DN Editorial: Bridge toll

Posted: January 10, 2014

IN KEEPING with the fact that everything Gov. Chris Christie does is outsized, his mea culpa yesterday morning was a mea maxima culpa - in a televised newscast clocking in just shy of two hours in which he threw a top aide under the bus, then backed up and drove over her again . . . and again . . . and again.

He insisted that he was blindsided and knew nothing about the fact that a key member of his administration, Deputy Chief of Staff Bridget Kelly, played dirty with the mayor of Fort Lee, N.J., by closing down George Washington Bridge lanes, wreaking havoc on traffic for days. This was apparently payback for the Fort Lee mayor's refusal to endorse Christie for re-election.

We're betting that "Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee," the words in an email Kelly sent to a Christie appointee at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, are already emblazoned on a T-shirt being sold in Times Square.

It's hard to see how Christie can extricate himself from this disaster: He claims that he didn't know or sanction the closure of the lanes.

But if that's the case, it means that he is either a terrible manager and/or created a rogue administration that felt empowered to tamper with the world's most heavily trafficked vehicle bridge for a petty political vendetta.

The outrage is compounded by reports that among those inconvenienced by the closures were paramedics trying to attend to people in distress, including a 91-year-old woman who later died.

And, because the lane closures covered a period starting on Sept. 9, and included Sept. 11, we couldn't help remembering that the bridges and tunnels after the 9/11 Twin Towers attack were considered particularly vulnerable, leading to increased security.

If terrorists had somehow managed to exploit the bridge's vulnerability to the extent that the Christie administration did, we would already be sending missiles over the country of the culprits. As it stands, the timing for the Christie shenanigans couldn't have been more shockingly insensitive.

But the biggest irony to this whole mess is that Christie hails from the political party that warns about the danger of big government and yet committed one of the worst sins of heavy-handed abuse of government power since, well, the NSA spying revelations.

Which only means that political outrages aren't limited to any one party.

Sadly, there is no comfort to be found in that fact.

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