The Washington Post has a front page, above the fold story about how Chris Christie “stretched the truth” (as the print edition puts it) in 1994 when he ran for the county board in Morris County, New Jersey. Christie alleged that his opponents were “being investigated by the Morris County prosecutor.” In reality, the county prosecutor had merely conducted an “inquiry” into whether the incumbent commissioners had violated an open-meeting law.
Post writer David Fahrenthold breathlessly leads off his story by stating:
In Chris Christie’s first successful campaign for public office, he sat down next to his wife and baby, looked into a camera and told voters something that wasn’t true.
Nice line. Take away the baby, and the Post could have used it dozens of times against Barack (“if you like your health insurance plan you can keep your health insurance plan”) Obama.
Christie was wrong to stretch, slightly, the truth about the extent to which his opponents had been probed for wrongdoing. He apologized for it, paid what must have been a small sum to settle a defamation suit, and was punished by the voters who turned him out of office in the following election.
But New Jersey voters obviously have gotten beyond this very minor transgression, having twice elected Christie governor, the second time overwhelmingly. In fact, Cecelia Laureys, one of the commissioners who sued Christie for defamation, later endorsed him for governor. She admired his work as U.S. attorney and thought he had “turned a page” after the 1994 campaign incident.
The Post, intent on turning back to that page, waits until the last two paragraphs of its story to mention Laureys’ inconvenient take on the 20 year-old incident.
We can expect a steady stream of stories like this about Christie as long as he poses a threat to the Democrats’ hold on the White House. If the Post can run a “bullying” story from Mitt Romney’s high school days, one can only imagine what it will about to dig up on Christie who, unlike Romney, actually may have a bullying streak.
Christie isn’t my choice for president, for reasons having nothing to do with bullying. In my view, the only good argument for nominating him is the claim that, for now at least, he seems the most likely Republican to win in 2016.
The Post’s decision to start shooting at Christie over a piddling incident like his 1994 campaign for county commissioner demonstrates that, indeed, he probably is the most electable Republican.