When traffic jams become a welcome respite

On September 9, 2013, Florence Genova, a 91-year-old Fort Lee, New Jersey, widow died while awaiting transport to a hospital. Her family says that the delay caused by the lane closures at the George Washington Bridge entrance did not affect her condition and they do not blame the illegal closings for the woman’s death.

Still, in a letter to the mayor from Fort Lee Emergency Services, the city’s EMS coordinator lists four other occurrences where treatment was delayed, including an eleven-minute trip to assist a man with chest pains. The trip usually takes four minutes.

I mention this now because the so-called Bridgegate Trial is underway and both the prosecution and the defense admit that Governor Christie was aware of the entire scheme. Both sides admit it. Even for those of us who blamed Christie all along, that’s shocking.

Chris Christie is a Trump guy—a vindictive and spiteful bully who several times, in unofficial but subsequently released emails or in person has advocated physical violence against opponents.

He’s the one who said teachers’ unions “are the single most destructive force in public education in America,” and deserve “a punch in the face.”

He denies acting the bully at press conferences: he claimed he was being “brutally honest” when dealing with “idiots.”

Following a snowstorm last winter when flooding ravaged New Jersey, he was asked at a campaign rally (he was still a candidate) why he wasn’t in his home state monitoring the situation. His response? “I don’t know what you expect me to do. You want me to go down there with a mop?” He later claimed the flood damage a mirage, ignoring the video of the North Wildwood Mayor who asserted that the destruction was “worse than Sandy.”

Christie is a Trump guy, with two differences. First, Bridgegate has hurt him, and will continue to hurt him; and even if he is exonerated, the fact that his subordinates acted that way because they wanted to impress him speaks volumes about the atmosphere he created in New Jersey. Second, at some level Christie cares about the state and the people in it, and it seems likely that he took his oath of office to heart. He’s not completely ignorant of issues.

But in the end it’s important that we look at how the opposition is treated by Chris Christie, because he presages what the Trump presidency will look like in its treatment of Latinos, Blacks, Muslims, women, the LGBT community, immigrants, women’s rights organizations, the disabled, the impoverished, Planned Parenthood, the Supreme Court, consumer rights, financial watchdogs, labor unions, environmental protection, and on and on. It’s an ugly future to contemplate, one where improvised traffic jams will be a delight—a chance to kick back and forget everything else that’s gone to hell.

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