Stanley Crouch: Bye-bye blues for a fake tough guy — Christie exposed
There is so much posturing, fraudulent assertion of factoids and mass amnesia that many in public life believe apologies doused in self-pity and whining to the point of tears will do the job of earning forgiveness.
When Melissa Harris-Perry tried to skate across the frozen pond of militant ethnic humor, the likes of Sean Hannity and Ann Coulter were outraged.
Hannity wondered, with pomposity sharpened to a razor edge, if Harris-Perry’s tearful apology was heartfelt or a cynical attempt to keep her MSNBC job after her network did away with Martin Bashir and Alec Baldwin for saying things defined as contemptible. Coulter went even further, calling Harris-Perry no more than MSNBC’s “token” black woman, one among many ethnic tokens.
One of Fox News’ big flock of lightweight blondes, Coulter at least has nerve, along with a plethora of factoids. But I doubt even she could have helped New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, who belly-flopped at his press conference last week as he tried to clear the air about why his administration had purposefully snarled traffic on the George Washington Bridge to punish its political enemies.
For nearly two hours, the phony Tony Soprano, who loves to joke about the unforgiving concrete of his “New Jersey style,” played at contrition, absurdly asserting his sensibility is totally free of the irrational need for revenge.
At the epic press conference, the “leader” fond of taping himself shouting down citizens found the concrete shoes on his own feet this time. With the facts damning and no other options in sight, he seemed to think he could go overboard, diving out of sight, and swim off in those heavy fins, despite the scandalous garbage attached to his tail.
Fighting for his own skin, he made a permanent bed under the bus for prominent members of his own team, calling them stupid liars, without compassion. He even hinted that one of his oldest friends and henchmen was a loser back when they were in high school together, beneath the notice of Christie, who boasted, “I was the president and class athlete.”
That’ll be the last time he’s ever elected president.
Even as Christie put knives in his allies’ backs, he swore that he was the one wounded by the betrayals surrounding him. Hmm.
Still, the wide would-be wiseguy might never have been exposed this way if not for one of our most impressive cable-news reporters, Rachel Maddow, who harpooned him weeks ago, when the scandal was brand new and the blood in the water still fresh. She caught the scent of something rotten — perhaps a bag of bad meat —in the Garden State and followed the smell home.
That quickly became known as “Bridgegate,” and attentive and curious reporters picked up the scent. Like any great fact seeker, Maddow knew the story needed close attention — no wavering and no sensationalism. None needed. That was shown as more facts and the threat of more former members of Christie’s circle were being focused on. They were expected to provide more information, since it is fairly obvious that the gubernatorial god of wrath began doing enemies in shortly after being elected the first time.
Perhaps a so-called vengeful culture was created and people did what they thought they were expected to do — if and when any opportunity arrived.
It seemed effective, but was not. Electronic tracks were left as blood in the water or huge footprints left by a wounded elephant on the run.
Unfortunately for the political pachyderm in charge of the Garden State, his wounds were spearings from facts, not exaggerations — and they will likely prove mortal to his career ambitions.
However harsh and ugly all of this looks — shutting down a bridge to spite political foes, and then shivving friends to try to escape blame for it — it is only the most recent example of what Pulitzer Prize winner Michael Hiltzik wrote about the governor in the Los Angeles Times, detailing in ice-cold facts Christie’s long record of sacrificing benefits to New Jersey to elevate his own presidential profile as a budget “tough guy.” Hiltzik wrote as though this formidably tough but dangerous guy is driven by what all addicted to their own greed believe is a simple two-word philosophy: me first.
Chris Christie’s exposed now, and no pose he strikes will cover his irresponsible version of revenge for not submitting to and supporting him.
Many of us will enjoy seeing him live out what’s left of his political career in the smokehouse, feet tied above his head.
Stanley Crouch can be reached by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.