Here’s what Chris Christie needs to do:
The governor needs to hold a news conference where he can tell us who knew what about the Fort Lee lane closures. If he doesn’t know that answer, he needs to tell us that his top priority is to find out. He then needs to fire anyone who took part in closing down these lanes.
Christie said in a statement, “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.”
He needs to ask himself two genuine questions: Can he effectively govern considering the circumstances? And can he make a realistic argument that he can accomplish good things for his constituents despite the situation?
If he knows in his heart that he cannot govern effectively, he needs to resign. If he thinks he can govern effectively and believes the media are blowing things out of proportion, for example, he needs to say that knowing it’s going to come with a lot of skepticism and tough questions.
Christie needs to apologize, explain what his thinking was, say he’s learned a valuable lesson and then we’ll move on. He’s basically asking for a second chance.
Would his political career be over in either case? Heck no!
People do drugs and get re-elected to office later. They cheat on their wives and get re-elected to office later. People are willing to forgive politicians, especially politicians they ideologically support. Sure, constituents will discredit politicians they don’t like, calling them immoral or whatever other word they want to pick out of the thesaurus. But I’ve heard interviews with people who vote for constituents who were morally questionable and they always rationalize their vote. No matter how morally questionable someone might be, they still would rather vote for the guy who will pass the laws they believe in. They almost don’t expect morals anyway when it comes to politics.
Now, why would someone pay me for such advice? What I’m basically saying is to tell the truth, get rid of the people who screwed up, say you’re sorry and acknowledge your flaws. Many people in crisis communications would never offer this advice. The knee jerk reaction is to circumvent the truth and skirt around the edges of reality. It’s called damage control. In their minds, damage control means surviving. The problem is that they’re the only ones who buy into it. It may work to some extent, but reputations are still tarnished, reporters don’t believe you, constituents know you’re full of it and even your supporters suddenly roll their eyes. So most people in crisis communications just don’t think that way. That’s not how they were taught to do things. It wouldn’t even cross their minds.
How refreshing would it be if someone just told the truth and took action? People are willing to forgive. They choose not to forgive people who they feel continue to lie or do not come forward with all of the facts.
That’s why a lot of people out there would consider what I’m offering to be crazy advice, but I think it’s the advice a lot of people would like to see someone take to heart. And sometimes when you acknowledge that you’re a flawed man or woman, in the long run, people might have more respect for you than they did to begin with.