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Continued: Christie on Christie: Me, myself and I

  • Article by: DANA MILBANK , Washington Post
  • Last update: January 11, 2014 - 4:51 PM

The governor said he fired Bridget Kelly, the aide at the center of the scandal, “because she lied to me” — not because she ordered up a traffic jam that ensnarled thousands, to exact retribution on a political foe.

Christie spoke of the scandal in terms of what it meant — to him: “I am a very sad person ... I probably will get angry at some point, but I got to tell you the truth. I’m sad. I’m a sad guy standing here today.”

Christie accepted responsibility, but only in the technical sense: “I have 65,000 people working for me every day. And I cannot know what each one of them is doing at every minute, but that doesn’t matter. I’m ultimately responsible for what they do.”

Christie invoked the Nixonian “mistakes were made” formulation, but they were not made by him. “There’s no way that anybody would think I know about everything that’s going on, not only in every agency of government at all times, but also every independent authority,” he reasoned.

The excuses flowed as if in their own HOV lane. “I was blindsided yesterday morning. ... That was the first time I knew about this ... I had no knowledge or involvement in this issue, in its planning or its execution. ... I was told this was a traffic study. ... Why would I believe that anybody would not be telling the truth? ... I delegate enormous authority to my staff. ... Mayor Sokolich was never on my radar screen. ... I wouldn’t have been able to pick him out of a lineup. ... Sometimes, despite the best background checks beside, you know, despite the best interviews, despite your best instincts, sometimes people are a mistake hire. ... I probably wouldn’t know a traffic study if I tripped over it.”

The closest Christie came to self-awareness was when he told CNN’s John King that he asked himself “what did I do wrong to have these folks think it was OK to lie to me?”

The answer: not much, if anything.

“I think the history of this administration shows that we have hired outstanding people with great ethical standards who have done their jobs extraordinarily well,” Christie said, and, “I claimed to have the best government I could possibly make,” and, “I’m just trying to be a safe and careful steward of the public trust.”

This certainty of his own infallibility will be more of an impediment to Christie than any lane closures in Fort Lee.

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