The Enid News and Eagle, Enid, OK


January 9, 2014

Christie’s presidential hopes: A bridge too far?

ENID, Okla. — Why should those of us in Oklahoma care about a traffic snarl in New Jersey?

That is the question many are asking in the wake of revelations surfacing this week that an aide to New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie deliberately orchestrated traffic jams on one of the busiest roads leading to New York City simply to punish a Christie political rival.

The outspoken Christie at first denied any member of his staff was involved in the incident, but on Thursday, changed his story and apologized.

Period, end of story, right? Hardly.

First, let’s put this act in perspective. In August, Bridget Anne Kelly, Christie’s deputy chief of staff, sent a message to David Wildstein, a top Christie appointee on the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey.

“Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee,” Kelly wrote. It seems the mayor of Fort Lee, Mark Sokolich, refused to endorse Christie in his run for re-election last fall. “Got it,” Wildstein replied.

In early September, two of three lanes that link Fort Lee to the George Washington Bridge were closed, causing miles-long traffic jams. Not only was Sokolich not informed of the closure, but he couldn’t get any answers out of the Port Authority. The closure lasted a week, perhaps not coincidentally, the first week of school in that area.

In the wake of the closures, the Port Authority issued a statement that it was conducting a traffic study. Wildstein, who supposedly ordered the traffic study,  refused to testify Thursday before a state legislative committee investigating the incident.

It is estimated some 276,000 vehicles cross the George Washington Bridge every day. In comparison, the I-40 crosstown in Oklahoma City carries an estimated 173,000 vehicles daily. So imagine narrowing the I-40 and I-35 junction to one lane in all four directions. The Fort Lee traffic jams were worse, turning a 30-minute trip into an ordeal lasting up to four hours.

The lane closures not only delayed commuters, but school buses and emergency vehicles, as well. A report has surfaced that a 91-year-old woman lay unconscious as an ambulance tried to reach her during the traffic jam. It took the ambulance seven minutes to reach the woman, double its normal response time. The woman later died in the hospital.

But again, why should we care about all those people who are crazy enough to drive in New York and northern New Jersey?

Christie not only is a dynamic and popular governor, he is a rising star in the Republican party, with eyes on running for president in 2016.

He has billed himself as a different kind of Republican, one that is not only tough and plain-spoken, but also one willing to reach across the aisle to work with political opponents to help get needed legislation passed.

But this latest revelation casts doubt on the climate Christie fostered in his inner political circle.

“I am not a bully,” Christie said Thursday. But a member of his staff clearly attempted to bully an elected official.

We in Oklahoma have seen gubernatorial bullying first-hand. Remember last fall when our own Gov. Mary Fallin warned public school teachers that continuing to publicly criticize the state’s controversial A-F grading system for schools might affect whether education received any additional funding next year. Fallin’s spokesman later denied she was trying to threaten teachers.

Christie has fired Kelly, of course, and on Thursday, called her actions “abject stupidity.” He says he knows nothing of what went on concerning the lane closure.

We can only take him at his word, but that raises the question of what else his minions are doing behind his back?

This whole, sorry mess casts doubts about his leadership ability and style.

It also brings back memories of another Republican presidential candidate, and his attempt to bully and burgle his way into office for a second term — Richard Nixon. We know how well that worked out.

Many Republicans nationwide already are cool to the prospects of a Christie candidacy, but he is an alternative to potential Tea Party candidates who is centrist enough to potentially draw some Democratic voters.

Chris Christie has become known as a politician interested in building bridges. Now he may become better known for blocking them, which could toss his hopes for the White House in 2016 right off a bridge.

Mullin is senior writer of the News & Eagle. Email him at

Text Only
  • New dorm

    Breaking ground on a new dormitory at Northern Oklahoma College Enid is another step in the evolution of the campus.

    July 20, 2014 1 Story

  • Jeff Mullin mug 2012.jpg Stars in our eyes

    We caught the vision when, in May of 1961, John F. Kennedy told Congress, and the world, that the space race was no longer to be so one-sided.
    “First, I believe that this nation should commit itself to achieving the goal, before this decade is out, of landing a man on the moon and returning him safely to the Earth,” he said.

    July 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • thumbs up logo.jpg Thumbs up for northwest Okla. communities, where net taxable sales figures are up

    Net taxable sales were up $1,917,774 in Enid, when compared to sales reported in July 2013. The increase amounted to a 2.6 percent increase in sales tax revenue for the city.

    July 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • Patsy Sorrels.tiff The key to God’s storehouse is in the giving

    Point being, there are a lot of hungry people out there who need to be fed the Bread of Life, and He needs to be served with a smile and a discerning heart.

    July 19, 2014 1 Photo

  • David Christy col. use clip.jpg Water, water everywhere?

    As Americans, we have taken water for granted far, far too long. We assume it will always be there, when we turn on the tap.

    July 18, 2014 1 Photo

  • Sheriff’s office, emergency management get new home

    The sheriff’s office and emergency management office will move in October or November to the former Grady Robbins Army Reserve Center on Oxford. The building has been unused since 2011 when the Armed Forces Reserve Center opened at Vance Air Force Base.

    July 18, 2014

  • Jeff Mullin mug 2012.jpg Airline passengers should not be casualties of war

    Nowhere in the flight attendants’ patter did the word “missile” appear, and the chance their gleaming Boeing 777 would be brutally slapped from the sky likely never even appeared even as a niggling doubt lurking in the darkest corners of the passengers’ minds.

    July 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Lady Liberty_MD.jpg Statue of Liberty replica should be repaired, returned

    Maybe we could learn a little from past history. Most know the original national monument was given by the people of France in recognition to a friendship that bloomed during the American Revolution.

    July 17, 2014 1 Photo

  • Steps can be taken to prevent West Nile Virus

    Symptoms of the virus include fever, headache, dizziness and muscle weakness, although in rare cases it can cause severe neurologic disease such as meningitis, paralysis or encephalitis. Some cases can be fatal.

    July 16, 2014

  • Will Rogers web.jpg Will Rogers Daily Telegrams 7-17-2014

    I get what the wheat farmers are sore at Hoover about. He wouldn’t let them hold up the people for bread during the war. Their excuse is that everybody else held us up, so why pick on them.

    July 16, 2014 1 Photo

Featured Ads
House Ads