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New Jersey Governor Chris Christie and his administration found themselves in a predicament last Wednesday when the Governor was accused of closing down several lanes of the George Washington Bridge in retaliation to the mayor of Fort Lee, New Jersey who refused to endorse Christie’s gubernatorial reelection campaign (Christie defeated Democrat Barbara Buono by a respectable margin). After a legislative investigation uncovered the scandal, many in the national media have nicknamed it Bridgegate.
So, what exactly is Bridgegate? Bridget Anne Kelly, Christie’s deputy chief of staff, sent an e-mail to a director of the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey which read, in part, “Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee [New Jersey].” Now that this information is public knowledge, many are crying foul.
Three days after the director ordered the lanes to be closed was the first day of the new school year and traffic on the bridge was “maddening”, said Fort Lee Mayor Mark Sokolich.
If you are interested, check online for greater detail in the e-mail correspondence. Christie denies any involvement in the closures. Even so, his handling of the situation is remarkable.
Christie released a statement on January 8 in which he claims he was “misled” by his staffers about the reasoning behind the lane closures. He also says he was “deeply saddened” to learn of such “unacceptable” behavior.
On January 9, Governor Christie held a press conference at which he accepted complete responsibility for the incident that happened under his watch. The Governor also announced that Bridget Kelly had been fired and his campaign manager, Bill Stepien, was also relieved of his responsibilities.
I apologize for the wordy introduction, but the foundation had to be laid for this comparison to work. Here is what is really important: Christie set the standard for political leadership that President Obama has been trying, albeit miserably, to set since 2008. Mr. President, you can learn a little something from Governor Christie.
September 11, 2012. In case you have forgotten, this was the day on which four Americans were mercilessly killed in Benghazi, Libya. Despite requests for greater security (out of fear of such an attack), the American embassy was destroyed, an ambassador was killed, and three other innocent Americans perished. In a speech given from the Rose Garden the following day, President Obama remarked, “And make no mistake, justice will be done.”
Of course, he was speaking in regard to the perpetrators of attack. Despite evidence alleging the State Department mishandled the situation and had the opportunity to prevent such violence, Obama maintained confidence in Secretary of State Clinton and UN Ambassador Rice, who misled the world on the motivation behind the attack.
Now move to 2013. During this year, the American people learned of an unprecedented abuse of power by the IRS. IRS employees inappropriately targeting conservative groups, presumably for the Left’s political gain. The IRS, another branch of the US Executive, is among the President’s many responsibilities. He oversees the organization. Not to anyone’s surprise, the President did little to right this wrong. In fact, instead of firing Lois Lerner, he allowed her to take a paid leave of absence and eventually retire. Lerner defiantly refused to testify in front of Congress….go figure.
Christ Christie fan or not, his response to the issues in New Jersey is admirable. He did not make excuses. He did not run from the hard questions. He apologized, accepted responsibility, and took responsible action by firing those involved. The contrast between Obama and Christie is stark. It is not often we get to praise politicians, but Governor Christie deserves much respect for his actions. Take note, Mr. President.