Favorite

Christie, Darr blew apologies 

Chris Christie and Mark Darr are loudmouthed, corn-fed politicians whose unbridled ambitions took a dive last week owing to failures that they considered trifling to the point of silliness.

Do they have anything else in common other than enjoying the honorific "Governor," a shared political party and the fact that by week's end they seemed to offer mournful apologies for the misdeeds?

Darr lost a minor state job in a state on the margins of the political universe while Christie is fighting to keep his job as governor of a seaboard state and as the leading contender for the Republican nomination for president in 2016. But they are in sync on this: their bungled apologias for what had happened to or by them. And they had many, many examples from recent political history to draw lessons from.

Christie knew the big lesson — be totally honest and repentant — but he just couldn't do it. He may yet survive — he will for sure in New Jersey, where bluff and swagger are admired — to confront Hillary Rodham Clinton in the 2016 election, but I doubt it.

As a politician who once got into trouble explained it to me, here is one lesson from political scandals big and small: If the average guy can imagine himself under some conditions doing what you did, he will forgive you if you are straight up and sorry about it. That includes robbing a bank.

Darr got caught cheating on his campaign and government accounts to the tune of about $40,000. He apparently needed the money but he couldn't explain it that way. He said that he was not smart enough to know that he was violating the law, which was entirely credible, but he blamed others for not telling him and whined that the people who exposed his cheating were the bad guys for treating him so shabbily.

Christie or his friends shut down a whole city, Fort Lee, for four days to pay back one or two local officials who had not supported him, stalling workers, schoolchildren and ambulances for hours each day at the foot of the world's busiest bridge and then chortled over their plight. The children stranded for hours on frigid buses were just the spawn of Democrats. Few people can imagine themselves ever doing anything that callous.

Many are the politicians who perished for trifling misdeeds and few who survived. The other party offers instructive examples. In 1988, Sen. Joe Biden, a rising candidate for president, was caught plagiarizing a speech by the British Labor Party leader. He apologized and withdrew, returning 20 years later for another race, which won him the vice presidency. Sen. Gary Hart, after a lot of hectoring by the press about his suspected womanizing in 1988, got caught and quit presidential politics, for good.

And there's Bill Clinton. When a nightclub singer announced in the middle of his presidential campaign in 1992 that she had once had a fling with him, he appeared on television with his wife deeply penitent and she pronounced him forgiven. Voters did, too. When the whole play, this time with a White House intern, was re-enacted, including the penitence, at the end of his presidency, Clinton left office with soaring approval ratings.

The George Washington Bridge caper is not so easily forgiven as Gennifer Flowers, or whoever Bill Clinton had dalliances with, although the Clinton and Christie foul-ups both seemed to be personality patterns. Christie is famous, even admired, in New Jersey for swagger and hardball politics. Political enemies, even mild public critics, are made to pay. The stories about Christie employing the power of government for political payback are legion. He repeatedly vetoed a small line-item appropriation from the health budget for post-partum depression treatment because a sufferer of the ailment, the wife of a political opponent, had championed it.

For months after the bridge donnybrook, while reports circulated that the governor's office had ordered the lane closures on the bridge to punish Fort Lee's Democratic mayor for refusing to endorse Christie for re-election, Christie scoffed and said it was much ado about nothing. When emails surfaced showing that his deputy chief of staff, his friends at the Port Authority and his campaign manager, adviser and candidate for Republican state chairman were all involved in the intentional traffic snarl, Christie changed.

He held a tearful press conference and apologized profusely, but it was not a Clinton performance. He said he did nothing wrong and, indeed, he was the victim. Two friends at the Port Authority had already quit and he severed his association with his campaign manager and fired his deputy chief of staff, a mother of four who had sent the message to the Port Authority that it was time to implement the plan to punish the people of Fort Lee. Christie called her "stupid" and "deceitful."

