And so Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ) is finally pointing fingers at David Wildstein and others on his staff for the traffic disaster which we now know was intentional. And this morning, I see he's holding a press conference that looks like he's firing his deputy chief of staff. (I couldn't precisely tell -- I was walking through the Venetian Hotel on the way to the CES pressroom, and the news conference was playing on a big screen. The oddest thing of all this is that a big screen in a Las Vegas hotel casino actually was showing news and not sports...)
There's been a lot of focus as a result of the famous "what did he know and when did he know it" surround Mr. Christie. They're important questions to ask and discover. Particularly since one of the things scrolling by on the screen was a quote from Chris Christie saying something like, "How can I ask the public to trust someone if I can't trust that person?" Particularly since that person is his deputy chief of staff who ordered the controversal closings. Given that there's some uncertainty about what Gov. Christie himself knew and when he knew it and what he said to the public when he did know, it's a good quote to remember. But one other thing stood out to me throughout all this the last two days, even if the governor knew absolutely nothing from the start or throughout the questioning process.
It wasn't just that Gov. Christie has consistently denied knowledge and any involvement -- it was that, as is his standard operating procedure, he was belligerent, pompous, snarky and a mean-spirited bully to the press asking questions, ridiculing them for even addressing the situation, as if they were idiotic fools. That's what he does. It gets a lot of press, and has gotten him some support over the years, for being "real" and a fighter. Well, no, it's not real or tough, it's bullying. It's using the power of the office to humiliate others into submission. Who knows how often it's worked in the past, and real issues have been covered up and lost. And it could have been here. But thankfully, enough people realized that this was a very real problem that deserved questions, and they didn't give up.
So, I just hope that the next time Chris Christie tries to bully the press or anyone, people don't find it adorable any more. It's very problematic. Hopefully, this will be enough of a wake-up call and chastening that he won't try it again, though if I had to make a guess, I suspect he will. Unless he does a mea culpa about being a bully, he'll likely still be a bully. But we'll see. That said, next time I also suspect reporters will be ready and prepared, and will remind him and everyone about that other time when Chris Christie tried to minimize through humiliation a real, and serious question.
And that's on the assumption that Chris Christie knew nothing about the situation and only just now found out the truth. A truth that a great many people presumed and the governor "apparently" didn't.
If he didn't just find out, then he might have some other tough question to answer. So, he'd better start storing up his snarky answers. Though they won't help him much in this case, I expect...
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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