Chris Christie’s Leadership Culture

Posted on January 10, 2014 by

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Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ) held a long press conference yesterday, attempting to squelch a burgeoning scandal. People in Christie’s inner circle apparently used the Governor’s office to discomfit a political rival, and the fallout could be dramatic. Email exchanges show that Christie aids ordered lane closures during peak travel times around Fort Lee, NJ, and they did so to punish the Mayor for declining to endorse Christie’s re-election. Christie has fired the deputy chief of staff most directly involved, yet his presidential ambitions are still tarnished and may continue to suffer.

While the nature of the scandal seems minor, the lane closures resulted in serious traffic problems, and, for Christie’s political future, reveal at least the potential tendency to abuse government’s power to settle political scores. Again, so far it seems Christie was not directly involved in the scandal, but we do know, for certain, that his staffers not only ordered the action but seemingly reveled in Fort Lee’s resulting headaches. Regardless of his own involvement, Christie appointed people who thought it fully appropriate to use government’s coercive power to settle political vendettas. This indicates, at minimum, that Christie’s leadership culture needs to be examined thoroughly. Does he employ people who view their offices as a sacred trust or as a chance to settle scores? If President, what would a Christie Administration look like? Who would direct Christie’s IRS? NSA? CIA?

Yes, Yes, this is just traffic, right? No, it is about character and principles. Let’s hope Christie’s actions dispel the doubt now clouding his presidential halo. If they do not, let us be done with him and pity the people of New Jersey.

 

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