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DAVID KRUSE

By Staff | Jan 31, 2014

The Bridgegate scandal has given me a new impression of New Jersey. Gov. Chris Christie said that his aide’s act of closing down lanes of traffic on the George Washington Bridge, causing an enormous disruption in people’s lives, whose interests they were supposed to be championing, in order to put political pressure on the local mayor to endorse Christie as he campaigned for governor, was “stupid.”

That depiction of what occurred seems woefully inadequate, superficial and incomplete.

My impression was that nobody in New Jersey appeared to be that shocked or surprised that something that unethical occurred there.

I was trying to grasp the measure of the offense by putting it into local Midwest terms.

What happened would have been similar to had Terry Branstad’s aides closed down 2 lanes of U.S. Highway 71 North coming into Spencer, during the Clay County Fair causing major traffic disruptions because Spencer Mayor Reynold Peterson had not issued an edict of support for Gov. Branstad’s re-election campaign.

The Clay County Fair is the largest county fair in the world bringing over 250,000 people to Spencer each fall.

Those aides would have then laughed about all the trouble they created for fairgoers. That would not be just a matter of being “stupid” unless the New Jersey governor was referring to his aides writing about it in e-mails getting caught.

It is inconceivable for something like that to happen here, and I am frankly surprised that it could happen there. My impression of New Jersey has been damaged by this scandal.

I didn’t get the feeling that the people of New Jersey were all that shocked over the revelation of abuse of power. It was like they knew this stuff goes on, and the only surprise was that this time it got out and they got caught.

It is also impossible for me to believe that this was the only instance of abuse of administrative power. The callous tone to the e-mails of Christie aides over the impact of what they had caused to happen to the public was downright evil.

They were so far opposite from serving as public servants it was also astounding.

Either Gov. Christie was a hugely poor judge of character of many close aides, or he contributed in some ways to the culture around him that they actually thought that what they were doing was OK, even if he had no direct knowledge of the specific acts.

I don’t believe that this scandal was an isolated superficial outlying event. I expect that it was just the lid coming off of Pandora’s box.

Christie aides were not unethical … “just this once.”

Democrats are going to be depicted as piling on, but let’s get it into perspective. Last fall, Gov. Christie was riding high in the polls, and they all knew that he was cruising to a landslide re-election victory.

It was a perfect time for an unethical administration to intimidate political opponents because they knew that they were going to have to deal with his administration for their constituents to get fair treatment from the state for a long time after.

Christie aides proved that they had no hesitation what-so-ever offering quid-pro-quos crossing lines of integrity as they exerted their political leverage.

Bridgegate was a “get in line or we will screw you” message to local governments.

Christie has been portrayed as a great governor worthy of consideration for becoming president. I admit that politicians have consistently disappointed me – George W., Barack and now Christie.

He will have a huge job ahead of him rehabilitating his reputation. He says not to hold New Jersey accountable for what happened. But I do.

They were just not shocked enough over what happened which tells me they tolerate this stuff to one degree or another far more than they should.

Iowa Gov. Terry Branstad is now our state’s longest-serving governor. He is running for a sixth term, and he too should cruise to an easy re-election victory this fall.

I don’t believe that Branstad is going to use his political clout as a hammer to bludgeon constituencies that may not vote for him.

Compared to most other states, Iowa is in excellent condition. The state is on a solvent fiscal path. Health care, education and transportation are all what they need to be.

The good condition of the state is due in part to the bi-partisan way it has been governed with both parties putting the interest of constituents first.

Iowa is way ahead of Washington and New Jersey in that regard.

The political gamesmanship and subsequent horrible state of national affairs is the opposite of Iowa.

Why is it that Christie gets touted to be president and Branstad, with a far better record, is never mentioned? Because Branstad is not a celebrity, I guess.

Given what we now know about the Christie administration, celebrity appears to have gotten over-rated.

David Kruse is president of CommStock Investments Inc., author and producer of The CommStock Report, an ag commentary and market analysis available daily by radio and by subscription on DTN/FarmDayta and the Internet.

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