New Jersey’s “bridgegate” scandal (in which the state government intentionally snarled traffic as political payback) has certainly captured the media’s imagination. The big three networks dedicated over 34 minutes of airtime to it in a single day, which is 17 times as much as they dedicated to the IRS scandal over the past half year.
And with good cause; the allegation is very serious indeed. Chris Christie stands accused . . . of behaving like a Democrat.
Dealing out political retribution has been the Democrat playbook going all the way back to Martin Van Buren, who — with Andrew Jackson — founded the modern Democratic party. (Jackson himself was more direct. When he was particularly incensed with someone, he would shoot him.)
Today’s Democratic party is rife with this sort of thing. The closest analogue is Seattle’s Democratic mayor closing city streets, out of an explicit desire to inconvenience drivers.
But a better example of callous political retribution was Barack Obama’s shutdown theater last year. During the government shutdown, the Obama administration directed the government to “make life as difficult as possible“. And so they did:
- They stopped an individual from mowing the lawn at the Lincoln Memorial.
- They barricaded wheelchair ramps.
- They removed handles from water fountains.
- They (illegally) closed Alaskan lands.
- They closed the Grand Canyon, and refused to let the state reopen it at state expense.
- They sent armed rangers to lock tourists into a Yellowstone lodge and ensure they could not see Old Faithful.
- They closed the only safe road through Blount County, forcing parents to take their kids to school on “white knuckle” routes.
- They shut down the AMBER alert web site.
- They (illegally) evict elderly people from their own homes.
- They closed the parking lot at Mount Vernon, which isn’t even government property.
- They barricaded highway viewing areas at Mount Rushmore.
- They cut off cancer treatment for children.
- They closed the Claude Moore Colonial Farm, which received no government funding and is operated entirely by volunteers.
- They barricaded national open-air monuments, and closed privately operated parks.
None of these (save one) were mandated by the shutdown; they actually cost the government money to perpetrate. (The exception, cancer treatment for children, Republicans sought to fund, but the Democrats refused.)
The most recent example to come to light is how the White House took extraordinary steps to ensure that the budget sequester hurt rural schools. (Via Instapundit.) In this instance, the Agriculture Department had already determined that the sequester would have no effect on funds already disbursed the previous year. However, the White House overruled that determination, and ordered them to claw back the money they had already spent.
It’s wrong for anyone to behave like this, and we do expect better from Republicans. Christie ought to be in hot water over it. But all the furor from the Democrats and their media allies over this is very much the pot calling the kettle black.