Five Reports of Political Bullying that DON'T Involve Chris Christie
Bridgegate is here - and it's ugly. Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey is hot water over allegations that some lane closures on the George Washington Bridge were an act of political retribution last fall. Reportedly, this action was executed in response to Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich declining to endorse the governor during the 2013 gubernatorial election. Christie has been accused of being spiteful, a bully, and engaging in the politics of vengeance.
Then again, similar accusations of bullying by the Obama administration haven't drawn nearly as much media attention as Christie's conundrum.
It's not that hard to wrap your mind around. Christie's administration may have caused some traffic problems, but he fired the ones allegedly responsible for the act. Obama did nothing after the IRS fiasco was unearthed.
So, let's take a trip down memory lane and look at five instances where the Obama administration has been accused of engaging in the politics of vengeance.
1. Obama's intimidation of the press
That's right. The very people that seem so smitten with Obama are aware that his administration can be very "nasty" to deal with - and it'll threaten their jobs if it feels you'll embarrass the president. This was mentioned by none other than CNN's Carol Costello last October.
She said, "I felt it first hand when I was, you know, reporting on the presidential race...I mean President Obama's people can be quite nasty. They don't like you to say anything bad about their boss, and they're not afraid to use whatever means they have at hand to stop you from doing that, including threatening your job."
2. Health care insurers feared retaliation by the Obama administration.
Last October, when the Healthcare.gov fiasco reached its height, health care providers feared retribution in response to speaking out against how the changes in the Affordable Care Act would impact their customers, according to CNN's Drew Griffin.
He noted, "if an insurance executive is quoted, speaks out, says anything negative about the Obamacare roll-out, they, or more likely their bosses, are to get a call from inside the White House asking them to explain the comments...it's being perceived as pressure to keep quiet."
Robert Laszewski, a health care industry insider said, "the White House is exerting massive pressure on the industry, including the trade associations, to keep quiet."
3. Email instructs responsible parties to make sequester as painful as possible.
We all know the sequester was a "dud," as the Washington Post aptly noted last summer, but an email to one federal official instructed him to make the cuts as painful as possible per the request of the president.
As Stephen Dinan wrote in the Washington Times last March, "Animal and Plant Health Inspection Service official Charles Brown said he asked if he could try to spread out the sequester cuts in his region to minimize the impact, and he said he was told not to do anything that would lessen the dire impacts Congress had been warned of."
'We have gone on record with a notification to Congress and whoever else that 'APHIS would eliminate assistance to producers in 24 states in managing wildlife damage to the aquaculture industry, unless they provide funding to cover the costs.' So it is our opinion that however you manage that reduction, you need to make sure you are not contradicting what we said the impact would be,' Mr. Brown, in the internal email, said his superiors told him."
4. Obama administration's intimidation of witnesses in ATF gun probe
Back in 2011, Washington Times' Stephen Dinan and Chuck Neubauer reported that witnesses involved in the House Oversight Committee's probe into the ATF had been subject to intimidation, according to Chairman Darrell Issa.
5. Obama closes private tourist attractions to enhance pain of government shutdown
While 80% of the government was indeed functioning during the government shutdown last fall, the Obama administration took the unusual step of closing privately funded tourist attractions to enhance the fallout of the budget impasse.
Hans Bader wrote at the time that "the government is now renting costly barricades to keep people out of open-air outdoor monuments that don't need to be manned, and are typically open even when unstaffed (like the World War II Memorial). And it has sent Park Police to drive people out of privately-run tourist attractions on public land, like the Claude Moore Colonial Farm, endangering tourism-related jobs in the process." It should be noted that closing down these tourists spots didn't save the government any money, except that it prevented octogenarian WW II vets from paying their respects.
So, it seems like Christie isn't the only one accused of being a bully. Then, again, this is politics - the place where bullies come to play.