Last November, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie sat down with CNN’s Jake Tapper to discuss President Barack Obama’s infamous promise that if you like your health care plan, you can keep it.
Tapper asked Christie what type of advice he would give Obama on how to handle the widening Obamacare scandal. Tapper specifically wanted to know what Christie thought of Obama’s revisionist mansplaining of how the “if you like your plan” promise really worked.
Here's what my suggestion would be to him: Don't be so cute. And when you make a mistake: admit it.
Now listen, if it was a mistake in 2009 -- if he was mistaken in 2009/2010 on his understanding of how the law would operate -- then just admit it to people. "You know what, I said it, I was wrong. I'm sorry, and we're going to try to fix this and make it better." I think people would give any leader in that circumstance a lot of credit for just, you know owning up to it, instead of now trying to, like, don't lawyer it. People don't like lawyers. I'm a lawyer. They don't like 'em, you know. And don't lawyer it. And when I saw that this morning -- I saw that this morning for the first time -- and I thought, "He's lawyering it. That's Barack Obama the lawyer."
“If it was a mistake…then just admit it to people.”
Thus far, Christie appears to be blatantly ignoring his own advice on how to handle a corruption scandal that could imperil his 2016 presidential campaign hopes. Instead of taking ownership of his staff’s blatant abuse of power in deliberately gumming up traffic to punish Christie’s political foes, Christie has repeatedly not just denied responsiblity, but denied that there’s anything to be responsible for.
Andrew McCarthy, who just like Christie is a veteran of the U.S. attorney’s office, wrote about Christie’s continued dissembling at NRO this morning:
Back on December 23, Christie held an “Ask the Governor” townhall-style radio meeting conducted by the local station, NJ 101.5 FM. He was pointedly asked about the so-called Bridgegate scandal.
By way of background, when the GWB lanes that caused massive traffic delays were closed, the Christie-appointed Port Authority deputy director claimed, falsely, that this was done in connection with a PA “traffic study.” The “Ask the Governor” radio host, Eric Scott, asked Christie whether he had seen the study. The governor responded with the now-familiar back-of-the-hand gruffness he deploys when asked questions he does not want to answer: “No. What do I care?” (This can be seen on a video the radio station has released, at about the two-minute-mark of the 3.5 minute clip.) [...] Because, Christie explained at another point in the radio meeting, he had already looked thoroughly into the matter with the help of his staff. “I’ve asked my staff to give me a full briefing,” he told Scott and listeners. “They’ve told me everything that we know. None of this makes sense; it’s all about politics. None of it makes sense.”
That type of response, which is the exact opposite of admitting a mistake, has been indicative of Christie’s attitude towards the scandal: There’s no scandal, and even if there was, it’s all politics.
As I wrote yesterday, there are a number of reasons why this scandal could ultimately be Christie’s undoing (there are also a number of ways it could blow over and be a non-issue). Reason #2 was “It’s not the crime; it’s the cover-up.”
If Christie demanded a “full investigation” which conveniently (and erroneously) cleared him and all his friends of any wrongdoing, then that fact alone calls into question his ability to manage the day-to-day responsibilities of overseeing basic government activities. But what if he didn’t demand anything? What if there was no investigation at all? What if he simply never cared enough to scratch more than a millimeter below the surface?
It’s those types of nagging questions, and not the traffic jam itself, that will continue to dog Christie until he comes clean on what actually transpired under his nose.