Chris Christie, Piano Player

Political scandals are like the motto on the box of Morton Salt: when it rains it pours. 

Once the initial story breaks, it is often only the beginning, and more seem to follow.  There's a hemorrhaging of revelations that is hard to stanch, as Chris Christie is learning. 

We don’t know yet Chris Christie’s full involvement in the blockage at the George Washington Bridge or, to phrase the question in the Watergate lexicon: what did he know and when did he know it? Which reminds us of another appropriate Watergate line, this one from William Saxbe, the Ohio senator who became Richard Nixon’s final attorney general.

When asked by a reporter what he thought of Nixon’s claims that he knew nothing about the Watergate cover-up, Saxbe compared the president to "the man who plays piano at a bawdy house for 20 years and says he doesn't know what's going on upstairs."

 [Nixon, incidentally, took pride in his skills at the keyboard, something Saxbe had to be aware of.]

The first time I really paid much attention to Christie was his keynote address at the 2012 GOP convention.  He was developing a reputation as feisty, outspoken, too moderate for the Tea Party wing of the party and a believer in bipartisan cooperation.  He seemed to be the antithesis of everyone else running for the nomination that summer.

I was anxious to hear his keynote address. It turned out to be all about Chris Christie and his mother, and Mitt something-or-other, the party’s incidental nominee, seemed to be merely an afterthought. 

Christie’s response to Hurricane Sandy two months later was redeeming.  He put people ahead of party in those weeks and propelled himself to an unprecedented bipartisan reelection victory in November. 

That may prove to have been the high water mark of Christies political career. 

Christie has reportedly been having considerable success on his fundraising tour on behalf of the Republican Governors Association (RGA), which elected him president last fall.  But the same can’t be said for his presidential ambitions, which appear to have taken an off-road detour past some traffic cones around Ft. Lee.

Do the subsequent revelations reach the level of scandal?  Maybe some, not all, but, to paraphrase Aristotle, the whole can become greater than the sum of its parts.

About the Author
Douglas M. Bloomfield is a syndicated columnist, Washington lobbyist and consultant. He spent nine years as the legislative director and chief lobbyist for AIPAC.