I’m watching Chris Christie’s mea-kinda-culpa press conference in response to the growing George Washington Bridge shutdown scandal.
And I’m hearing Chris Christie express surprise and shock and anger at the fact that his deputy chief of staff coordinated the vindictive action in order to punish a local mayor who didn’t support Christie’s re-election.
And I think Christie is missing the elephant in the room.
A man with a temperament that is infamous for being explosively angry and defensive is surprised that his staff got the message, somehow, that they strike out at people in an explosive and angry way.
I worked in the US Senate for five years as a legislative attorney. And one thing I learned early on was that, as the old (incorrect) adage goes, the fish rots from the head down. In the case of politics, every time I dealt with nice staffers, they had a nice boss. And the nasty bitter staffers? They had a nasty bitter boss. In Stevens office, where I worked, we were tenacious bordering on a tad a-holic. And guess how the boss was?
Christie said during the press conference today that he’s not a bully. But of course he is. Anyone watching the man in action can tell that there’s a seething anger here that we all recognize. Maybe we’ve seen it in our fathers, or in our bosses, or simply in the crazy guy in the car behind us that gets ticked off that we didn’t start moving fast enough after the light turned green. Chris Christie is a supremely angry man. And we’re expected to be surprised that his staff got the message.
Here’s an 8 second snippet of Christie from this morning’s press conference about the bridge shutdown, calling on some reporter named Michaewl. Note the overall tone, and especially his face and body language.
PS As an aside, Christie’s response to allegations that he was behind this vindictive abuse of authority is that he’s going to interview his staff again – staff that lied to him repeatedly. But that doesn’t get to the bottom of the question of whether Christie himself was behind this. Who is going to interview Gov. Christie? It might just be the US Attorney.