Bridge and Tunnel People

One more post, this time about one of my favorite genres, before, really-truly I promise, my 2013 Top Ten List is done!

That genre is of course the political scandal. As I type I’m listening to Governor Chris Christie of my home state (impressively, I must say) talk his way out of “Bridge-gate” or whatever you call it: the now-confirmed fact that people in his inner circle created an unnecessary traffic jam in Fort Lee by closing lanes on the George Washington Bridge to retaliate against Fort Lee’s Democratic mayor for not endorsing Christie during his re-election last year.

Probably nobody’s loving it more than another Democratic mayor, Tony Mack of my hometown of Trenton, who’s relieved to be off the front page for a day while he goes to trial for much more salacious crimes.

Three things about Christie’s case:

1. It was totally unnecessary. Like Nixon, Christie was going to cruise to re-election, but that wasn’t good enough for his sick heart. He strikes me as someone who needs the world to know how much he’s suffering inside.

2. This is not someone you want in control of a nuclear arsenal. It’s a reflection of our collective civic idiocy that people are already discussing what this means for the 2016 election, but if that’s what it takes to keep this guys hands away from the buttons, so be it.

3. Most importantly, the symbolism of the bridge couldn’t be more poignant. My people, New Jerseyans, are so diffuse in our identities that spellcheck doesn’t even recognize the word “Jerseyan.” We are defined by our ability to get the hell out, or at least pass in and out of, our porous definitions. We’re Bridge and Tunnel people.

Before Hurricane Sandy, the defining issue of Christie’s first term was how he killed the most badly needed public works project the state had started working on in decades, building a second New Jersey Transit tunnel to make it faster to get in and out by train. (So when I visit my father tomorrow and sit on a deadly still train surrounded by the Meadowlands, I know who to curse.) Republicans by and large like to impoverish public transit and then say how bad it is. They love cars instead, and now the next defining issue is about a bridge. When the mayor of Fort Lee had the audacity to endorse someone from his own party, Christie’s people had to send in the cars.

What do you think?

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