One of the most curiously enduring myths about American politics is that, as a rule, Republicans are disdainful of Big Government and its meddling ways. And of course, in many ways they are; that is, any part of government that serves a public purpose and meets its constituents’ needs is of course, Hitler and Stalin, put together.
But when Big Government is used just like the aforementioned worthies used it, say, to punish enemies, scapegoat monorities and the poor, spy on radicals, and perhaps start a war or two, its former taint is miraculously wiped away, and they become as fervent as New Dealers. Go figure, huh?
At least the tawdriness of the Christie scandal might begin to draw attention to the utter hypocrisy of Republicans’ often unseemly embrace of Big Government, but since the same thing has been playing out my whole life, I have my doubts. It seems that Christie hired a band of thuggish know-nothings to run political contests, then be paid outsized salaries to do pretty much the exact opposite of what their ostensible jobs were. Well, Nixon did that, too, although admittedly he scraped from slightly higher in the barrel.
And who could forget Reagan’s cronies? Nearly all were chosen specifically for their unfitness for, if not hostility to, their jobs. As with Nixon before him, they were pretty good at skullduggery, if nothing else.
Of course, things got exponentionally worse when Bush came along. Even the faintest pantomime of, well, running the place, quickly dissolved into naked political theater and payback. Amid the grossest abuses of power for political gain, including starting two wars, the slashing attacks on enemies real and perceived was still startling. Helen Thomas, the Dixie Chicks, Dan Rather, Valerie Plame, the US Attorneys….. Mere collateral damage in the larger war, which never involved doing anything for the American people.
So I guess Christie blew it, but only by getting caught before he was basking in the glow of Washington, where you never have to say you’re sorry. Just like every Republican of national prominence, he views politics as a game in which winning is the only thing, and office is merely a tool to gain that next office, which requires running up the score, by whatever means necessary.
But doing so honestly, by actually doing your job well and thus gaining the confidence of the voters is out of the question because, well, only sissies do that. And there’s always dark money and voter suppression, too, since Americans at large hate all of your ideas.
So while Christie may be waddling into the sunset, right behind him are a rogue’s gallery of similar, if not quite so operatic, charlatans ready to fill his shoes, if not his pants. Scott Walker. Ted Cruz. Rand Paul. They’ve seen Big Government, and they like it, too. Except the part about governing.