Somehow, the media and the entertainment industry have managed to convey the idea that politics is some kind of beguiling sport and that politicians – some of them anyway – deserve to be celebrities.
New Jersey Governor Chris Christie for instance.
Perhaps the scandal over that revenge bridge closing in New Jersey will open a few eyes. I have never bought the “straight shooter” image the press has given Christie. To me, he is nothing but a grotesquely obese show-off with the mind of a schoolyard bully and the manners of a guttersnipe.
What is most revealing about the bridge closing is the pettiness of the people involved. This kind of “revenge” is more like the antics of the Three Stooges than the horrors of a mob war.
So you don’t support my candidacy for governor? Then I’ll create a traffic jam in your town. So there!
Doesn’t that remind you of something kids might get up to in a high school vendetta?
But it’s how politicians – Republicans especially – operate. They play tricks on each other, tricks big and small, tricks that cause great harm to the country and great suffering among real people.
Refusing to raise the nation’s debt limit, for example.
That showed Obama!
So America’s credit rating takes a hit, raising borrowing costs, adding to the deficit and triggering widespread financial hardship. So what? It’s all in the game.
And what about shutting down the government? Sure, it disrupted lives and caused distress to thousands of unoffending families. But it was a poke in the President’s eye. Can’t you just picture the mischief makers giggling over that one?
It’s the kind of puerile wickedness that prompts the deliberate sabotage of the economy, the vicious attacks on health care reform, the refusal to allow extension of unemployment benefits, the relentless concoction of false rumors …
All across America, Republican controlled legislatures are playing tricks with such dangerous things as voter suppression laws, slyly rigging the system to disenfranchise citizens who usually support Democratic candidates. Is that clever or what?
About as clever as the Christie aides who caused a traffic jam in Fort Lee to punish Mayor Mark Sokolich for refusing to back the New Jersey governor’s reelection bid.
I hope the American public is getting as tired of these tricks as I am. I hope they don’t think this kind of thing is funny or clever.
I hope they’ll send Chris Christie a message. And repeat the message – in spades – at the ballot box in November.