New Jersey’s Governor Jon Corzine was barreling along the Garden State Parkway last Thursday, intent on stealing some of the limelight from Don Imus and the Rutgers basketball team. Then his SUV crashed. An earlier, less atheistic age would have attributed this to divine justice, but we live in arrogant times.
Perhaps the only trait more disgusting than politicians’ existence is their eagerness to capitalize on other people’s pain. Whether you sympathize with the shock jock or the black jocks in this controversy, you’ve got to resent Corzine’s insinuating himself into their feud. Still, his offer to "mediate" was predictable: whenever the media waves microphones about, politicians try their best to corner a few. Corzine also benefitted from a ready excuse since the offended team plays for one of New Jersey’s public universities. On the other hand, Imus earns his megabucks in New York, fiefdom of Gov. Eliot Spitzer. Either Spitzer isn’t as astute as Corzine or these two preposterous politicos bargained in some smoke-free backroom ("Yo, Spitz, lemme have this one, and next time it’s yours, I swear, even if he disses Springsteen!").
Corzine offered more than just mediation: he also threw in the governor’s mansion as a rendezvous. You might think a team of "talented…student-athletes [who] have worked extremely hard on and off the basketball court" would prefer a location on campus to minimize the time taken from studying and dribbling. Rutgers surely abounds in such sites since it’s "one of the nation’s major state universities" with 50,000 students and three campuses. Alas, all its auditoriums, gymnasia, and dining halls — even the 8000-seat "Louis Brown Athletic Center" that’s "home to the Rutgers men’s and women’s basketball programs" — seem to have been occupied of a Thursday night. Thank God, Corzine came through with the improbably named Drumthwacket.
I’m sure the governor realizes "his" mansion actually belongs to the good people of New Jersey who bought it and pay its enormous bills. A Greek Revival palace on 12 acres, Drumthwacket boasts a central hall and two vast wings, with a "dining room, parlor, music room, library, …Governor’s study…[and a] solarium, gateway to the lovely Drumthwacket gardens." Taxpayers anxious to assure themselves that the governor lives in a style to which they aspire should allow 45 minutes to tour his digs. Nor should they presume they’re anyone special just because their dollars keep the place going. Rather, they’ll be viewed with all the contempt and suspicion accorded poor relatives. They must make a reservation, naturally, with "complete names, addresses and telephone numbers of everyone in the group." Guests divulge this info in vain since the State, that master of deceit, assumes they’re lying: "photo ID is required and will be verified by the State Police officers on duty."
The "talented student-athletes" apparently had all their papers in order last week because they were admitted to Drumthwacket. There they met with Imus. No doubt, the shock jock keenly felt Corzine’s absence: how a guy who gabs for a living managed to speak without a governor’s "mediating" for him remains a mystery.
While the apologies and tears flowed, the state troopers who always follow Corzine’s SUV were pulling him and the cop who chauffeurs him from their smashed vehicle. Corzine broke "[a] leg, six ribs, his sternum and a vertebra." When "…asked whether Mr. Corzine was lucky to be alive," his doctor trotted where the question led and said yes. Popular wisdom insists that’s because Corzine refused to wear his seat belt, despite New Jersey’s law and its draconian enforcement. On this issue, too, Corzine has long showed the cunning that won him New Jersey’s highest office. He may despise seat belts, but he knows most voters don’t: "The multimillionaire Corzine, a Democrat, has been a strong advocate for [so-called] seat-belt safety," the New York Post tells us. "In 2001, during his term as a [US] senator from New Jersey, he introduced a bill that would force states to require all children under 16 to wear seat belts at all times in vehicles — or face loss of federal transportation funds."
Imagine the penalties should we serfs neglect to buckle up after climbing into a car not only driven but trailed by troopers! Yet "Col. Joseph R. Fuentes, superintendent of the New Jersey State Police" is praising Corzine’s driver: "Trooper [Robert] Rasinski did u2018an excellent job handling the situation, considering that a car swerved into his path.’" A less charitable boss would censure Rasinski for abetting Corzine’s lawlessness.
Oh, pshaw, says Tom Shea, Corzine’s chief of staff. Guys who set the rules need not abide by them: “I don’t want to speak to what the job of the state trooper would be, but those of you who know Governor Corzine know he’s not always amenable to suggestion.” Whoa-ho! So Jersey’s laws are mere "suggestions"? Try that one out the next time a cop pulls you over on I-80: "Hey, look, I’m just not amenable to suggestion, OK?"
Shea continued, "If [Corzine wasn’t wearing a belt], he certainly should have been…" He magnanimously added, "And we would encourage the State Police to issue a citation."
Funny, they never have to encourage them to cite us.
Becky Akers [send her mail] writes primarily about the American Revolution.