John Feehery: Speaking Engagements


Team Christie: Afflicting Itself

Posted on January 9, 2014

It was Mr. Dooley who first said, “politics ain’t beanbag.”

Finley Peter Dunne, the 19th century humorist/journalist, who hailed from the Irish part of the Chicago, found Mr. Dooley at an imaginary pub on the South Side.

Mr. Dooley was a political savant who saw the unvarnished realties and the dark side of politics.

It was Mr. Dooley who coined the phrase, “All politics is local.”

Chris Christie quoted Mr. Dooley in his two-hour press conference today.

In Jersey, politics certainly isn’t beanbag.

Finley Peter Dunne was a sharp observer of Chicago politicians.

One of the things I learned my time working for politicians from Illinois, where Chicago uneasily resides, is to always be careful in what you say and what you do, what you write and what you send.

Of course, it was a Boston politician, Martin Michael Lomasney, who coined the phrase, "Never write if you can speak; never speak if you can nod; never nod if you can wink.”

Lomasney was born of Irish parents, and I always thought that kind of political advice was endemic to the genes of an Irish politician.

I assume Bridget Anne Kelly is of Irish descent, although she was acting more like a Sicilian when she sent that email to her colleague at the New Jersey Port Authority.

Kelly committed political malpractice by putting her desires of political retribution in email form.

She might have been joking for all we know, but the final result was no joke to the folks who were commuting over the world’s busiest bridge.

Payback is pretty common in politics.  It was Abraham Lincoln who one said that the best way to get rid of an enemy is to make him a friend, but these days, politicians prefer to hold on their grudges like they are a winning Super-Lotto ticket.

But if every politician spends all of their time screwing every politician who screwed them, at the end of the day, the only people who really get screwed are the taxpayers.

And as we all know, most taxpayers are feeling like they are getting mightily screwed by the politicians on a continual basis.

Chris Christie’s chief appeal has been his passion for reform.  He has been strong enough to take on bureaucracies and wrestle them to the ground.  He has stood up to the Teacher’s Unions and had the courage to fight for better education for every child.

Sure Christie has been a tough guy and said some tough things, but Jersey -–the land of Tony Soprano—is a tough place and the only way to get tough stuff done is be tough enough to deliver.

But there is tough and then there is stupid.  There is tough and then there is vindictive.  There is tough and then there is being a political bully.

Christie’s team demonstrated that they could be bullies, vindictive and worst of all, stupid.  That might fly in the movies, but it doesn’t fly in the modern world of politics.

Finley Peter Dunne's most famous quote is about the role of newspapers, which he  said is to comfort the afflicted and afflict the comfortable.      It seems to me that the Christie team did a pretty good job afflicting itself with this terrible story, and it will take a while for him to be comfortable again (if he ever can be).