The Joplin Globe, Joplin, MO


January 15, 2014

Geoff Caldwell, columnist: Media prefer Obama's island to Christie's

JOPLIN, Mo. — In 1623, English poet John Donne penned a memorable line about one of humanity’s basic truths: “No man is an island.”

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is now living that truth.

Christie first garnered national attention in 2009 when he won the governorship of decidedly Democrat New Jersey. That a Republican could win New Jersey was one thing; to do it in the first year of the Obama honeymoon was quite another.

Christie took on some of the most powerful unions in the country and won. He shamed one of the most fiscally irresponsible state legislatures in the nation into at least a modicum of fiscal restraint. And he went where no modern politician had gone before by taking on the radicals in his own party.

The establishment loved him because behind his public bluster were private deals and business as usual. The mainstream media adored him because he gave them the most precious commodity of all: another chance to bash the tea party. And every political strategist who had worked on a losing Republican campaign loved him because they had the perfect candidate to present to their mythical moderate middle.

Christie had created a political island paradise in one of the most corrupt states in the country. 

He handily won a second term. With recent polls showing him beating Hillary Clinton in a hypothetical 2016 presidential matchup, he was living the dream.

The only problem was that he built his dream on Fantasy Island. 

That island became endangered the minute deputy Chief of Staff Bridget Anne Kelly typed “Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee” and hit send on her email. The recipient, Christie-appointed port authority member David Wildstein, replied, “Got it.” 

With that one exchange, thousands trying to access the George Washington Bridge from the Fort Lee, N.J., side endured days of commuter hell as two lanes suddenly closed for a “traffic study.”

While Kelly has been fired, Wildstein has resigned and Christie held a textbook-perfect news conference, the tide against him is rising.

We are now learning of a federal audit of Hurricane Sandy relief money spent on tourism ads highlighting Christie and his family, Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer is questioning why less than 1 percent of hazard mitigation grant money was awarded to her city after she did not endorse Christie for re-election. Jersey City Mayor Steven Fulop, an Iraq War veteran, could only watch last year as scheduled meetings with administration officials on transportation and Hurricane Sandy recovery were canceled en masse following his own decision not to endorse Christie.

Drip, drip, drip.

The established media narrative is that it’s irrelevant whether Christie knew of these political shenanigans. He is the man at the top. He is responsible. He sets the tone. He creates the culture. He should be held to account.

I could not agree more. Christie built his island; it’s up to him to defend it.

If only the media would approach the Obama administration the same way.

With four Americans killed in Benghazi, IRS abuses, NSA spying on everyone and the debacle that is, one would think there would be a long list of fired bureaucrats who were held to account by the man at the top. To date, there is not name one on that list.

Both Christie and Obama should be held to account. But Obama’s island is in the shape of a D. And that, as we know, makes all the difference in the world.

Geoff Caldwell writes on national and international affairs. He lives in Joplin. Contact him at

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