Toto has drawn back the curtain and now we can see the wizard for who he really is. The "Bridge-Gate" scandal that has now blown up in New Jersey's Governor's Chris Christie face has come to a head today at his press conference. Amidst the canned talking points about "sadness" and "callous indifference" it is easy to miss the larger points that should be made. Chris Christie has now clearly demonstrated his complete inability to be a candidate for President of the United States.
The first reason is now we can safely conclude that as a leader, Chris Christie is woefully inadequate. I may find it ridiculous to believe that Christie knew nothing until yesterday, given his history as a tight fisted controlling administrator, but the alternative is not much brighter for the wannabe presidential candidate. The alternative is that the chief executive of the state was oblivious to egregious examples of abuses of power right under his nose. Bridget Anne Kelly was not some flunky on his staff. She was the Deputy Chief of Staff. The story Christie offered today, as he fired Ms. Kelly, is one of someone who was "blindsided" by a story that everyone else in the country was apparently more aware of than he. Could you imagine if a top aide to President Obama had such an email exchange on a federal level? Could you imagine the cries for impeachment? Chris Christie wants us to believe that he knew nothing about this until yesterday. As far-fetched as that may be, let us give Christie the benefit of the doubt. The problem for him is that in giving him the benefit of doubt we must conclude that as an executive he cannot even control his own office.
The second reason is the rank arrogance he displayed in this case, which is a staple of his administration. Christie tried today to preserve this false image of someone who is just "blunt" and "people don't like that." He is not merely blunt however. He is not just someone who tells the truth "as he sees it." He is not just a bully. He is an arrogant leader who does not want to consider that he might possibly be wrong and who clearly does not consider the opinions of others. Realize that this story did not break yesterday. It broke four months ago. It took four months for the emails to come forth but the knowledge of the problem in Fort Lee had been know by the Governor for several months. What exactly did Governor Christie do with that time? Did he open up an internal investigation to determine why for four days one of his communities was forced into this traffic nightmare? No. He not only did not seem to care that the event occurred but he mocked the entire incident by joking that he was in charge of putting the cones out in the closed lanes. He then marginalized the reporter who dared to ask the question. He did so arrogantly, presumptively, and with complete callous indifference towards the people who were affected. Chris Christie said that he was embarrassed and humiliated. He said he asked himself how this could have happened. But he is asking the question solely in light of the emails and not in what he did prior to them coming out.
Chris Christie only exists within the context of himself. Today's press conference only solidified that. His apology was not about the people of Fort Lee. His apology was not about the 91 year old woman who passed away, possibly related to the traffic. His apology was related solely to the fact that he was betrayed and lied to. Poor Chris Christie. Somehow, a four day traffic nightmare which was purposefully orchestrated by someone directly under him and affected entire swaths of New Jersey residents, was really all about Chris Christie. Over and over again he wanted us to know how sad he was today. He claimed today that he is just trying to be a faithful steward of the public trust but the reality of this story shows that he is clearly not because the public trust only mattered to him when the smoking gun was revealed. Because that is when it directly affected him. God help us if we ever had a President who was so self absorbed and arrogant. The people of this country deserve better. Unfortunately for the people of New Jersey, so do they.