For those of you who have already forgotten the disastrous reign of terror by the Bush administration, it was marked and crafted based on the Unitary Executive Theory, a theory that the President controls the entire Executive Branch of Government. Now, the Bush administration took it a bit further – even thumbing its nose at the Judicial Branch when needed – getting legal interpretations of laws that were clearly contrary to those interpretations – and even crafting what they wanted in specific legislation.
Chris Christie was a product and a beneficiary of this Theory. He got his job as US Attorney despite major pushback from legal groups and only after working on Bush’s Presidential campaign as a major fundraiser (not to mention his brother donating hundreds of thousands of dollars personally). He kept his job as US Attorney after being on a list of those to be fired – sparing himself by presumably being one of the “loyal Bushies” (per Karl Rove himself) and even brought a highly specious case against a sitting US Senator just before the 2006 election.
And now, despite concerns and reservations (and sometimes shouting) by many people who followed Chris Christie’s career path, he is following the very same course here in New Jersey as Governor – being called a “king” and ruling by confrontation and bullying.
Like his mentors in the Bush administration, he has politicized the Judicial system – although this was through politicization the State Supreme Court as opposed to merely politicizing those who carry out justice via prosecutions. He has issued a large number of Executive Orders (25 already – many controversial and consolidating power within the Executive Branch, with one being withdrawn due to legal challenge, and one overturned already by the courts. And in a double-whammy, an Executive Order from earlier in the week pushes back the amount of time before NJ officials (including him) have to file financial disclosures. This hits to power, lack of transparency and also conflict of interest as the battle over how much Christie, his family and friends may benefit from his tax cut for the super rich.
He has put items in the budget that aren’t based in law – like the $65 million in Bergen County sales tax on days that most stores are mandated to be closed – with no movement to overturn this law. He has demonized anyone who criticizes his policies – like the decision noted above to give the most wealthy a tax cut at the expense of education, libraries and vital services.
Secrecy. Power grabs. Abuse of power. Class warfare. Arrogance. Belligerence. Political manipulation of other branches.
Hallmarks of the Bush view of consolidating power. And look how that turned out. Now look at what Bush era protégée Chris Christie is doing here.
We’ve seen the consequences before. Let’s hope it doesn’t happen again here in NJ.