The media is abuzz over the politically motivated lane blockades that came from a staffer in Governor Chris Christie’s office. This feeding frenzy is not unexpected as they have spent a lot of time defending the President’s ignorance of various crises and now we have a conservative politician who didn’t know it was happening – payback time.
So how did Chris Christie deal with this?
1. He publicly apologized and took ownership of the issue which means that he believes the actions of his team are his own.
2. He swiftly and decidedly held the aide accountable and fired her.
3. He faced the press squarely, took hard questions, and didn’t try to shift the blame.
Obviously, Christie’s textbook response to a political crisis invited comparison to President Obama. So how does Obama typically respond to crises?
1. He denies knowledge and therefore takes no responsibility and blames his opponents.
2. He does not hold his people accountable. In some cases, he promotes them.
3. He stays away from difficult press questions, leaving that to Jay Carney, White House spokesperson.
But Governor Christie understands something that many liberal politicians do not – your public trust is far more important than your political trust. This is how you lead a country that is split down the middle politically and get things done in a bipartisan way.
While some may accuse him of lying, it is only an accusation and won’t stick. Christie’s actions are not consistent with someone who is lying because you don’t fire the person who could spill the beans on you; you shield them and spend political capital to protect them to protect yourself.
He also understands that if you don’t deal directly with a crisis, it will never go away and will likely come back to bite you. This crisis will quickly drop off the news cycle in the absence of any facts. He took ownership and dealt with the fury of an unrelenting press, intentionally leaving himself with no place to hide so that the public knows that the issue is resolved.
But spying on press, Benghazi, IRS, NSA, Fast and Furious and Obamacare are all crises that aren’t going to go away when the website gets fixed or whatever band-aid is applied. There are far too many unanswered questions and too many things that have gone wrong that no one has stepped forward to claim responsibility. And with the lying about Obamacare, the public won’t trust anything now but the truth and facts. Presidential assurances will no longer be enough.