bad idea and wrongdoing
    and more importantly
    2. There is zero evidence 3 and 4 were directed or covered up from anyone in the White House. Bridgegate was initiated by people from the Christie administration, even if he didn’t know about it.

    For better or worse, the standard for scandals in this country is that for a screwup, mishap, or whatever it is, it needs to include.
    1. Collusion that involves the staff of the elected executive in question
    and/or
    2. Coverup

    By these standards, there had been no “Obama scandals.”
    Are those standards fair? I don’t know, but given that in a modern society, government will always be complex and something will always go awry, its the only one we will have.

  26. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @humanoid.panda: Benghazi: screw up, not a scandal by any measure.

    You keep missing the point. The scandal isn’t what happened at Benghazi, it’s the rush to cover up what happened until after the election. It’s the full court press the Obama administration put out to push a bogus story and not admit that Muslim extremists had pulled off a very successful terrorist attack on 9/11.

    Similarly with the IRS: the original wrongdoing might have been several levels down from Obama, but the coverup afterwards goes much higher.

    And Fast & Furious. There has NEVER been a plausible story as to just what the intent of the plan was. There is nothing about the plan that makes any sense whatsoever. The plan, as put out, isn’t just incompetent. It’s so insanely ludicrous that the people who put it forward shouldn’t be able to tie their own shoes.

    Oh, also, in these cases, the VA, and several others: the first (and often only) people to be punished were the whistle blowers.

  27. humanoid.panda says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    Let’s go over this point by point, shall we?

    1. Most likely, Christie was not involved in the Bridgegate thing, but his closest aides initiated it. This is hardly exculpatory in political terms, isn’t it?
    2. Fast and Furious: how is it connected to the White House? Was it or wasn’t a Bush era initiative?
    3. Benghazi: THERE WAS NO COVERUP. ALL HOUSE INVESTIGATIONS AGREE ON THAT FACT. IF YOU ARGUE THAT THE INVESTIGATIONS ARE PART OF COVERUP, YOU ARE ARGUING THE GOP IS ON THE CONSPIRACY.
    4. There is significant evidence that the hard disk crash was not something that materialized from thin air, but something Lerner complained about at a time when it happened. The IRS not keeping records is outrrageous, but is it a scandal.
    5. Perry indictment. Denounced by nearly all liberal commentators I know of. Launched by Repubican prosecutors.
    6. John Doe. Nothing there ‘collapsed’. A Republican judged just ruled that whatever laws Wisconsin has on the books are unconstitutional, and therefore furhter investigation should stop. That, prima facie, concedes that Walker was vioilating those laws. A previous iteration of that investigation, btw, ended with several of his aides going to prison…
    7. Don’t you care about the state of the White family and White social pathologies as revealed in that brawl? Something tells me you wouldn’t consider this as just a stupid pointless issue if the Obama or Jackson or Shrapton family was involved…

  28. PD Shaw says:

    @Franklin: Your thoughts about Beth’s thoughts being like your thoughts are also my thoughts.

  29. humanoid.panda says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13: Seriously, dude, are you arguing that the public was not aware that Muslim extremists managed to conduct a succesful operation on 9/11. The only question is whether that operation was improvised or planned beforehand.

    That question was open then, and is still open now. More importantly, how is the ‘coverup’ a coverup? I mean, what you are arguing that the administration’s coverup included a concession that a ragtag band of Lybian militias managed to overrun embassy security, because it was faulty. What is the coverup here, except in the eyes of people who view deeep cosmic significance in the distinction between “acts of terror” and “terrorism.”
    Seriously, the administration f*d up on Benghazi. If you guys were a sane opposition party, you’d gather the political benefits, and maybe challenge the underlying policy. But because you aren’t you became convinced that this even is Rosetta Stone to Obama/Clinton being Manchurian candidates and/or a historical revenge for Watergate, so you just keep on making yourself look ridiculous.

    Same thing on the IRS: only proof of coverup is the Lerner emails disappearing. Now, not only that emails from her saved on other disks don’t show any wrongdoing, not only that Issa refuses to give Lerner immunity to finally get her on record, showing very clearly what he thinks on the coverup, there is contemporary evidence the crash was indeed a computer issue! Again, where is a shred of evidence for a coverup? Of course, what makes the coverup even less likely is the fact there was no underlying crime..

