Thursday, February 05, 2015

Still Squeezing That Orange

Chris Christie lies profusely. He will lie about something relatively inconsequential, such as bragging about being the first governor to endorse Mitt Romney for president in 2008, which must have surprised Nebraska governor Heineman or Idaho governor Otter (not either otter below).

He will lie to cover up failed policy, as he did when claiming nurse Kaci Hickox had symptoms of Ebola, or about his communications with his then-Education Secretary Bret Schundler about a Race to the Top application.

Christie will lie to back up a lie, as he did when falsely claiming New Jersey (with the 31st highest tax burden in the country) is the most-heavily taxed state, then falsely claim a study determined residents were leaving the state in droves because of their tax burden.

The New Jersey governor was not above lying about when his friendship began with Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones, who has a major financial interest in a company which received- with a boost from the governor- a major contract with the state.

He will lie in a political campaign to avoid opposition from a major group of voters, as he did when he told police and teachers he would protect their pensions, then  after being elected "shifted more costs to public workers, raised their retirement age to 65, and froze yearly cost-of-living adjustments."

These are only the outright lies, not his flagrant distortions, and exclude a few things, including Bridgegate, about which more will be learned when the indictments start coming.

However, Chris Christie has been completely honest about one thing- his future in New Jersey. Speaking before the NJ NAACP convention in October, the state's chief executive (video below)

offered no further clues as to whether he'd declare his candidacy for president next year, but one thing he was Waterford crystal-clear on: He really, really does not want to be a U.S. senator:

"Believe me: When I say I am never running for public office in New Jersey again? I mean I am never running for public office in New Jersey again. The only job left for me to run for is United States Senate, and let me just say this: I would rather die than be in the United States Senate. Okay? I would be bored to death. Can you imagine me bangin' around that chamber with 99 other people? Asking for a motion on the amendment in the subcommittee? Forget it. It would be over, everybody. You'd watch me just walk out and walk right into the Potomac River and drown. That'd be it."

Chris Christie loves the perks of being governor, including privileges he could not enjoy if he were a member of the US House of Representatives or US Senate. The New York Times reports

As Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey waited to depart on a trade mission to Israel in 2012, his entourage was delayed by a late arrival: Mr. Christie’s father, who had accidentally headed to the wrong airport.

A commercial flight might have left without him, but in this case, there was no rush. The private plane, on which Mr. Christie had his own bedroom, had been lent by Sheldon G. Adelson, the billionaire casino owner and supporter of Israel. At the time, he was opposing legislation then before the governor to legalize online gambling in New Jersey.

Mr. Christie loaded the plane with his wife, three of his four children, his mother-in-law, his father and stepmother, four staff members, his former law partner and a state trooper.

King Abdullah of Jordan picked up the tab for a Christie family weekend at the end of the trip. The governor and two staff members who accompanied him came back to New Jersey bubbling that they had celebrated with Bono, the lead singer of U2, at three parties, two at the king’s residence, the other a Champagne reception in the desert. But a small knot of aides fretted: The rooms in luxurious Kempinski hotels had cost about $30,000; what would happen if that became public?

It didn't become public at the time and now will be largely ignored, both because Christie has been a media darling and because he is a powerful state official (whose administration has "fought to shield the cost of his travel") rather than a member of the national legislature, which has standards. Times' reporters Kate Zernike and Michael Barbaro explain

Letting the king pay for his three-day weekend in Jordan back in 2012 would not have been allowed if Mr. Christie were, say, president or a United States senator; it is illegal for federal employees to accept gifts of more than nominal value from agents of foreign governments. An executive order Mr. Christie signed in 2010 allows New Jersey governors to have travel and related expenses paid by foreign governments; it does not specifically address gifts such as the parties the king held for him, but the governor’s staff said it was covered under a provision that allowed gifts from personal friends.

The article notes that while several nations have shown greater interest in trading with New Jersey, the future presidential candidate now is in England, offering less potential, because that is where American expatriates with deep pockets are residing. It seems Christie takes seriously Willie Sutton, who (however falsely) is reported to have said he robbed banks because "that is where the money is," and is eyeing funding for his campaign for the White House.

Christie enjoys the luxuries which come from being a governor, for

While previous New Jersey governors have flown commercial for trade missions, Mr. Christie flew privately for three. (His spokeswoman said he flew commercial to London.) He has taken family on all. He stays in five-star properties: the King David in Jerusalem, the Intercontinental in Mexico City. The hotel in London, the Corinthia, has a Baccarat chandelier and masses of flowers refreshed every morning.

This is who Chris Christie is.  Zernike and Barbaro found

A Justice Department report after he left office found that he was the prosecutor who most often exceeded the charges allowed for hotel stays in different cities, without properly searching for a cheaper alternative, or justifying any exemption from the rules. He stayed at a Four Seasons in Washington and a new boutique hotel in Boston, for example, at more than double the cost allowed for those cities.

Chris Christie lies like a rug. But a rug after a while has to be taken up and replaced and Christie sometimes departs from form and tells the truth, such as boasting (!) "I try to squeeze all the juice out of the orange I can." There is still juice left to squeeze from New Jersey residents. Once his unsuccessful quest for national office ends and he leaves the Statehouse because of term limits, there is no telling what shape that once-vibrant orange between New York and Philadelphia will look like.

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