Wednesday, February 10, 2016

The Man Who Altered History

While the Republican New Hampshire primary results were unfolding, I was in a room with the man who was possibly the most responsible for what was transpiring. His name is Mark Sokolich.

It was not too many years back that Chris Christie was the darling of his party. He was practically anointed as the savior in the days and months before the  ascendancy of Mitt Romney. If Christie had wanted it, the Republican crown and sceptre were his for the asking. Even his "hug" with the enemy, in the aftermath of Sandy, was then considered an act of sanity in an otherwise insane political arena. 

All of that changed, and the fortunes of Mr. Christie began to unravel because of Mayor Sokolich. He was the impetus for and intended target of Bridgegate. He was the reason, why a foul mouthed bully not named Christie was riding high in New Hampshire and around the country. He was the reason why the junior Senator from Florida had become the target of the brutal attack of the dying gasps of the also ran Governor of New Jersey. He was, in many ways, responsible for a tectonic shift in the ground beneath us, which allowed the fissure through which Donald Trump emerged.

And yet this evening, in this crowded basement filled with mostly senior citizens was not devoted to a speech on the state of our nation but of our town. Mayor Sokolich, of Fort Lee, explained to the assembled the nooks and crannies not  of the state of disarray of the Republican party but of the development of the 16 acre parcel that sat within a stone's throw of where history was forever altered by the closing lanes of the George Washington Bridge. 

Mr. Sokolich spoke not of his role in matters larger than him, but in matters small, of tax restructuring, of public parks, of actual traffic issues, of pot holes in roads. 

He recalled that this long fallow site had once been the subject of an intended bribe of a different Mayor, of arrests, of witness protection. That attempted altering of the landscape through improper means was a crime even then. But he did not attempt to put those long ago events in the context of what had been done to him, to all of us. He did not seek to draw larger conclusions. 

Only as he readied his exit did he reference what was happening last evening outside this room, outside this town, outside the scope of what we had gathered to consider. And I wondered how he saw himself as impacting on the arc of our country. But I did not ask and he would undoubtedly not have answered. On this night he was not the man who had earned the ire of the bully and set in motion the chain of events which now seemed to alter the landscape of politics, contributed to an overriding distrust for the integrity of the political establishment, led to the demise of the Presidential aspirations of the leader of our state and the apparent derailment of the present aspirations of Mr. Rubio, but was merely the person called upon to calm nerves and provide assurances that the buildings which were rising but a few yards from where the moving of cones had closed much more than traffic were a good thing for our town.

Mark Sokolich walked out of an overcrowded basement eager, as we all were, to find out about much more than the future of our town, but of the destiny of over 300 million people. New Hampshire had proclaimed Trump triumphant and rejected  the man who sought revenge against a small town Mayor who had irritated him. Chris Christie, who had all but abandoned New Jersey and established residence in the Granite state, had been soundly thrashed. 

As he left the room, I shook the hand of the man who had set the chain of events in motion. And I told him what had occurred, giving him the details of the primary vote. I won't tell you his reply. I can only reveal that it might have surprised you.

1 comment:

Michael Gansl said...

Robert, please do not hold us in suspense. Please do tell us what the Mayor said!