    Fast and Furious: here, again, the DEA seems to have to lost its way. Again, a normal opposition party would have investigated it, and gotten some lumps and so forth. It’s even possible that Holder indeed lied to Congress about it. But again, it seems that because you guys treat it as a Rosetta stone event, and care more about proving evil intent than uncovering incompetence, we simply don’t know what happened.

  30. humanoid.panda says:

    Just to reiterate: like every complex organization, the federal government under Obama, like every other president will do stupid things, and will do evil things, and will do illegal things, and will act incompetent things. Those things should be investigated and rooted out, and that is the exactly the job of the out party. The big difference between the standard way of doing things and the current ‘scandals’ is that the oppposition party treats every mishap that happens during Obama’s term as Rosetta stone, a building bloc of a the conspiracy it knows must be true. Under these circumstances, even when a possiiblity of wrongdoing exists, there is no way of knowing what is true or wrong about it (example: Issa not giving immunity to Lerner keeps the scandal in permanent half-dormant state..). That in a way, gets the administration off the hook, because what should have been a clear-cut investigation becomes a post-modern spectacle (Benghazi!).

    The VA scandal shows things can be otherwise: here, clear-cut evidence of wrong-doing was found. The investigation did not focus on Obama’s hatred of the American army due to his conneciton to Bill Ayers, but on who did what and when. As a result, the White House took a hit, the Secretary resigned, wrongdoers were fired and I hoped will be charged, and, most importantly, legislation to address the issue was passed and signed by Obama. Why do you think other cases of possible misconduct did not end up this way?

  31. gVOR08 says:

    @humanoid.panda: I agree completely. I admire your perseverance. I sometimes share a distaste for leaving nonsense unanswered. But good luck on convincing Jenos of anything but his courage in standing up to this liberal onslaught. Or was that SD?

  32. michael reynolds says:

    @humanoid.panda:

    Your analysis is correct IMO.

    It’s the great thing about Republicans: they’re so caught up in their little hate-spiral that they end up letting their enemies off the hook because they come off as lunatics.

  33. Steve V says:

    @humanoid.panda: Well said. I would add that the Bridgegate scandal originated in Christie’s own staff, while the various Obama “scandals” that are being thrown about originated at federal agencies at several removes from the White House, in some cases with people who weren’t Democrats. The federal government employs millions of people and there are always going to be screwups. With that said, I agree with those who have pretty much thought this scandal wasn’t a big deal.

  34. jukeboxgrad says:

    Jenos:

    The scandal isn’t what happened at Benghazi, it’s the rush to cover up what happened

    So they covered up the terrorist attack by repeatedly describing the terrorist attack as a terrorist attack? Within a week of the attack Obama made at least four statements where he described the Libya attack as terrorism. Link.

    Also, notice what Carney said on 9/20:

    It is, I think, self-evident that what happened in Benghazi was a terrorist attack

    And notice what Hillary said on 9/21:

    What happened in Benghazi was a terrorist attack

    And notice what Obama himself said on 9/18:

    Extremists and terrorists used this as an excuse to attack a variety of our embassies, including the consulate in Libya

    This is sufficient to prove that there was no plot to avoid calling it terrorism.

    By the way, the original CIA memo used the word “terror,” in any form, this many times: zero.

    Obama and Clinton blamed the video because the video was to blame. Link. They said both ‘video’ and ‘terrorism’ because both are true. The GOP narrative is based on the deeply stupid idea that only one of those things could possibly be true.

  35. anjin-san says:

    it’s the rush to cover up what happened until after the election.

    You bet. Now let’s talk about the cover up of the UFOs that landed on the White House lawn…

  36. humanoid.panda says:

    @gVOR08: Less perseverance and more avoidance of writing my damn dissertation.

  37. jukeboxgrad says:

    Doug:

    Federal Probe Of Bridgegate Finds No Connection To Christie

    Which doesn’t matter, because his behavior later is enough to prove that his story doesn’t add up. I explained this here a while back. Link.

  38. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @jukeboxgrad: Jukey, you’re so modest to link to yourself. But let’s look at those citations you made.

    Three unsourced quotations, lifted out of any context, that just talk about “terrorism” or “terrorists” or “terror.” You don’t actually cite enough context to show that Obama was talking specifically about Benghazi as being a pre-planned attack, instead of a spontaneous protest about a stupid YouTube video.

    Also, your links above start on September 18. The attack was on September 11. Susan Rice hit all five Sunday talk shows on September 16 and talked extensively about the video being to blame.

    You know what? Your quotes are so out of context, I’m going to check on a couple of them.

