Radley Balko was kind enough to add a comment to my post taking issue with him, and I do promise a response. (I still think he is wrong, but I need to take some time to formulate my thoughts.) In any case, he reminded me of why I like his blog: his take on the Corzine accident is exactly right. Instead of castigating Corzine for not wearing his seat belt, Balko points out that his SUV was driving 91 miles per hour on the Garden State Parkway. And it would appear, at least if the report he cites is correct, that the excessive speed was the cause of the accident.
When he left himself unbuckled, Corzine endangered himself, and he is now paying the consequences for that. I think he was stupid for not wearing his seat belt, but I think he had the right to make that choice, nanny-state seat belt laws notwithstanding. But when he travelled along a reasonably-busy highway at over ninety miles per hour, he endangered innocent people. Like Radley I doubt that he told his driver to ignore normal traffic rules, but I wouldn't be at all surprised to learn he said "I'm late, step on it," or words to that effect. Even if he said nothing, he certainly could tell that his vehicle was moving over the speed limit, and he is the governor -- he could have told his driver to slow down and obey traffic laws. But he didn't.
I know he's hurt, and I don't wish anybody ill -- I hope that Governor Corzine makes a full recovery. At the same time, however, he endangered everybody else on that road, so that he could attend a meeting between -- wait for it -- Imus and the Rutgers Women's Basketball Team. That's right. Corzine endangerd other people's lives to be present at an utterly unimportant meeting.
Now Balko is a classy guy, and he doesn't want to single Corzine out. Not being as classy as Balko, I think that Corzine should be hammered over this. The truth is that Jon Corzine doesn't give a shit about those girls or Imus's offense -- he was going to the meeting for purely political reasons. Fine! That's what politicians do. But it's not important enough to disrupt traffic and make other people late, much less endanger their lives. His revealed preferences show that he ranks a minor political stunt as being more important than the lives of his constituents.
And yeah, Balko is right -- other politicians do it too. It trickles down, because politicians get "motorcade envy." Balko cites a case where the Mayor of D.C. got criticized for blowing through stoplights to make it to a political fundraiser. The truth is, it's fun to go to the head of the line. I've gone to amusement parks and purchased front-of-line passes, and I admit to taking a certain childish pleasure in the fact that other people had to wait while I got right on. The difference, of course, is that I paid extra for the privilege. Politicians like to be in motorcades with sirens blazing and cars pulling over for them because it's fun, and it makes them feel important and powerful.
But unless we're talking about the President or Vice President -- who really do have legitimate security concerns -- it is a pleasure they should be denied, except in an actual emergency. (Being late to a meeting does not count.) The Mayor of D.C. should have to navigate through D.C. traffic, just like the rest of us. And if Governor Corzine think that 65 is too slow on the Garden State Parkway, well maybe he should look into raising the speed limit.