Yves here. I must confess I have not been paying much attention to the Chris Christie scandal, partly because it is on the periphery of this blog’s beat and in part because the reason it’s remained national news is that Christie was widely seen as a contender in the 2016 presidential election. Like Lambert, I find it painful to think much about 2016 now. And remember the seven dwarves of 1992? Viable candidates can emerge from crowded fields late in the game.
Even so, it’s been obvious that this story has gotten more media play than it seems to deserve and the Republicans are going to extreme lengths trying to preserve Christie as a national figure. Gaius’s story gives a plausible explanation as to why that’s taking place.
By Gaius Publius, a professional writer living on the West Coast of the United States and contributing editor at AmericaBlog. Follow him on Twitter @Gaius_Publius and Facebook. Cross posted from AmericaBlog
The Chris Christie story is becoming clearer and clearer.
I don’t mean the George Washington Bridge story, though thanks to people like Steve Kornacki and his MSNBC associates, that’s becoming clear as well.
I mean the story behind the story. Who’s sabotaging Chris Christie to force him out of office and off the national stage? And who’s supporting him in his bid for the power of the presidency?
About the latter — who’s supporting Christie’s White House ambitions — we have the invaluable Chris Hedges. Your bottom line — every mean SOB billionaire, from Wall Street to the Koch Bros, wants Christie in office. And every element of the “security and surveillance apparatus” — the NSA, the Pentagon, presumably the CIA- and FBI-aligned forces as well — also want him in power, at least as Hedges sees it.
I’ll give Hedges’ key point first, then a broader sampling of this interesting and readable article. Hedges, writing in Truthdig (my emphasis and paragraphing):
Christie is the caricature of a Third World despot. He has a vicious temper, a propensity to bully and belittle those weaker than himself, an insatiable thirst for revenge against real or perceived enemies, and little respect for the law and, as recent events have made clear, for the truth.
He is gripped by a bottomless hedonism that includes a demand for private jets, huge entourages, exclusive hotels and lavish meals.
Wall Street and the security and surveillance apparatus want a real son of a bitch in power, someone with the moral compass of Al Capone, in order to ruthlessly silence and crush those of us who are working to overthrow the corporate state. They have had enough of what they perceive to be Barack Obama’s softness. Christie fits the profile and he is drooling for the opportunity.
Activists, Democratic and Republican rivals for power, liberals, reformers and environmentalists will, if Christie becomes president, see the vast forces of the security state surge into overdrive to stymie and reverse reform, gut our tepid financial and environmental regulations, further enrich the corporate elite who are pillaging the country, and savagely shut down all dissent. The corporate state’s repression, now on the brink of totalitarianism, would with the help of Christie, his corporate backers and his tea party loyalists become a full-blown corporate fascism.
Several things to note here. First, working from the bottom of the quote up, reread the list of those who will feel the club if Christie wins big power. The vulnerability of “Republican rivals” makes Republican opposition to Christie make perfect sense. For other Republicans, a Christie win won’t be a Republican win — it will be a Christie win. And only that. And New Jersey Republicans especially have first-hand knowledge of the kind of vindictive threat he poses.
Second, notice the comment about Christie having the “moral compass of Al Capone,” and how lack of conscience makes him a perfect candidate for the conscienceless national spook state (my phrasing), Wall Street billionaires, and the industrial and corporate billionaire-elites like David Koch. They would unite their fists in one man — Chris Christie — and he would act crushingly in their behalf, at least according to Hedges. This is a stark portrait indeed. Ancient kings were like this man; bad ancient kings.
Finally, in the very first paragraph in the quote, Hedges mentions something I didn’t know but could have inferred — that Christie is “gripped by a bottomless hedonism that includes a demand for private jets, huge entourages, exclusive hotels and lavish meals.” Bottomless hedonism? We’re way past fat jokes and into ancient kings territory again. Emperor Nero comes to mind. If true, this is a whole different beast, this Christie.
