Chris Christie’s Bridge-gate defense is that he knew nothing about it – his overzealous underlings did it on their own and never told him a thing.
It’s a pretty standard defense in both the corporate world and in government. In the Wells Fargo fake-account-creation scandal, the guys at the top said they had no idea what 5300 employees were tasked to do. Same with the VW emissions thing (two engineers did it), the Enron collapse (Ira Fastow did it), Iran-Contra (Ollie North), Watergate (everyone but Nixon), and a million others.
The guy at the top, who has obscene amounts of money or power, is the direct beneficiary of the wrong-doing, but can’t be expected to know any of the details of what exactly his wealth or power is based on.
First, let’s just clear one thing up – the guy at the top always knows and approves of whatever it is. Even Reagan, who literally didn’t know where he was at times near the end of his term, would have been briefed. Whether he actually “knew” is a distinction without a difference.
In Christie’s case, it’s just preposterous. Of course he knew and approved the closing of lanes on the George Washington bridge. For five days! Even if you accept the absurd notion that Bridget Anne Kelly and Bill Baroni cooked the whole thing up and put it in motion without their boss’s OK, Christie has to know on day two of the five when the telephone lines all melted down from the complaints.
But that’s all beside the point. What I want to say here is that taking refuge in the “I didn’t know” defense is a horrible idea. Why? Because not knowing about this sort of shit is a greater indictment than knowing.
Why are you the guy at the top if you have no control of those under you? Why are you corporate moguls paid hundreds of millions of dollars if you have no clue about what your organization is up to? And are we expected to vote for you politicians so that we may be governed by your underlings who we did not vote for, and who you apparently don’t communicate with?
In denying knowledge and accountability, you invite us to choose whether your epitaph should read “Stupid” or “Liar”. Those are the only two possibilities. And the answer is always “Liar”.