I stand by my assessment that Chris Christie’s leadership and management played a role in the retaliatory shutdown of Fort Lee’s access lanes to the George Washington Bridge. Yesterday, I compared the GWB scandal to several Obama scandals. I pointed out that conservatives must apply the same standards to Christie as we did to Obama when the IRS scandal broke.
Today, let’s look at Christie’s response and contrast it to Obama’s.
Christie Fired Somebody Close
Christie fired deputy chief of staff Bridget Anne Kelly within 24 hours of learning of the problem. Contrast that with Obama’s handling of IRS officials and senior White House lawyers. Obama let serial harasser Lois Lerner hang on for months, including months of paid leave, before she retired with full benefits. She wasn’t fired. She wasn’t prosecuted. Nor was senior White House counsel Robert Bauer. Bauer is busy prosecuting people who speak of voter fraud.
Christie Humbled Himself Before the People
When Chris Christie spoke today, he was clearly a man humbled. I’ve had to recite my failings before people whose respect I wanted. It sucks. Christie’s body language, tone of voice, and choice of words all screamed, “I wish I could go hide.” But Christie didn’t hide. He stoop up.
Obama, however, hid. Obama ignored the IRS scandal for weeks. His minions attacked the victims in public. When he spoke, he blamed unnamed GS-zeroes in the Midwest. No one within a thousand miles of the White House earned Obama’s scorn. As far as we know, the people who ordered the hit on the Tea Party got raises. And Obama’s demeanor throughout the ordeal was one of smug arrogance.
Christie Faced the Victims
After Governor Christie’s press conference–which lasted an hour–he went on an apology tour in Fort Lee. He went to Fort Lee’s mayor, a Democrat, to apologize in person–something few Americans do anymore.
Lewis Caroll’s imagination couldn’t conjure up a mental picture of King Obama stooping to apologize in person to victims of his criminal assault on political opponents. Obama isn’t man enough for that kind of humility or decency.
What It Means
I have no idea what it means for Christie’s future. I’m not a big fan of Chris Christie’s politics, and I think the bridge scandal speaks poorly of his judgment of people. And he could be lying about what he knew and when, for all we know.
But Christie demonstrated today how men of character handle embarrassing scandals. He said “I’m sorry,” he showed true contrition and humility, he fired a close adviser, and he apologized to victims face-to-face.
Leaders in business and government should learn from Chris Christie’s example. Christie showed us character in action. I hope it wasn’t an act, but if it was, it was a damn good one.