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He thinks like a lawyer. I know what I'm talking about. I think like a lawyer, too. I am a lawyer. Up until now, it's been a big strength for Governor Christie, too. His career as a big time U.S. Attorney played a big part in the careful image-building public career that preceded his governorship. But now, for Gov. Christie, it's a big problem, the way he thinks, that is, like a lawyer. Because, the way he thinks, makes him think, that there is a way for him to parse and chivvy and jive and talk his way out of this. The end that seems to be coming for him will probably be somewhat Clintonesque, for that reason.

Follow me out into the tall grass for more of what I'm talking about.

For most, the experience of law school results in learning ways of thinking and acting unique to the profession. Trying to explain this transformation of how the World is perceived to anyone who hasn't experienced it might be a little like explaining color to someone born blind to it. Try to visualize it as a display of nodes of various sizes with colored lines running between them of various sizes. Everything is connected and everyone is connected to everything and everyone, properties, places, every kind of relationship imaginable. The entire world is overlain by this matrix. The nodes are subject matter, a person or place or thing. The lines are issues. The colors are the rules. The law touches everything. Most lawyers spend their careers working with just parts of that matrix, called specialties.

Obviously, attorneys vary widely in their skill level of thinking and acting unique to the profession. Some lawyers in the top strata, perhaps Governor Christie, come to believe that they can protect themselves with words because, as they see it, only they see what is going on so much better than anyone else. How else can we explain the way Governor Christie, it is reported today, dealt with the issue of his staff's knowledge of Bridgegate, by rounding them up and ordering:

If there is any information that you know about the decision to close these lanes in Fort Lee, you have one hour to tell either my chief of staff, Kevin O'Dowd, or my chief counsel, Charlie McKenna.

And I told them that in an hour I was going to go out in a press conference. And if no one gave me other information to the contrary that I was going to say that no one on my staff was involved in this matter.

If Governor Christie calculates that O'Dowd and McKenna will fall on their swords for him, he may believe himself safe from proof of guilty knowledge. Governor Christie's subsequent statement and presser continue to follow along this line. Poor Governor Christie, betrayed by his staffer(s) who lied. That got her fired along with the Governor's campaign manager who connived in the Fort Lee malfeasance.

But thinking like a lawyer isn't enough to make a man honest, or fair, or true. And success earned by pandering to jurors' prejudices doesn't necessarily mean you are the best legal thinker, Governor Christie.

Sacrificial lambs are piling up in Bridgegate. Gov. Christie inhabits a political world inhabited by many enemies of his own creation. Now that the admitted misconduct of the Governor's staffer(s) has opened wounds, it will be interesting to see what will show up to feed. In a process like that, words don't mean much after a certain point and that process has barely begun to unfold.

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Comment Preferences

  •  Tip Jar (32+ / 0-)

    "The modern conservative is engaged in one of man's oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness." John Kenneth Galbraith

    by LeftOfYou on Thu Jan 09, 2014 at 08:59:47 PM PST

  •  His biggest weakness (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    petesmom, slipper, Texknight, Dumbo, Tortmaster

    might be in his chest .

    "please love deeply...openly and genuinely." A. M. H.

    by indycam on Thu Jan 09, 2014 at 09:13:44 PM PST

  •  I was going to say it is his arrogance but (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    Ckntfld, a2nite, LeftOfYou

    since he was already identified as a lawyer, it would have been redundant...

    (Sorry LOY, no offense intended to present company)

    "Perhaps the sentiments contained in the following pages, are not YET sufficiently fashionable to procure them general favour..."

    by Buckeye Nut Schell on Thu Jan 09, 2014 at 09:24:07 PM PST

    •  He's an over-reacher. (6+ / 0-)

      Believing himself invulnerable.  A great big ugly thug.  Roaring and cursing.  An inflated head and "pride goeth before destruction and a haughty spirit before a fall.

      Bill Clinton diddled in the White House.  Ho hum, tell me more.  Quite a lad, Bill.

      Christie is the person responsible for that traffic jam I sat through four times?  Off with his head!

    •  Worry not. (0+ / 0-)

      I've been in this racket since the mid-70's and have solid, firm calluses every last place this sort of humor touches. Don't hold back.

      "The modern conservative is engaged in one of man's oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness." John Kenneth Galbraith

      by LeftOfYou on Fri Jan 10, 2014 at 05:52:15 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  He also thinks like a kid (5+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    fumie, Simplify, Chi, a2nite, LeftOfYou
    If there is any information that you know about the decision to close these lanes in Fort Lee, you have one hour to tell either my chief of staff, Kevin O'Dowd, or my chief counsel, Charlie McKenna.
    This circle of trust, look me in the eyes crap seems more like tree house than a court house.

    If cats could blog, they wouldn't

    by crystal eyes on Thu Jan 09, 2014 at 10:10:07 PM PST

  •  And of course a lawyer (7+ / 0-)

    ...never asks a client whether he or she is actually, you know, GUILTY.