    Quote one:

    He also made clear that at this point, based on the information he has — and he is briefing the Hill on the most up-to-date intelligence — we have no information at this point that suggests that this was a significantly preplanned attack, but this was the result of opportunism, taking advantage of and exploiting what was happening as a result of reaction to the video that was found to be offensive.

    Here’s the third one:

    Obama was asked about the Benghazi attack on “The Late Show with David Letterman.” The president said, “Here’s what happened,” and began discussing the impact of the anti-Muslim video. He then said, “Extremists and terrorists used this as an excuse to attack a variety of our embassies, including the consulate in Libya.” He also said, “As offensive as this video was and, obviously, we’ve denounced it and the United States government had nothing to do with it. That’s never an excuse for violence.”

    So on September 18, Obama was linking the video to the Benghazi attack.

    You gave three quotes to back up the idea that the Obama administration wasn’t blaming a video for a pre-planned terrorist attack. And two of them, when restored to full context, show that they were blaming the video.

    Oh, and by the way, here’s the source I used, and I suspect you did, too.

  39. george says:

    @gVOR08:

    Presumption of innocence and burden of proof apply to the legal system. Voters get to decide Christie’s culpability based on gut feel, skimmed headlines, water cooler remarks, attack add sound bites, his height and physical appearance, tribal identity, and whatever else they use for all their other political decisions.

    Burden of proof (ie the one making the claim has to prove it true, rather than doubters having to prove it false) also applies in other systems like science and engineering, because its actually a very sound principle.

    Voters are indeed going to decide on Christie, and many will probably decide that in any case he ran a gov’t where this was allowed to happen, even if he wasn’t directly involved. Arguably that’s a big enough strike against him without evidence of direct involvement.

    Most of the supposition cases (here and against other politicians) come down to saying “I don’t like the guy or his party, so I’m going to assume the worst”. And in most cases its completely unnecessary, since what is shown by the evidence is by itself more than enough to disqualify the person (ie running an office that would let that happen). Making a lot of statements about the inherent untrustworthiness of the person generally just sounds biased, and is more likely to create sympathy among the undecided than anything else (people tend to dislike obvious bias about things they’re not biased about themselves).

    Personally I think the Democrats are (or should be) hoping Christie gets the Republican nomination – running against proven incompetence (again, letting that happen under his watch) is typically easier than running against suggested evil. As well, because he’s a moderate, the Republican primaries are going to tear him apart, since they’ll force him far to the right and attack his personality every step of the way.

  40. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @jukeboxgrad: You remind me of Media Matters. You’re totally focused on finding anything and everything to discredit the right, but never turn your scrutiny to possible misdeeds by the left. Have you EVER seen anything that might make the Obama administration look bad? Or do you just avert your eyes when things start heading that way, and instead look for another Republican to tear down?

  41. jukeboxgrad says:

    Jenos:

    Rice hit all five Sunday talk shows on September 16 and talked extensively about the video being to blame

    Rice blamed the video because the video was to blame. “The protests at the U.S. Embassy in Cairo” (words from the original CIA memo) is an obvious reference to the video, because those protests were undoubtedly about the video. Do you claim otherwise?

    You gave three quotes to back up the idea that the Obama administration wasn’t blaming a video

    Thank you for yet another perfect example of how the GOP narrative relies entirely on the fallacy of bifurcation. Link. Where did you get the wacky idea that ‘terrorist attack’ and ‘motivated by the video’ are mutually exclusive?

  42. humanoid.panda says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13: I’ll answer that one. Healhcare.gov was a terrible administrative fiasco, threatening to undermine the very basic logic of American liberalism. Obam had failed terribly on that one, and I think the Democrats in Senate should have been much more aggressive with the administration on that issue.

    Now, had you argued that the healthcare.gov fiasco was a result of a plot to sell Americans’ private information to the Chinese, I’d be forced to defend the administration, arguing there was no wrongdoing here, just incompetence.

    See how that works?

  43. Jenos Idanian #13 says:

    @humanoid.panda: Fair enough.

    But look at Fast & Furious. The cover story was that it was a “sting” to get the Mexican drug cartels. But at no point did the plan ever have a part where the Mexican drug cartels are busted and the guns recovered. The “plan” didn’t fail — it never existed.

