Chris Christie's has fired key people and apologized. That's not good enough. He says, "I'm responsible for this. The buck stops at my desk."
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It's not good enough because Christie put the people who conspired to punish political opponents into power. Christie gave them the free rein and trust to operate independently.
The abuses of the citizenry happened because of the decisions and judgment made by Chris Christie. He says that the behavior and language used in the emails was not acceptable. But he created the milieu. He formed the team. He set the values and guidelines. This abuse of power fulminated out of a culture of contempt and arrogance, of nastiness and meanness that did not just pop out of nowhere.
Christie says he was told it was a traffic study. We don't know if he knew or not. We don't know if he is lying. It doesn't matter. Leaders are accountable. Christie says, "I delegate enormous authority to my staff... I do not manage in that kind of micro way." This is a confession of guilt. This is an acknowledgement that his style of leadership produced this shameful behavior.
CNN reports, in an email press release,
" September lane closures near the George Washington Bridge connecting New Jersey to Manhattan snarled traffic for days in Fort Lee, New Jersey -- an event that was not only inconvenient but also potentially delayed emergency services, endangering people's lives, New Jersey state Sen. Ray Lesniak told CNN's 'New Day.'"
It is not enough that he fire the people who perpetrated the actions. Those people should be prosecuted. I'm not a lawyer, but abusing the power of government the way these people did should be illegal. Christie, if he's really going to go all the way in trying to clear his name, should invite the independent appointment of an independent body to investigate this, with the intention of prosecuting and jailing the perpetrators.
When protestors disrupt traffic the police arrest them. Protesters are engaging in civil disobedience, knowing they are at risk of being arrested, jailed and fined. The people Christie has fired did something far worse. Christie, as governor, probably has the power to order the state police to arrest and charge these people who have left him "heartbroken, incredibly disappointed and ... just stunned." He says he hasn't gotten to the anger stage yet. That is very telling. How could a leader who has purportedly had his trust betrayed, by people who abuse thousands of citizens, not be furious and outraged?
Frankly, there's no way Christie can apologize his way out of this situation. He failed. But his failure to go all the way in making the perpetrators accountable will absolutely show his true colors.
If we the people and the media cut Christie slack on this, as I'm pretty sure people like David Gregory and the folks at Fox News will do, then we will be setting a precedent where the old canard of using "plausible deniability," which has been used in countless movies, can be pulled up and used for the most heinous, egregious abuses.
Saying "I didn't know" is not acceptable.
Update From the NY Times:
" The United States attorney for New Jersey, Paul J. Fishman, opened an inquiry after the matter was referred to the office by the inspector general for the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey, which controls the bridge."
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