New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s allies seem so worried about his political future, and so desperate to save him, that they are willing to trade away key issues to restore his image, now severely damaged since it emerged last week that members of his staff allegedly ordered several lanes blocked on the George Washington Bridge to create traffic and punish a local Democrat mayor who had failed to endorse Christie for re-election last year.
One ally, former New York major Rudy Giuliani, appeared Sunday on ABC News’ This Week with George Stephanopoulos to argue in Christie’s defense. One argument he used was that Christie could will have been unaware of the bridge issue, just as President Barack Obama had been unaware of the Benghazi terror attack in 2012. His point was not to hit the media for ignoring Benghazi, but to excuse Christie via excusing Benghazi.
Giuliani did the same in citing the IRS scandal, giving Obama the full benefit of the doubt: “I go back to the IRS scandal. People in the IRS thought President Obama wanted them to do this, when President Obama didn’t want them to do this.” Yet the scandal has yet to be investigated fully, and while there is no evidence yet tying Obama directly to the scandal, there is none exonerating him, and much suggesting he would have approved.
As governor, Christie would be expected to know about extreme traffic and bridge closures even during election season. The fact that government leaders are busy is not, and has never been, an excuse for failure. Moreover, a traffic problem pales in comparison to the apparent use of the nation’s tax collection authority to persecute political opposition, and to an attack on a U.S. diplomatic mission resulting in the death of the ambassador.
For Giuliani, who made his reputation as a leader in the fight against terrorism, to dismiss the Benghazi attack so easily is striking. He makes no mention, either, of the cover-up that followed, in which the president and his cabinet deliberately misled the nation and the world about the cause of the attack. Even if Obama had learned about the attack too late to respond (unlikely), his decision to fly the next day to a fundraiser is inexcusable.
Other members of the conservative political and media establishment made similarly alarming arguments in Christie’s defense. Brit Hume of Fox News blamed “the feminized atmosphere in which we exist today” for the scandal surrounding Christie’s conduct. Until Christie’s star fades, and another frontrunner for 2016 emerges–one who can keep the Tea Party hordes at bay–we might expect such bizarre rhetorical oddities to persist.