Why is Chris Christie still governor of New Jersey?

The US seems to lack a way to promptly oust corrupt politicians, and Christie highlights the defects in the system. He’s still at the top of the New Jersey hierarchy despite the bridge closure scandal. And now this: there is a state government shutdown which has closed New Jersey state parks (you can’t go downashore on the 4th of July weekend? This is culture shock for that area), except that Christie has used executive privilege to get his family a beach weekend. It’s got to be great — I’ve been to Jersey beaches, and they tend to be a tightly packed mass of milling humanity, except now the budget incompetence of the governor allows him to clear the masses and have the whole beach to himself.

Because this is a Republican administration, though, they have to lie about it. Christie is using a helicopter to shuttle himself from the shore to work (another expense), and he was asked if he was taking advantage of the beach closures.

At a Sunday news conference on the shutdown, Christie was asked if he got any sun today.

“I didn’t,” he said. “… I didn’t get any sun today.”

Unfortunately for him, a photo had been taken that morning.


When later told of the photo, Brian Murray, the governor’s spokesman, said:

“Yes, the governor was on the beach briefly today talking to his wife and family before heading into the office. He did not get any sun. He had a baseball hat on.”

He’s in shorts, t-shirt, and sandals, on a beach chair, on the beach, but he wasn’t getting any sun. Right. Got it.

What lessons have we learned, boys and girls?

  • Republicans will use their own administrative bungles to their own advantage, and no one else’s.

  • Republicans will lie flagrantly about it.

  • Even when caught, there’s nothing anyone can do about it, and the Republican will continue in office.

This should throw a bucket of shockingly cold water on anyone who thinks Donald Trump can be easily kicked out of office by rule of law. I’m beginning to believe that Trump could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody and we’d spend a couple of years dithering about what to do.

The Republicans know it, too. Let’s not ignore Christie’s let-them-eat-cake moment.

Asked if this is fair, Christie said Saturday: “Run for governor, and you can have a residence there.”


  1. Saad says

    The joke is actually on the people pointing out their bullshit.

    The accountability just isn’t there. And the employer-employee dynamic is pretty much reversed.

    “Please change your policies or your employment contract might not be renewed in two to six years” can’t possibly be much of a deterrent.

  2. Holms says

    There are ways of removing people from office. Unfortunately, there is no political will to enforce them. Brought to you by the party that shamelessly changes voting procedures on the fly to get their way.

  3. birgerjohansson says

    The Greek city-states had a more hands-on approach to removing leaders that were past their expiry date. Athens even had statues of two brothers that took out the garbage.

  4. birgerjohansson says

    …and Bartertown had a good way of resolving leadership disputes.

  5. bramhengeveld says

    The US have come so far that you are more or less looking into the validity of the argument that Christie did or did not get any sun. That’s the level the US have sunk too politically-wise. It’s mesmerizing. Really. Surely we’ve got some truly dickwaddling politicians here in the Netherlands, but goddamn… This is unreal. Except it is not.

  6. VolcanoMan says

    You Americans need a new political party. Institutional inertia has left you with corruption and selfishness from Republican administrations, and occasional beneficial legislation that gets watered down to almost nothing via attempts to compromise with greedy Republican fucks with no values (except for show) from Democrats. And even those consolation-prize policies are vilified and often reversed by the GOP. Why doesn’t some filthy rich true moral pillar of the community decide to start a new party, find charismatic people to lead it, offer a slate of policy positions that change when the evidence for their efficacy changes, and focus not on lofty goals like presidencies and governorships (at least at first), but on local and statehouse politics where it’s easier to make a difference?

    As long as Democrats and Republicans each know that they have a base of 30-40% of the population that will NEVER vote for the other major party, they have no incentive to change the way they do business. But if there was a third party proposing ideas that appealed to the dispossessed, the people sick of backroom deals and lobbyists, the people who want government to be quietly effective in providing the services that governments best provide, you can bet that it would strike fear into the hearts of both main parties (especially if the new party hired top-flight marketing firms to ensure its messages were presented in the best possible ways). It would take a lot of money, and a bit of time to earn some trust, but if people saw results that they liked it could grow into a main party in its own right.

  7. FossilFishy (NOBODY, and proud of it!) says

    It seems to me that all the proposed top down, fix the parties type solutions miss a big part of the problem. The cultural narrative of a nation in which *all* of its citizens are one boot strap from becoming billionaires is a huge unaddressed issue.

    How do you convince someone who believes that they are destined to become one of the elites to limit the perks of that status? Isn’t this a part of the great triumph of the right: convincing those who have the least to vote in the best interests of a mythical future self who’s lofty ascension is imminent and inevitable?