Christie was credited in the media with a bravura performance but most viewers, I think, sensed that he, not Bridget Anne Kelly, was the deceitful one. He said that when he realized his office was involved he worked tirelessly to get to the bottom of it. But he clearly had done nothing to get to the bottom of it besides making a blanket request one day for staff members to volunteer within one hour if they knew what the Fort Lee problem was all about. He refused to even talk to any of the four friends and associates who clearly were involved because he did not want to be reminded of how things worked. It is the standard rule of leadership. The man at the top must be able to preserve deniability. If Kelly or any of the others, under oath, ever decide to betray their loyalty and explain how things worked, Christie can be shocked.

People remember the class bully from school. No matter how smart he is, they don't want him to be president. Christie's many foes in his party will have no trouble putting Chris Christie's face on the bully.

Favorite

From the ArkTimes store

Speaking of...

Comments

Subscribe to this thread:

Add a comment

More by Ernest Dumas

  • Trusting

    It is a Fourth of July ritual to appraise where we are in meeting the Declaration of Independence's promise to institute a government that would, unlike King George, secure human rights equally for everyone who sets foot on American soil.
    • Jul 6, 2017
  • Obamascare

    Republicans at long last may be about to see their most fervent wishes and wildest predictions materialize — millions of people losing their medical and hospital coverage, unaffordable insurance, lost jobs, a Medicare financial crisis, mushrooming federal budget deficits and fiscal crises across state governments.
    • Jun 22, 2017
  • Ethics upended

    Every week, Donald Trump finds another way to upend conventional ethics in government and politics. Here's one that has been in the making since the campaign but is reaching maturity in the Russian investigation: He is turning the heroes of government scandals into the villains.
    • Jun 15, 2017
  • More »

Readers also liked…

  • AEC dumps ALEC

    No matter which side of the battle over global warming you're on, that was blockbuster news last week. No, not the signing of the climate-change treaty that commits all of Earth's 195 nations to lowering their greenhouse-gas emissions and slowing the heating of the planet, but American Electric Power's announcement that it would no longer underwrite efforts to block renewable energy or federal smokestack controls in the United States.
    • Dec 17, 2015
  • No tax help for Trump

    The big conundrum is supposed to be why Donald Trump does so well among white working-class people, particularly men, who do not have a college education.
    • Aug 11, 2016
  • Dollars and degrees

    Governor Hutchinson says a high graduation rate (ours is about the lowest) and a larger quotient of college graduates in the population are critical to economic development. Every few months there is another, but old, key to unlocking growth.
    • Aug 25, 2016

Most Shared

Latest in Ernest Dumas

  • The ACA can be fixed

    Majority Leader Mitch McConnell threatened his 51 disciples in the Senate and his party with the gravest injury imaginable.
    • Jul 13, 2017
  • Trusting

    It is a Fourth of July ritual to appraise where we are in meeting the Declaration of Independence's promise to institute a government that would, unlike King George, secure human rights equally for everyone who sets foot on American soil.
    • Jul 6, 2017
  • Obamascare

    Republicans at long last may be about to see their most fervent wishes and wildest predictions materialize — millions of people losing their medical and hospital coverage, unaffordable insurance, lost jobs, a Medicare financial crisis, mushrooming federal budget deficits and fiscal crises across state governments.
    • Jun 22, 2017
  • More »

Event Calendar

« »

July

S M T W T F S
  1
2 3 4 5 6 7 8
9 10 11 12 13 14 15
16 17 18 19 20 21 22
23 24 25 26 27 28 29
30 31  

Most Recent Comments

  • Re: Another Jesus

    • Sorry, I have never written about Hillary Clinton's "blunders" in Benghazi. Since you call them…

    • on July 25, 2017
  • Re: Another Jesus

    • IBS, were you there in Benghazi to personally witness all of Hillary's blunders like you…

    • on July 23, 2017
  • Re: Another Jesus

    • If God felt it necessary to replace the ten commandments, he could do it like…

    • on July 23, 2017
 

© 2017 Arkansas Times | 201 East Markham, Suite 200, Little Rock, AR 72201
Powered by Foundation