What We Have Here Is A Failure To Communicate

January 19, 2014 § Leave a comment

I have a prediction about the outcome of the Chris Christy story.  I don’t have any crystal ball but it is fun to speculate.  I have entitled this post with my favorite quote from Cool Hand Luke because politicians are notoriously inclined to start parsing sentences and redefining words when they are caught doing or saying something that has become inconvenient.  Remember Bill Clinton’s trouble with the word “is”?

I believe the Mayor of Hoboken is telling the truth.  I also believe that Christy, in some way we don’t yet know, let his office and political staff know that he wanted to punish the Mayors of Fort Lee and Hoboken.   But, as a canny pol, I suspect he left himself with some way out if the projects turned bad.  Like Captain Renault, he wanted to be able to say “I’m shocked, shocked to find out there’s . . .[politics] going on here.”

So first,  forget about finding something in writing.  He’s too smart for that.  We will be left with verbal communication, a form that seldom arrives at the recipient’s ear in the same shape it left the speaker’s mouth, especially when it involves intention.   Common phrases are, “Gee.  I never thought you would ______”  Or, “You must have misunderstood what I meant.”

I think this contretemps or clusterfuck if you prefer, will probably end with a repeat of a famous incident.  When Henry II became enraged at the stubborn behavior of his old friend, Thomas Becket, he is reported to have exclaimed, “”What sluggards, what cowards have I brought up in my court, who care nothing for their allegiance to their lord. Who will rid me of this meddlesome priest.”  So, four knights heard him, tracked Becket down and killed him.  And  Henry wound up doing penance by walking through Canterbury in his underwear and flogging himself.

The mental image of Christy doing the same in Fort Lee and Hoboken New Jersey is downright titillating.  Not going to happen.  It wouldn’t look presidential.


Abuse of Power

January 18, 2014 § Leave a comment

This morning I watched Steve Kornacki present a meticulously detailed indictment of Chris Christy’s attempt to blackmail the Mayor of Hoboken.  It was like watching the harpooning of a whale.  He picked up the harpoon, hefted it for balance, reared back and launched it straight at Christy, where it landed with a satisfying and penetrating thud.

I enjoyed the performance, of course.   But awhile later I began to reflect on the rather disturbing comparison of the outrage over the withholding of Sandy money from Hoboken, along with the willful traffic jam at Fort Lee, with Rick Perry’s rejection of ten billion dollars available over a period of ten years to finance medical care for 1.5 million Texans.

What’s the difference?  Can anyone doubt the obvious political motive behind Perry’s decision?  If he were to hold an hour and a half press conference and attempt to deny a raw political motive behind his decision, wouldn’t he be laughed out of the room?  It would replace his “Oops” debacle as a viral YouTube favorite.

In New Jersey, well known for its mobster culture and public office as a conduit to the penitentiary, they are talking about U.S. Attorney’s investigation of Christy.  In Texas, everyone seems to accept Perry’s decision as business as usual, no big deal.    I understand that the GOP’s faithful five on the Supreme Court issued an invitation to him and the other heartless governors who have joined him in this endeavor to deny doctors to sick children and others.  I suppose that means that he is not breaking the law.  But doesn’t it seem strange to anyone that withholding money from Hoboken New Jersey that the city needs to shore up its protection from another giant storm is regarded with outrage and proper subject for criminal investigations; but leaving 1.6 million Texans without a doctor  elicits little more than “Tsk Tsk!” “Too bad, but Texas is a conservative state.”

Guess not.  Nothing is going to happen until 100,000 of those victims and their supporters show up on a regular basis at the Governor’s mansion in Austin.  And I don’t see any evidence that that is likely to happen.


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