    Here’s a crazy theory: the whole point of Fast & Furious was to increase the number of violent crimes committed by the Mexican drug cartels that could be linked to weapons from the US, in an effort to increase public support for gun control laws. The plan was to arrange for straw buyers to get guns in the US, even over the objections of the gun dealers who knew these were bad sales, then help the straw buyers pass the guns off to cartel representatives, who would then smuggle the guns across the border into Mexico — even if that meant arranging with the Border Patrol to allow the smugglers to go unchallenged. Further, to make sure it would work, no one would inform the Mexican government about the operation, because they most likely wouldn’t like the idea of the US government helping to arm the Mexican drug cartels.

    Yeah, crazy theory. Total conspiracy nuttery.

    But it fits the facts known about Fast & Furious better than the official story.

    Officially, there were no plans to recover the guns. There were no plans to track the guns once they crossed the border. And there was no informing of the Mexican government, which means that not only would there be no federales to track the guns south of the border, but no chance for the Mexican government to say “hey, that’s a really bad idea.”

    And so far, years after the fact, the only people punished were the whistle-blowers.

    On the other hand, Christie fired the people who were linked to the bridge mess, and didn’t go after those who brought it to light.

    In that context, Christie comes across a LOT better than Obama.

  44. C. Clavin says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13:

    Here’s a crazy theory: the whole point of Fast & Furious was to increase the number of violent crimes committed by the Mexican drug cartels that could be linked to weapons from the US, in an effort to increase public support for gun control laws.

    OK sure…as long as you aren’t getting into crazy friggin’ conspiracy theories or anything.

  45. gVOR08 says:

    @jukeboxgrad: As a general observation, not specific to anything on this thread, the importance of the video to conservatives puzzled me. Why is it so obvious to them that the video had nothing to do with it? That any mention of the video is an effort to distract attention from…, something? The only sense I can make of it is Lakoff’s conservative strict father framing, that we’re the daddy and those brown people are children. OK, daddy made a video about the funny things the children believe. It’s for their own good so they’ll learn their errors. In any case, we’re the daddy, if the children don’t like it, too bad. It couldn’t be the video, ’cause father’s within his rights to make the video. If they’re rebellious, it’s because they’re bad seed, not any fault of the father, and they must be punished.

    When you write it out like this, it sounds irrational, because it is. Which isn’t really an argument that it’s not, at a gut level, how they feel.

  46. gVOR08 says:

    @george: I think NJ finances are sufficient to sink him in any case. He has to make a case that his success as governor qualifies him for prez. An opponent will go straight to NJs deficit and credit downgrades.

  47. jukeboxgrad says:

    Jenos:

    There were no plans to track the guns once they crossed the border.

    Yet another bogus right-wing talking point that you happily regurgitate even though it’s bogus.

    Under Obama, GPS trackers were planted in guns. Issa himself admitted that this was done on at least certain occasions. And there are official documents indicating this was done. So much for the claim, repeated incessantly, that under Obama there was no effort to track guns.

    The common right-wing claim that Bush always tracked guns is also bogus. Under Bush there was only a partial attempt at tracking but it didn’t work. Link.

    And there was no informing of the Mexican government

    Which is just a continuation of what Bush did. Under Bush guns walked without the knowledge of the Mexican Government. Same link.

  48. jukeboxgrad says:

    Jenos:

    Christie fired the people who were linked to the bridge mess, and didn’t go after those who brought it to light

    He “fired the people who were linked to the bridge mess” only after months of covering for them. And “didn’t go after those who brought it to light” is false. For months he viciously mocked reporters and others who asked questions about the matter.

  49. jukeboxgrad says:

    gVOR08:

    It couldn’t be the video, ’cause father’s within his rights to make the video.

    This is a key point. Consider these two statements:

    A) Nakoula had the right to make the video.
    B) Making the video was wrong, and it contributed to the deaths of Stevens et al.

    Both A and B are true. But because Nakoula is anti-Muslim, conservatives identify with him, and the truth of B is simply too painful to accept.

    Conservatives have this weird tendency to embrace losers as heros. Nakoula, Zimmerman and Bundy are all peas in a pod.

  50. gVOR08 says:

    @jukeboxgrad: I seem to recall that under the terms of his parole, he wasn’t actually within his rights to make the video, or perhaps just not to use the internet to distribute it. He was jailed for parole violation (fairly blatant parole violation) and the Wingers all made out that he was being persecuted by Obama.

  51. jukeboxgrad says:

    I seem to recall that under the terms of his parole, he wasn’t actually within his rights to make the video

    You’re right, and thanks for the correction. It’s not exactly that he wasn’t allowed to make a video; it’s that he wasn’t allowed to use the internet or aliases, and he did both in the course of making the video.