About That “Bottomless Hedonism”
In case you think that Hedges’ hedonism comment is just a guess, here’s a little more from the article:
The Romney campaign, which reluctantly agreed to Christie’s incessant demands for private jets, ungainly entourages and expensive hotel rooms in return for campaign appearances by the governor in behalf of the GOP nominee, decided against selecting him as running mate because, as the authors write, Romney’s vetters were “stunned by the garish controversies lurking in the shadows of his record.”
A 2010 U.S. Department of Justice inspector general’s investigation of Christie’s spending patterns in the federal job he held before he became governor, the book [“Double Down: Game Change 2012”] notes, called Christie “the U.S. attorney who most often exceeded the government [travel expense] rate without adequate justification” and someone who offered “insufficient, inaccurate, or no justification” for stays at exclusive hotels such as the Four Seasons.
In addition, the inspector general’s report raised questions among Romney’s vetters about “Christie’s relationship with a top female deputy who accompanied him on many trips,” the book [“Double Down: Game Change 2012”] said.
I dare you to think Emperor Nero when reading these three quotes. Remember, Hedges was a first-rate mainstream reporter before he exited the mainstream. He’s still a first-rate reporter. Do you think this depiction is wrong?
Who Wants Christie in the White House?
I won’t quote too much more of the article — but you can see I think it’s a must-read. I will give you a list, however, gleaned from the article. These people are named by Hedges as backing Gov. Christie’s 2016 bid strongly and promising “massive financial backing”:
The Koch brothers
Kenneth C. Griffin
Daniel S. Loeb
Paul E. Singer
Paul Tudor Jones II
David Tepper, all hedge fund kings
Stephen A. Schwarzman
Richard Grasso (ex-NYSE)
Maurice “Hank” Greenberg (ex-AIG)
John J. Mack (ex-Morgan Stanley)
Jack Welch (ex-GE)
Kenneth Langone (Home Depot)
I’m sure the list doesn’t end there. Your take-away: Everyone with big money loves this big man. It seems none of the billionaires can resist what he offers. He’s a perfect front man for the people to whom people are things.
Wall Street, Revenge, Retribution & a Fawning Entourage
For more on Christie’s relationship with Wall Street, usually a Democratic Party source of funding, read the paragraph that starts “There was the fact that Christie worked as a lobbyist on behalf of the Securities Industry Association”. As Hedges said at the start of the piece, they want him bad.
For more on Christie’s love of revenge and retribution, start reading at “Christie’s large public entourage always includes a videographer”. It’s an ugly couple of paragraphs. Really, governor? 600 YouTubes of Christie squeezing the smalls, uploaded by Team Christie itself?
On that last note, Hedges points us to a video hosted at TMZ of Christie getting in-your-face with a teacher-friendly heckler on a warm Sunday in Jersey. From the transcript:
Gov. Christie (R-NJ) was hangin’ with his family in Seaside Heights … and had just ordered an ice cream cone when a passerby fired off some snide comments about Christie’s policy on education.
Christie got PISSED — and while clutching his cone, shouted back at the guy, “You’re a real big shot … you’re a real big shot shootin’ your mouth off.”
The man shouted back, “Nah, just take care of the teachers!”
The comment only inflamed Christie … who aggressively marched towards the guy and warned, “Keep walkin’ away … really good … keep walkin’.”
Just a Chris Chistie Sunday with the family.
Christie May be the Most Dangerous Man in Politics Today
I normally rail against the MSNBC evening hosts and their policy of “Eww Republicans, All The Time” pattern of reporting, especially when Obama’s evil deeds hang in the air like fruit. But in this case, if Hedges is right — if Christie indeed has “the moral compass of Al Capone” — they may be doing god’s work in helping take this man down.
If they succeed, I say, Amen to that. (And then want to ask, What made MSNBC’s owners decide not to join the Christie love feast? All of their friends are in it.)