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Saturday, January 11, 2014

Governor Chris Christie and Traffic on the George Washington Bridge

It's about the impact of the visuals.  
First the polar vortex and now this....

Republican pundits are spinning Governor Christie's marathon press conference to defend the retribution of closing lanes on the George Washington Bridge as sufficient to fix his political future.

Nevertheless, Dylan Scott reports in Talking Points Memo Muckraker:

"...while he hit all the necessary notes -- apologizing to the people of New Jersey, announcing he'd fired members of his staff and claiming the ultimate responsibility for what happened -- Christie routinely slipped into moments of cognitive dissonance and rhetorical flubs that suggested the scandal has left the governor at least slightly shaken."

To me, this retribution scandal has legs beyond the rhetoric and political posturing. Rather, it's about the impact of "traffic jams" on the human psyche and the lingering effect of visuals.

Republican pundits like the the naive and apologetic Jennifer Rubin desperately want to see Governor Christie rise above this George Washington Bridge power-run-amok scandal.  

Of course, if this was just a story about politics as usual, I'm confident the governor would have no problem overcoming an incident as difficult to understand as deciding what E-Z Pass lanes to access on the chaotic George Washington Bridge, connecting New Jersey and New York City.

But, this situation impacts everyone who's been hung up in a preventable traffic jam. It causes flashbacks, every time a visual of this incident shows up with Governor Christie's picture superimposed in the graphic.

or try this one....

TRENTON (The Borowitz Report)—All lanes of traffic on the George Washington Bridge were blocked this afternoon by New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s ego, traffic reports said.

Aerial images of the bridge showed traffic snarling for miles as Mr. Christie’s massive self-regard shut down all lanes on the upper and lower roadways. Tracy Klugian, a frustrated motorist attempting to head back to his home in Montclair, New Jersey, echoed the feelings of many drivers whose passage was blocked by the gargantuan ego: “First the polar vortex, and now this.”

.....this from The Daily Beast:

Obviously, given these catching opportunities, Christie's marathon press conference, held 3 months after the September traffic jam incident occurred, is like a Holiday gift that keeps on giving.  

When politicians are caught red handed stealing or philandering, the public doesn't see the outcome other than via sensational headlines. What's news about politicians caught stealing and sleeping around, anyway?  But give political strategists a visual like a traffic jam? You betcha! These images impact on the average person and thereby grow "legs" longer than traffic lines on the George Washington Bridge, even on a slow traffic day.

It could be, Governor Christie's smug statement about "setting up traffic cones on the George Washington Bridge" may even be prophetic of his future.  

In September 2013, lanes were closed on the New Jersey side of the George Washington Bridge. At first it was dismissed as a "traffic study" and Christie turned early accusations that he had something to do with it into a political joke. ("I worked the cones, actually," Christie said, deflecting a question at a news conference last month. "Unbeknownst to everybody I was actually the guy out there, in overalls and a hat.")



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