    When I said he had the right to make the video, I meant just in the sense of free speech and the First Amendment. I should have been clearer about this.

    He was jailed for parole violation (fairly blatant parole violation)

    Yes, it was blatant. As National Review said (link):

    … if you’re a two-time felon who is out on parole and told not to use an alias in business dealings or use the Internet and then you lie to reporters at the AP and WSJ using your alias and admitting you used the Internet, then what do you think is going to happen?

    The GOP is tough on crime except when it’s not.

    BTW, it was probation, not parole, although the difference doesn’t mean much in this context.

  52. gVOR08 says:

    @jukeboxgrad: Thanks for the detail. I had forgotten more than the bare outline.

    And yes, @jukeboxgrad: a good take on it. Some people do seem to have difficulty resolving the dissonance between what they have a right to do: make a video insulting Muslims, open carry an AK into WalMart; and what they should do: refrain from either of those things.

  53. SalVito says:

    @gVOR08:

    I know I’m sick of looking at this obese clown with spit flying out of his mouth. Look, I know a lot of people have problems with weight, but I just look at this guy like a gluttonous pig. IT’s one thing to be poor and have few choices, but this guy is a Governor. He can get any meal he wants prepared. He could work out, but its obvious he doesn’t have any self control. He’s an insecure bully and thats someone i dont want representing this country.

  54. michael reynolds says:

    @SalVito:

    Yes, and Hillary could do something about her cankles, but none of that’s the point. We have to stop judging politicians by how they look or sound and judge them as job applicants for a very important job. And while we’re at it, let’s just get off the whole personal angle.

    Ike slept with a subordinate and chain-smoked. FDR was a cripple who concealed it, lied like a dog about the lead-up to WW2 and also slept around. Lincoln was ugly as hell and wouldn’t shut up with his backwoods stories, plus had a crazy wife. Washington and Jefferson were slave-owning hypocrites. All pretty good presidents.

    By contrast George W. Bush was a good-looking guy, a teetotaler, religious, disciplined about exercise and a complete, howling disaster.

    We’re not picking the f-ing prom queen, here, we’re choosing the single most powerful person on planet earth. We get to make that decision although it has a major impact all over the world. So can we please pay attention to what matters?

  55. humanoid.panda says:

    Seems our entire discussion is moot: http://www.app.com/story/news/local/new-jersey/2014/09/19/feds-say-gwb-scandal-investigation-continues/15892951/

    Doug, you might want to update your post…

  56. munchboxgrad says:

    Junkie. The attack in benghazi! Was never about a YouTube video it was about weapons being funneled to what is now the Islamic caliphite. The video was the cover story. Not bifurcation not Obama has spent the littlest because %of GDP! The protests were planned in advance as was the attack.

  57. Grewgills says:

    @munchboxgrad:
    Even if it was planned a year in advance, so what? Why would it matter?

  58. jukeboxgrad says:

    it was about weapons being funneled

    Citation needed.

    Not bifurcation not Obama has spent the littlest because %of GDP!

    Next time try English.

    The protests were planned in advance

    The Cairo protests were about the video.

    as was the attack

    The video was seen by millions on Egypt TV on 9/8/12. The attack had this much planning: three days or less.

  59. wr says:

    @michael reynolds: Corrupt or not — and of course he is — Christie’s economic stewardship of New Jersey has been a disaster. He claimed he couldn’t do things that help middle class people because he was the only one honest enough to fully fund the pension plans — and then he shortchanged the pension plans so he could cut taxes for the rich. He cancelled the tunnel to New York so he could steal the money for local transit projects — apparently illegally — again, so he didn’t have to spend tax money on them, which he could then return to his rich friends. The one thing he has been willing to spend tax money is refurbishing a giant, never opened shopping mall and Atlantic City casinos which are now bankrupt.

    I know that the rest of the Republican field is made of dim bulbs, but do you really think that not one of them has an aide capable of saying “hey, let’s follow the money”?

  60. wr says:

    @Jenos Idanian #13: “Here’s a crazy theory: the whole point of Fast & Furious was to increase the number of violent crimes committed by the Mexican drug cartels that could be linked to weapons from the US, in an effort to increase public support for gun control laws”

    That’s not a “crazy idea.” That’s you being deliberately and offensively stupid in yet another attempt to hijack a thread and make it all about you.

    What a rich and full life you must have.

  61. Ben Wolf says:

    @michael reynolds: No way a man that fat, wearing suits that cheap, becomes president.

    Too slovenly and ill-disciplined.

