Chris Christie Says This Will Never Happen Again, You Guys

Reporting on Politics and Policy.
Jan. 8 2014 5:42 PM

Chris Christie Says This Will Never Happen Again, You Guys

C'mon, you guys.

Photo by Paul J. Richards/AFP/Getty Images

The governor of New Jersey closes out the day, after multiple press conferences by his inquisitors, with a statement that boils down to "everybody lied to me and I had nothing to do with the Fort Lee road closures."

What I've seen today for the first time is unacceptable. I am outraged and deeply saddened to learn that not only was I misled by a member of my staff, but this completely inappropriate and unsanctioned conduct was made without my knowledge. One thing is clear: this type of behavior is unacceptable and I will not tolerate it because the people of New Jersey deserve better. This behavior is not representative of me or my Administration in any way, and people will be held responsible for their actions.

Hopefully, readers of this post will have already read and memorized John Dickerson's take on the story. Here's the key bit:

Christie now faces problems that echo ones this president has faced, most recently in the rollout of the Affordable Care Act: Does he apologize, and how fully? Does he take responsibility for the actions of his aides? Does he admit mistakes? Does he fire someone? Does he increase his famous bluster or does he step back from it? Christie is very good at giving advice on these matters. Now he can show rather than tell.

So he already fired someone, he apologized for something he said he wasn't aware of, and he promised not to "tolerate it." We can contrast this with what his opponents accused him of. State Assemblyman John Wisniewski, who's been running point on the state's investigation, said "either he doesn’t know what’s going on in his front office or they’re lying to him." Outgoing state Sen. Barbara Buono, who lost to Christie last year and who's mentioned in the damning emails (Christie aides blew off concerns about the closures, because they were affecting "the children of Buono voters"), said, "I knew when this first surfaced that he was, you know, he was at the end of that."

They're basically asking that the rules applied to any presidential scandal—you know, the rules about where the buck stops—apply to Christie. Conservative media watchers, annoyed by the scandal, see Christie's way out.

Here's what bothers the right. The president has seemingly skated away from scandal after scandal—the IRS! Benghazi! Fast and Furious!—by saying he had no involvement in any of them. (For our purposes, the "Benghazi scandal" is the accusation that the administration lied about the spontaniety or terror links of the attack in order to win the 2012 election. The president called Benghazi an act of "terror" twice after it happened.) Democrats say they're still digging through the emails—they subpoenaed thousands. Christie says nothing about removing the redactions in some of these emails. But the right is largely inclined to call this overblown, if Christie's actually telling the truth tonight.

David Weigel is a Slate political reporter. 


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