    I fear that no top down fix can touch such a powerful and intrenched narrative.

  8. Dunc says

    Why doesn’t some filthy rich true moral pillar of the community decide to start a new party

    Because “filthy rich true moral pillar of the community” is a contradiction in terms.

  9. cartomancer says

    birgerjohansson, #3

    I’m guessing you’re referring to the famous statues of the Tyrannicides – Harmodius and Aristogeiton. Actually the pair were lovers, not brothers, exemplfying the traditional Athenian aristocratic erastes-eromenos relationship. The story goes that the tyrant Hippias’s brother, Hipparchus (or his half-brother Thessalos in another version) tried to seduce Harmodius away from Aristogeiton, and when his advances were rebuffed tried to shame Harmodius’s family. The feud escalated into violence and the two lovers killed Hipparchus before being struck down themselves. This debacle proved the catalyst for the downfall of the Peisistratid tyrants several years later and, after their rival aristocrat Kleisthenes had taken over and created the democratic system, the two were lauded as national heroes. The original statues were carried off by the Persians during the sack of Athens in 480BC, and returned by Alexander the Great after he liberated them from the Achaemenid royal treasury at Susa in 331BC.

  10. Nemo says

    And then there’s this:

    Essentially a campaign poster, but paid for by the state of New Jersey, and called “official government advice” by Christie.

  11. What a Maroon, living up to the 'nym says

    Christie is term-limited and will be out of a job in less than a year. I suppose there’s a chance he could run for Senate some day, but it seems more likely that he won’t be getting another job in the public sector. So he’ll have to settle for some sinecure in a law firm or financial institution or lobbying group*. So he’s just practicing for all those lonely vacations he’s going to be taking on empty private beaches.

    *Unless of course he decides to follow his bliss and become a Springsteen groupie.

  12. jrkrideau says

    @ 14 SC (Salty Current)
    lL’ancien regime probably were just as ostentatious, you know.

  13. woozy says

    It’s one thing to be a selfish arrogant bastard, it’s another to lie about it.

    It’s on thing to lie about it, but another thing to pretend your lying and getting caught is somehow virtuous.

    Christie defended his visit to the shore, saying that he had previously announced his plans to vacation at the state-owned governor’s beach house and that the media had simply “caught a politician keeping his word.”

    “They actually caught a politician being where he said he was going to be with the people he said he was going to be with, his wife and children and their friends,” Christie said in an interview with the New York Fox TV station. “I am sure they will get a Pulitzer for this one.”

    (from MSN: http://www.msn.com/en-us/news/us/gov-chris-christie-is-blistered-over-his-day-at-the-beach/ar-BBDFFtO?ocid=sf )

    Simply appalling.

  14. Jado says

    I seriously think there will be an impeachment incident where the impeachment succeeds, and someone is removed from office, at which time all of the corroborating evidence will spill out and then there will be a FLOOD of impeachments.

  15. lee101 says

    “I’m beginning to believe that Trump could stand in the middle of Fifth Avenue and shoot somebody and we’d spend a couple of years dithering about what to do.”

    I’m beginning to think that was understatement on Trump’s part. Not only could he shoot someone in broad daylight, many of his followers would be only too happy to shoot someone if he handed them the gun. Figuratively speaking, his followers have already shot themselves and their families and grandkids (and mine, unfortunately) in the head, per healthcare, per social safety net, and even per intangibles like having a country one could be proud of. They’ve shot and killed any illusion of American exceptionalism, except to the extent that Americans have proven to be exceptionally and incorrigibly ignorant. Trump obviously sees and understands the dark underbelly of things in ways that honest folks can’t begin to grasp.

  16. Jack says

    Unfortunately the US — and its states — went with a presidential form of democracy, in which the legislatures can only oust the head of government through a supermajority, and only for specified reasons.

    Parliamentary democracy, where (usually the lower house of) the legislature can vote no confidence, has proven to be far, far more robust system on a global scale, preventing the constitutional crises of deadlocked government, and giving clearer lines of responsibility.

    This article was good: https://www.vox.com/2015/3/2/8120063/american-democracy-doomed

  17. anchor says

    “He’s still at the top of the New Jersey hierarchy despite the bridge closure scandal.”

    That’s the part I can’t understand. Not because some screwy legal maneuvers pinned the blame on some subordinates and left him in the clear, but because…well, hell, this is supposed to be NEW JERSEY. Where the hell is the spine that those people keep bragging they have??? Are they all in on it? Or are the good ones just scared shitless of getting knocked off?