  62. Ben Wolf says:

    @michael reynolds: Presidents do not get to look any old way in the age of television. The paradigm has changed since FDR and appearance matters, particularly in a country so superficial as the U.S.

  63. John425 says:

    @gVOR08: Yet when the Justice Dept. is asked to investigate they either don’t or conveniently sit on the investigation for years. I hope an incoming Republican administration investigates Eric Holder for malfeasance.

  64. dazedandconfused says:

    That the guy who was in charge of that screwy crew is still considered a viable candidate says something about the current condition of our punditry and maybe the condition of American democracy. We see mostly who the media finds most entertaining, and so we must pick from among that group, I guess. Unhealthy at best.

  65. Moosebreath says:

    @gVOR08:

    “He has to make a case that his success as governor qualifies him for prez. An opponent will go straight to NJs deficit and credit downgrades.”

    And his decision to prop up the Revel casino (the one decided in its second bankruptcy to close down the casino) when the lenders pulled out. Gov. Christie lent the casino more than it is now likely to be sold for at auction.

    And his plan to deal with the pension crisis — have everyone else add to the pot, and then get a court to say the state doesn’t have the money to pay in what it promised, even while Christie vetoed an income tax increase limited to high-income earners. (Admittedly, this wouldn’t hurt him much in a Republican primary, but it’s deadly in the general).

  66. Moosebreath says:

    @michael reynolds:

    “Lincoln … wouldn’t shut up with his backwoods stories”

    Meh, they were usually pretty funny, and often were relevant to the point he was making.

  67. James Pearce says:

    @michael reynolds:

    No one should underestimate this guy,especially since he’s now been inoculated against accusations of corruption by the too-frenzied reaction to the bridge thing.

    Inoculated? I dunno. This might be the chicken pox of scandals that comes back as shingles. Every opponent from here out will mention it.

    But I agree he should not be underestimated. Since he probably won’t be inoculating us from another Clinton run, my hope is that he serves as a kind of more popular John Huntsman figure, a centrist yanking on the party’s leash. He doesn’t need to be president, but if he did that I would sure appreciate it.

  68. Just 'nutha' ig'rant cracker says:

    @humanoid.panda:

    IF YOU ARGUE THAT THE INVESTIGATIONS ARE PART OF COVERUP, YOU ARE ARGUING THE GOP IS ON THE CONSPIRACY.

    In the case of Jenos, that’s not a problem, it’s a feature. Jenos moves the goalposts and changes his opinions as the need arises.

    Hence, the “The scandal isn’t what happened at Benghazi,” tack away from the previous “four US citizens were killed while the administration sat on its hands” position.

  69. stonetools says:

    My take is that Doug is right: Christie has been exonerated-SO FAR. Things might change as the investigation continues. The problem for Christie is that Bridgegate reinforces the Governor A$$hole reputation Christie already has. This is a problem for Christie in Southern Republican primaries. Southern Republicans like their sociopaths polite and hypocritical, so he won’t do well down there , with his New Jersey Mafia don approach.
    The only reason Christie still even has a shot at the Presidential nomination is that his likely adversaries are such clowns ( Perry? Huckabee? Santorum?). In such company he definitely looks competitive.

  70. Kylopod says:

    @Pinky:

    He wouldn’t have brought in any region, any movement, any bloc that wouldn’t have already been reasonably pro-Romney.

    Flipping New Jersey, a state with 14 electoral votes, red would not have been insignificant. That’s more EVs than Virginia, and only slightly less than Ohio and North Carolina. I’m not sure putting him on the ticket actually would have flipped the state red–favorite-son effects are not inevitable, as both Romney and Ryan ended up demonstrating–but it would have been tempting. Christie wasn’t just the Congressman of a single district but the governor of the entire state, and unlike Romney in MA, he was the incumbent, and still highly popular.

  71. John D'Geek says:

    @Doug Mataconis:

    … and if it was motivated by politics that certainly makes it sleazy …

    You’re talking about New Jersey — the phrase “Sleazy Politics” is redundant.

  72. Eric Florack says:

    It comes down to this….

    If the regime thought Christie represnted a threat to the leftist agenda, the investigation would fall out differently.

  73. wr says:

    @Eric Florack: Since you are the only one who understands just how evil the Obama “regime” is, it’s a shocked they’ve let you live this long.

  74. Eric Florack says:

    @wr:
    So, its only Republicans who manipulate circumstances.
    Basically the same evil we saw Chubby accused of.
    Noted. With much laughter, but, noted.