Thursday, January 16, 2014

A Bridge Too Far, Senator Christie?


There are, believe it or not, Republicans in Northern Connecticut. Like Republicans in the rest of the state, they remain closeted, and their voting influence in Connecticut is negligible – except in urban areas, where it is non-existent. Democrats outnumber Republicans in the state by a ratio of two to one; in the cities, the ratio is two to zero.

But every so often, a closeted Republican gets his hackles up over some manifest indignity, and such was the case early in the New Year, after Governor of New Jersey Chris Christie permitted one of his staffers to drop him metaphorically off the George Washington Bridge.

In “Speak Out,” a regular feature of The Rockville Reminder, Connecticut Commentary finds this:

“Could someone bring me up to speed on this Chris Christie bridge scandal? Did he drive off one with a girl in his car who was not his wife and leave her to drown, making absolutely no attempt whatsoever to save her life? Why did he [Mr. Christie] take full responsibility? Why didn’t he just say, ‘I knew nothing about this, until I read about it in the newspaper? Then the mainstream media would declare it a ‘non-story,’ and we could all just forget about it, pretend it never happened and move on.”

Perhaps the take-away from “Kopechnegate” is that torpedoes that sink presidential ambitions are of little use in senatorial campaigns. It may be possible to convince Northeast Republicans – who begin to wonder whether ANY Republican in the Northeast can wage a successful presidential campaign – that the U.S. Senate could use yet another fiscally conservative, socially moderate, Eastern Seaboard politician – and the title “Senator Christie, Lion Of The Senate” has a neat ring to it. Mr. Christie, as others have noted, IS capable of roaring.

Perhaps the take-away from “Kopechnegate” is that torpedoes that sink presidential ambitions are of little use in senatorial campaigns. It may be possible to convince Northeast Republicans – who begin to wonder whether ANY Republican in the Northeast can wage a successful presidential campaign – that the U.S. Senate could use yet another fiscally conservative, socially moderate, Eastern Seaboard politician – and the title “Senator Christie, Lion Of The Senate” has a neat ring to it. Mr. Christie, as others have noted, IS capable of roaring.

The hidden reference, of course, is to the late Senator of Massachusetts Edward Kennedy, the “Lion of the Senate” who quitted this veil of tears in 2009, after having roared in that body for 47 years. At his funeral, Mr. Kennedy was given a splendid launch towards the Pearly Gates by his Democratic confreres in the Senate, and former U.S. Republican Senator Lowell Weicker.

According to most accounts, Mr. Kennedy, following the accident, had returned to the party he and Ms. Kopechene attended, passing several houses and a fire station along the way. He then returned to Dyke Bridge with two friends who had advised him that he was required by law to report the accident. Thereafter, Mr. Kennedy, no doubt tuckered out from his ordeal, made his way to a hotel, called his lawyer and went to sleep. An autopsy on the body of Ms. Kopechne was not permitted by her family, but the diver who pulled her body from the submerged car later said, according to multiple reports , that Ms. Kopechne “had positioned herself near the back seat wheel well where an air pocket had formed, and had apparently suffocated rather than drowned” – which means that Ms. Kopechne’s life might have been saved had Mr. Kennedy summoned help immediately from houses close to the scene of the accident.

The sons and daughters of Camelot would do well to take up the anonymous Rockville Reminder correspondent on one important point. We have it from then U.S. Senator Kennedy that the Senator DID make repeated attempts to save the drowning Mary Jo Kopechne (born 1940, drowned 1969). 

It is generally acknowledged that the preventable drowning in Poucha Pond put an end to Mr. Kennedy’s presidential ambitions, but the incident at Dyke Bridge did not interfere with Mr. Kennedy’s senatorial ambitions.

The “t’s” have not yet been crossed, nor the “i’s” dotted, on what is being called “Christiegate.”

Seasoned political watchers are skeptical that Mr. Christie’s defense will hold up under scrutiny. Mr. Christie has said he was unaware of his team’s effort to punish a Democratic mayor who did not enthusiastically embrace his campaign by causing an unnecessary traffic jam on the George Washington Bridge. Doubtful political commentators await the uncovering of a “smoking gun” e-mail that will tie the “Christiegate” can to his tail.


But should Mr. Christie’s presidential ambitions fall to an e-mail tying him to Christiegate, even then all may not be lost.


Perhaps the take-away from “Kopechnegate” is that torpedoes that sink presidential ambitions are of little use in senatorial campaigns. It may be possible to convince Northeast Republicans – who begin to wonder whether ANY Republican in the Northeast can wage a successful presidential campaign – that the U.S. Senate could use of a few new fiscally conservative, socially moderate, Eastern Seaboard politicians – and the title “Senator Christie, Lion Of The Senate” has a neat ring to it. Mr. Christie, as others have noted, IS capable of roaring.


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