Peggy Noonan knows why Bridgegate happened, and it's largely the fault of wet-behind-the-ears kids hopped up on HBO:
... political operatives get high on winning. They start to think nothing can touch them when they're with a winner. They get full of themselves. And they think only winning counts, because winning is their job.Wait -- Noonan's saying that the things you do at age 40 can be written off as childish behavior you haven't grown out of yet? How old do you have to be to be a responsible adult, according to Noonan? And yes, Bridget Anne Kelly is 41. But David Wildstein is 51 -- as is Christie.
The ones who are young lack judgment, but they don't know they lack judgment because they're not wise enough. So they don't check themselves....
Young operatives are ... acting out what they see in a million other movies and shows -- "Scandal," "The Good Wife."
There's a twist on this you can see in the Christie story. You read the emails and texts his operatives were sending, and you realize: This is TV dialogue. It's movie dialogue. They get everything off the screen, not real life, and they're imitating the sound of tough guys.
Those emails and texts, they were "Sopranos" dialogue. "Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee" is pure Tony. "Got it" is pure Silvio. "I feel bad about the kids," is druggy Christopher, or maybe Adriana. "They're the children of Buono voters" is Paulie Walnuts, in all his aggression and stupidity.
Christie operatives are not the only ones in politics who talk this way. And they all do it not because they're really tough but because they think that's how people like them -- rock-'em sock-'em operatives -- would talk. They don't have the brains, heart or judgment of people who've lived a life because they haven't all lived a life. They're 30 or 40 and came of age in a media-saturated country. They saw it all on TV. They saw it on a screen.
And if this kind of tough talk is all HBO's fault, then where did the Watergate plotters -- the guys famously described by Stewart Alsop as "the phony-tough" and "the crazy-brave" -- get their dialogue? Old episodes of The Untouchables? Jim Thompson novels?
(I suppose the guy at the top, Dick Nixon -- who was a youthful 58 at the time of the Watergate break-in -- got the tough attitude from watching movies like Patton.)
All this is like blaming violent video games for mass shootings, despite the fact that millions of people, especially in other, less gun-saturated countries, play violent video games without ever shooting up a grade school, just as millions of people watch The Sopranos and Breaking Bad without ever brutalizing their enemies.
Hey Peggy, whatever happened to personal responsibility?