Chris Christie, President Obama and the ‘ignorance is bliss’ dodge
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has a reputation. Actually, he has several reputations. One of the less savory ones is that of a bully. In December, the New York Times tallied up a few of his nastier moments. The story is eerily prescient, mentioning allegations that Christie aides ordered the traffic tie-up on the George Washington Bridge in September, charges that at the time Christie described as preposterous.
On Wednesday, those nasty allegations got a little less preposterous. And so the governor talked the talk of the unwitting and wronged victim. In a statement, he said: “What I’ve seen today for the first time is unacceptable. I am outraged and deeply saddened to learn that not only was I misled by a member of my staff, but this completely inappropriate and unsanctioned conduct was made without my knowledge.”
Go ahead, tally it up: In just two sentences, he managed to slip in three references that he didn’t know about the conduct and four references that he was really mad about it.
Those aides may not tell the boss everything, but they sure can write press releases! (Mel Evans / Associated Press)
When it comes to “I didn’t know,” President Obama takes a back seat to no one, having fallen just one gaffe short of hitting for the cycle in 2013.
First, he didn’t know the Internal Revenue Service was targeting certain tea party groups seeking tax-exempt status for special scrutiny. Second, he didn’t know the NSA was conducting secret surveillance of foreign leaders, including German Chancellor Angela Merkel. (We’re, you know, allies and all.) And finally, and most infamously, he didn’t know about problems with the government-run healthcare website, HealthCare.gov.
In a Christie-esque take on that tech disaster, the president offered this explanation: “On the website, I was not informed directly that the website would not be working the way it was supposed to.”
Hmm. You suppose that, being the president and all, he could’ve, I don’t know, asked?
Of course, regarding the healthcare law, Obama wasn’t the only one kept in the dark. There was also this little, er, blip; his repeated statement that if you liked your insurance plan, you could keep it: “With respect to the pledge I made that if you like your plan you can keep it ... there is no doubt that the way I put that forward unequivocally ended up not being accurate.”
Well, at least he didn’t say he didn’t know that he was, uh, “not being accurate.” (Pablo Martinez Monsivais / Associated Press)
Lee Baca has served four terms -- nearly 16 years -- as Los Angeles County sheriff. But there won’t be a fifth term: He announced Tuesday that he would retire at the end of January and not seek reelection.
His Achilles’ heel? The county jail system that the Sheriff’s Department oversees. As toxic messes go, it’s a political and human rights Superfund site. There have been lawsuits, stories and multiple investigations into problems at the jails, and it all came to a head last month. As The Times reported: “Federal authorities announced criminal charges against 18 current and former sheriff’s deputies and supervisors involved in jail operations. The allegations ranged from abusing people who sought to visit jail inmates to impeding a federal investigation.”
Baca called those arrests “a sad day” for the department. But he should have seen that day coming. After all, a blue-ribbon commission in 2012 delivered a scathing report on the jails that placed most of the blame for abuses on the sheriff.
Baca’s defense? Yep. He “said his senior managers never told him about jailer brutality,” The Times reported.
And now there’s going to be a new sheriff in town. Hopefully one who knows what’s going on in his jails. (Mark Boster / Los Angeles Times)
Rand Paul enjoys public speaking. He is, after all, a politician. And he likes to write: books, op-eds and such. But hey, he’s a busy guy, representing the good folks of Kentucky in the Senate and conservatives everywhere. Oh, and like many politicians, he can be pugnacious.
So when questions arose last year about certain, uh, similarities in some passages of Paul’s speeches and op-eds to entries in Wikipedia and the like -- well, let’s just say that his first instinct wasn’t to fess up. No, his first instinct was to try something more old-fashioned with those he labeled “haters”:
“If dueling were legal in Kentucky, if they keep it up, you know, it would be a duel challenge. But I can’t do that, because I can’t hold office in Kentucky then.”
Now that’s a conservative!
But with the dueling deal a dud, someone stepped forward to, well, take a bullet for the boss. As the Washington Post reported: “A top aide ... acknowledged ... that Paul’s staff in some cases failed to properly attribute and quote content pulled from other sources.
“In the thousands of speeches and op-eds Sen. Paul has produced, he has always presented his own ideas, opinions and conclusions,” senior adviser Doug Stafford said in a statement. “Sen. Paul also relies on a large number of staff and advisers to provide supporting facts and anecdotes -- some of which were not clearly sourced or vetted properly.”
But as a reality TV show, the “Rand Paul Duel of the Week” would’ve put “Duck Dynasty” to shame. (Bill Pugliano / Getty Images)
Technically, Toronto Mayor Rob Ford doesn’t belong on this list. After all, when his wrongdoing came to light -- drug use, to be specific, since there were quite a few allegations being tossed around -- he didn’t blame underlings. Then again, he didn’t blame himself, exactly. No, he had a more, shall we say, nuanced explanation for things that went wrong in the night.
Dogged for months by questions about whether he had smoked crack cocaine, the rotund one from the frozen north repeatedly said he had not. But when video evidence -- darn those cameras! -- surfaced showing hizzoner attached to a crack pipe, he didn’t blame aides. He blamed booze.
As The Times’ David Horsey wrote: “At the time the video was shot, he said, he was way too drunk to remember the crack.”
Oh Canada! But you have to admit, that may well go down as the greatest worst political dodge ever. (Chris Young / Associated Press)