New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie’s press conference this week was almost as windy as Hurricane Sandy. The smack-talking governor did a commendable job explaining what he didn’t know. Earning the media’s praise for apologizing and chatting with reporters for two hours may have felt good at the time, but crisis managers such as myself, know that the afterglow from romancing the media would not last. The focus would shift to what he didn’t explain, rather than what he repeatedly repeated about his lack of involvement. For instance, when the traffic jam actually became a public problem, why didn’t the governor step up and correct it. He’s not shy and afraid to take bold steps. And since his staffer and his Port Authority appointee were able to create it so quickly and effectively, surely the governor could have shut it down just as fast.
Why does the paper trail generated by those involved, contain chit chat about retribution against the mayor who supposedly refused to endorse candidate Christie during his reelection? And why on earth would Christie’s staff, whom he referred to as “family,” feel comfortable actually implementing a scheme in the first place and one with such epic potential of becoming so politically destructive?
What Christie did say is that he’s “not angry” -- yet. And he’s “not a bully.” This is the same guy who called a reporter stupid and pretty much told a constituent to mind her own business when she asked about where the little Christies went to school. If a mild-mannered voter can tick him off so easily, then why isn’t he mad that his trusted staffers betrayed him as well as the folks trapped at the GW Bridge?
Gov. Christie is smart, always entertaining and consistently validates the Jersey stereotype of being bombastic, hostile and rude to anyone deemed deserving. That’s part of his charm and just being from freakin’ Jersey. In spite of his two-hour Q&A with news media, Gov. Christie's defense fell short, leaving us with more unanswered questions than facts. And his persona of being a straight talker and the politician’s non-politician has lost its luster.
The governor needs to stick to the facts, stop schmoozing with news media – spending hours with them will not prevent them from turning and with great vigor if he doesn’t explain his contribution to a work environment where retribution and activating political dirty tricks at the expense of ordinary citizens is okay. Stop talking and get to work on this.
No one believes that he isn’t considering a run for president. That plan may have hit a roadblock. This mess is growing and getting worse. Running for president? He’ll have to cross that bridge when he gets to it.