Ellison’s Must Read of the Day

Ellison Barber
• January 9, 2014 9:11 am


My must read of the day is "DNC Pounces on Christie Scandal," on

If angry conservative tweets are any indication this morning, the Republican defense, at least at this point, appears to be that imposing a crippling traffic on a community for a week doesn’t seem like too big a deal. This understates matters considerably.

To reiterate a piece from a month ago, it’s worth considering the larger context. First, Christie and his team have spent years carefully cultivating a reputation: the governor is "above politics" and has no use for "politics as usual." The available evidence does enormous, perhaps permanent, damage to that reputation.

Second, though no one was seriously hurt in Fort Lee, Port Authority officials have described this as "dangerous" – when the Christie administration brought the community to a halt, emergency crews were unable to move, too. The governor’s team put innocent people at risk as part of a petty, partisan stunt, which is plainly indefensible.

And finally, once officials are known for abusing their power, it’s a tough label to shake. This is less about a few days of traffic and more about a governor accused of using a powerful public agency as some kind of weapon, punishing a town out of petty, partisan spite, while putting public safety at risk.

Is Christie’s national political career over? No.

Was what happened in Ft. Lee okay? No.

I don't think it is acceptable to behave like this. Even if Christie did not have direct knowledge of why lanes were being closed, he is still the man at the top. He holds a lot of responsibility, and no one will convince me that this was anything other than wrong and an abuse of power.

What Christie says at his 11 a.m. press conference should matter greatly.

The bridge closure is important because it’s about integrity. But you also have to consider: What are the things Hillary Clinton might have to answer for in a potential 2016 run?

I can think of two things that were in the news this week. The first is Benghazi; we learned that one of the men behind the attack was a former Guantanamo prisoner, a terrorist who trained at an terror camp run by Osama bin Laden and later "worked for a bin Laden company in Sudan, where the al-Qaeda leader lived for three years." That further discredits efforts to say al Qaeda was not involved in the attack.

And then there’s Robert Gates’ book. Gates recalls a conversation between Hilary Clinton and President Barack Obama in which Clinton told Obama she opposed the 2007 Iraq surge because she was facing Obama in the Iowa primary, not because she believed it was the right call. That is playing politics with national security, foreign policy, and our troops.

Which will matter more in 2016: lane closures, or national security?