Thursday, January 9, 2014

George Washington Bridge

There is only one bridge across the Hudson River from New Jersey into Manhattan, the mighty George Washington Bridge. There are a couple of tunnels also, but basically the only way you can cross while keeping your head above the water is the George Washington Bridge. I've crossed this bridge countless times, and pretty much every crossing is a thrill because of the magnificent views it provides of the river and the city skyline.

The idea of choking off the traffic on the George Washington Bridge, traffic that not only goes to every point in New England, but also most every point in the rest of the country as well, since the GWB sits at the crossroads of Interstate Route 80 which goes all the way to San Francisco, and I-95 which takes you to Miami--the idea of cutting back that massive flow of traffic just to punish the Mayor of Fort Lee, New Jersey, for of all things, refusing to endorse a candidate for governor from the opposing party--is beyond petty. It's patently ridiculous.

So the confirmation today that that actually happened is just astonishing. And Governor Christie's reaction only continued the parade of pettiness. He made sure to emphasize, twice, that he had no prior knowledge of the actions of his own staff in ordering the lane closures:
"What I've seen today for the first time is unacceptable. I am outraged and deeply saddened to learn that not only was I misled by a member of my staff, but this completely inappropriate and unsanctioned conduct was made without my knowledge."
Well, maybe Christie is outraged that this conduct supposedly took place without his knowledge, but he'll also be damn lucky if he can sustain the story that it happened without his knowledge. Because if he had knowledge, his political career would probably be finished. It might be anyway. Because even if Christie didn't have knowledge, he should at least be taking some responsibility.

It takes architecture as large and powerful as the George Washington Bridge to point out how puny some of our politicians stand in comparison. Governor Christie was supposed to be a bigger man. (I"m not talking about his physical size.) He was supposed to represent a no-nonsense approach to government above partisan politics. He was a shoo-in for re-election, and did not need to make every one of his political adversaries get in line. That he or his aides succumbed to the kind of hubris that demands total fealty from everyone is beyond disappointing. It makes you wonder if we'll find anyone big enough to serve as our next inspirational leader.

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