As I write this, #bridgegate is the fifth highest trending topic on Twitter in the U.S.
Not to sound pompous, but I’d guess that a significant amount of people who are Tweeting it aren’t even fully aware of what it refers to — they just like saying the name. And rightfully so.
Since Watergate, it has become common practice to name any covert scandal with the word “gate” at the end. Therefore, any instance — whether political or not — where a behind-the-scenes scheme violates legal or ethical codes, it’s only a matter of time until a catchy name latches onto the general public.
Well, it didn’t take long for Gov. Christie’s little wrongdoing to get its own tagline: the aforementioned bridgegate.
Once the name settles, people’s interest usually wanes. There will be plenty of jokes to be made, but eventually those will go stale, and it’s over. At least in the Twitterverse, that is. In real life, it’s only beginning.
This “scandal” concerns Christie’s staff conspiring to close lanes from the George Washington bridge into Fort Lee as an act of political vengeance on the city — their mayor, Mark Sokolich, is a Democrat who didn’t support the Republican Christie in his recent gubernatorial election.
Emails on record show Christie’s chief of staff Bridget Anne Kelly telling Port Authority of New York and New Jersey employee David Wildstein — a childhood friend of Christie — “Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee.” The lane closings created a major logjam in the city in September, preventing school buses from delivering children home and ambulances from responding to emergencies.
Christie is not yet directly implicated in the incident, but for weeks, he proclaimed that his staff was faultless. His apology today consisted of a visit to Fort Lee to shake hands with residents, and he fired Kelly as a means of damage control. An U.S. Department of Justice investigation into the matter will tell us more about his involvement, or lack thereof.
Did I lose you guys? I’m sorry. #BRIDGEGATE.
The reason this scandal is so highly publicized, of course, is because Christie is considered to be a serious candidate for the presidency in 2016. And to be president, one must lead a blemish-free record, at least until they take the office. They can sleep with as many staff members as they want after that.
But at the end of day, scandals are not really a good thing. I know that sounds obvious, but think about it. They highlight corruption, crime, immorality, abuse of power and are absolutely laborious to read about. Those few paragraphs I typed above detailing #bridgegate are probably some of the most boring words I’ve ever written on this blog.
And most importantly, we — the people — are the losers. Thousands of people who were stuck in hours of immobility that day in New York and New Jersey are even more pissed about it now.
So that’s why it’s just fun to give them names, and not care anymore after that. Also, major props to the newspapers who went with “Chris Christie in a jam” as their headline.
As many people have pointed out before me, this — considering that people were physically gated off at toll booths — is the closest we’ve ever come to #gategate.
Personally, I think the world just wasn’t ready for it yet.
We’ll get there.