My good friend Bruce wrote well about the New Jersey highway experience when he sang about riding through mansions of glory in suicide machines. Of course, that was before the Turnpike, when Highway 9 was the road of choice. But that's besides the point.
The point is, New Jersey's governor almost put the suicide back in the machine the other day.
Maybe it's that I was in Jersey when it happened and in Pennsylvania for the few days afterward but why is this story not bigger news 'round here?
You've got Governor Jon Corzine, a gazillionaire who is already interesting just because he's spent millions to buy a Senate seat and a Governor's mansion. But on Friday, Corzine was being driven by a Jersey Statie on the way to the mansion. He was on his way to help host the oh-so-newsworthy meeting between Don Imus and the Rutgers women's hoop team Imus made the focus of his latest racial tirade.
A pickup cut off one car that knocked into the Gov's SUV, sending it careening into the guardrail. Governor's in critical with no less than half his ribs broken, his sternum cracked, a collarbone broken and his femur - the biggest bone in the body, cracked ... twice. Yeesh.
But the topper here is the Gov wasn't wearing his seatbelt. Why is this such a tantilizing fact? Because Jersey was the second state to require seatbelt use by law (next to my home state, the ever-ahead-of-the-curve New York, I believe) and one of the first to allow coppers to pull you over just for failing to belt up.
For now, the story is rightly about the Gov's health and recovery. Tonight's reports say he's still not out of the woods yet, is still on a ventilator and might need more surgery.
But, already, questions are being asked about why the Gov wasn't belted up. As they should. Corzine's chief of staff joked, sorta, that people don't usually tell the Governor what to do. But what about the state trooper driving his car - isn't it his duty to protect the Governor? Yes, and not just by driving carefully, by making sure he isn't the target of an assassin's bullet or whatever. He's supposed to keep the Govenror safe, even if it means safe from himself. That same chief of staff joked, again sorta, that the trooper perhaps should have ticketed the Governor. Funny, real funny.
The truth is, there probably isn't much a trooper could do if Governor Seatbelt wants to throw his own life away. Same as the morons who don't wear helmets on motorcycles. I usually chalk something like that up to natural selection. And I guess that kind of behavior extends to Governors too. Sad but true.