If you tell a lie big enough and keep repeating it, people will eventually come to believe it.
— Joseph Goebbels
Paul Krugman likes to argue from the high ground, eschewing the sort of ad hominem attacks I can’t resist making when the subject is Chris Christie, a big man in many ways, from his XXXX-large suits to his elephantine ego to his ability to tell the boldest lies at maximum volume without betraying even a hint of shame.
Today, Krugman noted that Christie often speaks of the importance of “acting responsibly, but may actually be the least responsible governor [New Jersey] has ever had.” He mentioned the recent report from the Government Accountability Office that proves Christie lied about costs in order to create an excuse for canceling construction of the New Jersey-New York rail tunnel. Krugman used the report as a springboard for a larger point:
But while it’s important to document Mr. Christie’s mendacity, it’s even more important to understand the utter folly of his decision. The new report drives home just how necessary, and very much overdue, the tunnel project was and is. Demand for public transit is rising across America, reflecting both population growth and shifting preferences in an era of high gas prices. Yet New Jersey is linked to New York by just two single-track tunnels built a century ago — tunnels that run at 100 percent of capacity during peak hours. How could this situation not call for new investment?
Right. Is any East Coast state more desperately in need of better public transportation options than New Jersey, with its dense population and daunting tangle of roads and highways? Does anyone believe Christie’s policies – killing the tunnel project, cutting school budgets, maximizing corporate tax breaks, and so on — are meant to do anything more than benefit his wealthiest constituents and impress Republican power brokers when he runs for president in 2016, or maybe for VP this year?
What’s impressive about Christie is not that he lies — all politicians do — but rather that he has mastered the art of the big lie, to advance policies that are, as Krugman put it, “completely at odds with New Jersey’s needs.”
If you’re going to lie, lie big. Public sector unions are ruining the economy. Public school teachers are too well paid. Public transportation systems are too expensive. The scared and demoralized “middle class” will believe you, at least until they figure out you’ve dug for them an even deeper hole than they were in before they elected you.
Footnote: I didn’t hear anything today from the organizers of the proposed Chris Christie 100-Yard Walk. I wonder if they were putting me on again.