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L. Neil Smith's
Number 753, January 12, 2014

The wages of moderation are political death.

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The Wages of Moderation
by L. Neil Smith

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Attribute to L. Neil Smith's The Libertarian Enterprise

By now, I'm confident you've all heard, seen, or smelled the story about New Jersey's RINO Governor Chris Christie, whose administration allegedly closed down several lanes on the George Washington Bridge as political retribution of some kind against Fort Lee's Mayor Mark Sokolich.

"RINO" stands for "Republican In Name Only". Before the bridge incident, Rush Limbaugh was predicting that Christie would go over to the Democrats day after tomorrow. Now I doubt they'd let him in the clubhouse.

A number of radio pundits I've listened to claim not to understand how this sort of thing works. If they're telling the truth about their ignorance, I shall have to reassess how seriously I take anything else they have to say, exactly as I have with Meryl Streep, a bedwetting "progressive" whose movie portrayal of Julia Child nevertheless won me over totally—until she began making incredibly stupid, defamatory assertions about Walt Disney, gone fifty years and unable to defend himself.

It's simple, guys. The stretch of I-25 lying approximately between Loveland, Colorado and Fort Collins is some of the worst-kept highway in the state, because Larimer County voters (and a valiant handful of our local elected officials) refuse to suck the toes of the sitting governor, whoever he happens to be at the time, to his satisfaction. I don't know what Sokolich did or didn't do and I don't give a buffalo's buttocks. Whether Christie knew about it or not, his hatchet-wielders were apparently out to achieve the same effect in his behalf in New Jersey.

Unfortunately for the soon-to-be-former governor—to whom the expression RINO is more appropriate than for any politician since William Howard Taft—he got caught at it. Even more unfortunately, nobody believes him when he swears he knew nothing about it—they all heard Richard Nixon and Sergeant Schultz say exactly the same thing.

Most unfortunate of all, a 91-year-old woman who probably would have croaked on the gurney as she was being wheeled into the hospital, apparently died instead in an ambulance, stuck in traffic, thanks to the bridge's closed lanes. Lawrence O'Donnell, a pseudo-journalist who calls himself a "practical European socialist", has predicted (and this practical American libertarian agrees with him) that once the name of the victim is released, she will become "Christie's Willie Horton".

Look him up. Couldn't happen to a nicer guy.

But I've gotten ahead of myself. There followed afterward a huge collective flap and squawk—not mainly about the unfortunate dead lady, which would have required some decency and humanity on the part of entities who possess none—from the overwhelmingly left wing socialist media (take note: a plural noun) who spotted an opportunity to destroy a right wing socialist politician, and pounced on it like vultures.

On second thought, I apologize—to vultures.

Then Christie shot himself in the foot by holding a two-hour press conference in which he established himself decisively as a marathon liar.

Second Class.

But the truth is, setting that death to one side (Hey, if Hillary the Horrible can do it, so can I), this incident is so stupid and trivial the only reason I'm writing about it is to make the following point:

Of all Christie's dubious accomplishments, and they are many, the one he's most proud of and famous for is his moderation. In practice, this means that he has absolutely no discernable philosophy. Those are his principles, by God, and if you don't like them ... he'll change them. Which enables him, he would tell you, to reach out to the "other side of the aisle", and make compromises with them, so stuff can get done.

Even when it shouldn't.

Now you would think, when their moderate Republican buddy came under attack, that some of these Democrats he's been reaching out to all these years might have something to say in his defense: "Let's give him the benefit of the doubt," or something. But listen to the crickets.

Instead, they're already calling for a Congressional investigation which, translated into Russian and translated back again, means "show trial".

Also, there are other Republican moderates who share whatever serves Christie for values. You might expect them to stand up with him.

Nope ... more crickets.

Finally, there are the media (plural noun again) who have been pimping Christie for so long, not only as an ideal politician, but the very fellow who ought to get the Grand Old Party's next available nomination for President. They were the first to start snapping at his heels. They never really wanted him as President, They wanted him to be a losing Republican candidate for President, the GOP equivalent of Hubert Humphrey, George McGovern, Walter Mondale, and Michael Dukakis.

But now he's no longer useful to them, even for that.

And what he gets from conservatives and libertarians alike is a well-deserved chortle. Those among us who still care were worried that Republicans would succumb to pressure (about three ounces per square inch is all it takes) to make the fat man's Mitt Romney their nominee, which would leave us with the Death Angel of Benghazi for President in 2016.

Now it appears that Christie's future is all in the past. Maybe he did it to himself, maybe someone helped him. Even in the short run, it really doesn't matter. There's a couple of Christie's former flunkies walking around looking for new jobs tonight, but that's a hell of a lot better than 300 million Americans walking around looking for a new country—or a new planet. One deep pitfall (among many) has been dodged, and an important lesson is there to be learned, if there are any Republicans outside the Tea Parties who are capable of learning it.

Pay attention, GOP antidisestablishmentarians! (That's the first time I've ever written that word in its proper context in a genuine sentence.)

The wages of moderation are political death.

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