Most of New Jersey Governor Chris Christie’s nearly two hour long news conference yesterday was spent on apologizing for the wrong thing. Christie correctly apologized and disavowed (over and over) the alleged political shenanigans which closed a bridge and inconvenienced thousands of people in New Jersey and New York over a four day period last year. He deftly navigated questions by reporters with the appropriate amounts of humility, anger and humor.
Christie rightly apologized for the closure of the George Washington Bridge but then left that issue to obsess about how ‘sad’ he was his aides lied to him. He should be sad. He should be angry. To share those emotions with the country displayed a refreshing authenticity. But it eventually came off as self indulgent. YOU hired these people, Governor. The two staffers you dropped from the GW Bridge yesterday were a symptom of an apparent mindset at your office.
There’s an old maxin: Personnel is policy. The people you employ become the embodiment of your choices and priorities. This is something Oregon Governor John Kitzhaber and President Obama should be held to account for as well.
Christie has made the right moves. He’s apologized, stanched the political bleeding and gone, hat-in-hand, to the Mayor of Fort Lee to grovel and ask for forgiveness.
Politico notes GOP pollster Kellyanne Conway’s reaction to Christie’s presser on the pages of National Review,
“Christie made a mistake, apologized, promptly removed those who erred, and resolved to make right a horrible situation,” she wrote. “After eight years of a president who displays no such skills, Americans may hope for a different kind of change.”
True enough. President Obama has set a very low bar for executive skill, grace and decorum in public life. But Christie has no business emulating the president’s well documented personal is policy disasters (Van Jones, John Podesta, Rahm Emanuel, Dr. Holdren to name just a few). If Christie is shocked by his aides’ alleged actions, he needs to find out why people of apparently such low character were in his employ in the first place.