    Christie betrayed that when he said he was not interested in asking why Kelly did what she did.  When is a control freak not interested?

    This will get better and better because Christie has painted himself into a corner.  Each new memo will present a new question to be answered, and he has already claimed, "I'm an incompetent buffoon but I am not a crook," as his defense

    Orwell was an optimist.
    My Home Page

    by RepackRider on Thu Jan 09, 2014 at 10:20:26 PM PST

    •  That is not a question for a client to answer. (0+ / 0-)

      To a lawyer, the question of guilt is a question of law requiring specialized ways of thinking to analyze. It's not the client's job to answer that question. It is the lawyer's job to tell, not ask the client whether he or she is guilty, and if so, of what.

      It's like those TV drug commercials that drive me nuts, where they warn "tell your doctor" if you have this disease or that condition or some other diagnosis. I always think, wait a minute, isn't it the doctor who is supposed to tel me?  That only means something for those few of us who have a sustained and following relationship with a particular doctor or group. =Hopefully more people can establish and sustain that kind of medical relationship as the ACA takes hold.

      "The modern conservative is engaged in one of man's oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness." John Kenneth Galbraith

      by LeftOfYou on Fri Jan 10, 2014 at 05:49:04 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Nice description of interconnectedness. (3+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    fumie, a2nite, LeftOfYou

    Though I would say that visualizing the world in such a way isn't lawyerly, but is simple realism. Lowering the minimum wage is connected to the mass of population having spending money, is connected to the performance of the retail sector of the economy, is connected to the performance of those public companies each quarter, is connected to the stock value of those companies, is connected to the level of wealth held by the holders of that stock. Thus reducing the minimum wage will reflect upon crappy sales which will result is lower stock values from disappointing sales numbers etc.

    I would say that lawyer-think is when that interconnected view is taken and overlaid with an artificial control system of laws (more lines of a special color) that are supposed to control behavior through application of restrictions and punishments. As in, an attempt to control harmful intent through application of the punishment of incarceration - such is the law of "Murder is punished by prison terms".

    The pitfall is believing that the law-wires actually do control everything.

    •  That is the "rules" component I describe. (0+ / 0-)
      an artificial control system of laws

      "The modern conservative is engaged in one of man's oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness." John Kenneth Galbraith

      by LeftOfYou on Fri Jan 10, 2014 at 05:41:10 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  How many lambs do you sacrifice before they bleat? (5+ / 0-)

    Any of his cronies that feels betrayed by him, and low-character people are always twitching at any perceived slight, might not show the loyalty Christie's vanity imagines protects him.


    Actual Democrats: the surest, quickest, route to More Democrats. And actually addressing our various emergencies.

    by Jim P on Thu Jan 09, 2014 at 10:57:29 PM PST

    •  We can only hope. (0+ / 0-)

      But maybe fear of the law can provide incentive?

    •  There is an excellent chance you are right. (1+ / 0-)
      Recommended by:
      Jim P

      Both human history and mythology abound with the tragic stories of the Great, laid low by those closest to them. Judas kisses Jesus. Julius Ceasar's list words, Et tu? Brute? as dramatized by Shakespeare. The Godfather teaches Michael to keep his friends close, but his enemies closer. Mubarak engineers Sadat's assassination. An entire federal witness protection  program exists because powerful and dangerous people are always brought down, if they fall, by someone close to them. Before this plays out, in this drama, too, someone close to Christie is going to spill something awful all over him and its going to leave a mess. How bad he will smell afterward remains to be seen.

      "The modern conservative is engaged in one of man's oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness." John Kenneth Galbraith

      by LeftOfYou on Fri Jan 10, 2014 at 05:39:37 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

  •  Very much a "definition of 'is' is" (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    LeftOfYou

    sort of fellow.

    I live under the bridge to the 21st Century.

    by Crashing Vor on Fri Jan 10, 2014 at 07:31:18 AM PST

  •  Thanks. (1+ / 0-)
    Recommended by:
    LeftOfYou

    You gave me insight into my lawyerly ex-husband.  Is this why he always spoke in analogies, even in marriage counseling?

    •  That's insightful of you. (0+ / 0-)

      It reflects how his mind was adjusted to view the world by his peculiar law school training and the nature of  his profession. My children and others are ever exasperated with me because they can't get what seems to them to be a straight answer from me. even though I am being as candid as I know how to be. but we view the world with different decoder rings, and that's the way it is. It's not so much a problem with Mrs. Left, herself a lawyer. I've wondered whether that contributes to the apparent prevalence of lawyer-lawyer matches.  

      "The modern conservative is engaged in one of man's oldest exercises in moral philosophy; that is, the search for a superior moral justification for selfishness." John Kenneth Galbraith

      by LeftOfYou on Fri Jan 10, 2014 at 05:25:39 PM PST

      [ Parent ]

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