Gridlockgate — has anyone called it that yet? — is at the top of the scandal scale. It sounds like the kind of thing Nixon’s more reckless operatives might have tried, but at least they confined their mischief to their political enemies. Christie’s political hatchet-wielders directed their mischief in a manner that disrupted the lives of thousands of ordinary citizens entirely removed from and blameless in the partisan conflicts of the state’s political class.
To be sure, helping one’s friends and harming one’s enemies — and the constituents and interests aligned with them — is an ordinary feature of budgetary and administrative government today. But these kind of ordinary acts of partisan warfare can at least be cloaked in a superficial rationale, whereas deliberately causing traffic misery is simply petty. It’s the kind of thing ordinary citizens rightly resent more than a corrupt garbage-hauling contract.