Compared with his two-hour apology/press conference last week, Chris Christie’s remarks on the scandals surrounding his administration were mercifully concise during his State of the State address on Tuesday afternoon.
The governor, who last week fired two senior aides over the politically-motivated decision to cripple the town of Fort Lee with traffic jams, and faces a federal investigation of his use of funding dedicated to Hurricane Sandy relief, began by saying, “The last week has certainly tested this administration. Mistakes were clearly made and as a result we let down the people we were entrusted to serve.”
He reiterated that he is ultimately responsible for the actions of his administration, and pledged to cooperate in all “legitimate investigations.”
“But I also want to assure the people of New Jersey today that what has occurred does not define us or our state,” he added. “This administration and this legislature will not allow the work that needs to be done to improve the peoples’ lives in New Jersey to be delayed for any reason.”
At this, he was interrupted for a lengthy round of applause before he continued, “I am the leader of this state and its people and I stand here today proud to be both.”
Political pundits quickly took to Twitter to mock his use of the passive voice in phrases such as “mistakes were clearly made” and “what has occurred” – a time honored way of acknowledging problems while denying responsibility that, to name just a few, Presidents such as Clinton, Reagan, and Nixon all used in discussion of scandals.
Christie gave opponents little else to work with, delving quickly into a discussion of economic progress being made in the state and policy changes he is advocating, including reducing taxes and lengthening the school day and school year.
Christie did not specifically address either the decision made by some of his most senior aides to mete out political payback to the mayor of Fort Lee, NJ by shutting down most of his town’s access to the vitally important George Washington Bridge. Nor did he address concerns that a contract for a pro-tourism advertising campaign went to a politically-connected firm that had promised to feature Christie and his family in a television advertisements for the Jersey Shore.
Follow Rob Garver on Twitter @rrgarver
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