Chris Christie, Unfit to Lead

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie Holds News Conference To Address Traffic Scandal

NJ Governor/presidential wannabe Chris Christie caught a break this week when erstwhile rival, Wisconsin Governor Scott Walker, nixed his own White House plans. As recently as last summer, both Christie and Walker were arguably co-favorites be the next republican candidate who might replace President Barack Obama. 

 

What a difference a year makes, huh? Chris Christie’s numbers are still abysmal, but Walker’s unceremonious departure was definitely a bit of good news for the Christie campaign. 

 

So let’s quick douse some cold water on all that!

Unfit to Lead

Being commander-in-chief of the United States Armed Forces is surely one of any president’s most important duties. Judging from his performance as commander-in-chief of NJ’s National Guard, Chris Christie has no business whatsoever running the Pentagon. A recent Washington Post story revealed that the 8,400 citizen soldiers serving in NJ’s Guard comprise “a militia that has become increasingly dysfunctional under (Christie’s) watch.”

 

The leader of NJ’s National Guard, Air Force Brigadier General Michael L. Cunniff, recently drew the Pentagon’s ire for repeatedly (and miserably) failing to meet the military’s own weight and physical fitness standards.  Our current National Guard General is, quite literally, unfit to lead. 
 
And sadly that’s just the tip of a bigger-than-usual iceberg. There’s also drunk driving (and crashing) by the top military brass, scandalous headlines blaring corruption  (“Racial bias, cronyism tearing apart N.J. National Guard, senior officers allege”), as well as the occasional sex scandal (like the one that toppled Gen. Cunniff’s predecessor who was discovered by a subordinate in his office on base engaging in an adulterous affair.)

“It’s like the mob,” Lt Col Brian K. Scully (RET) told WaPo, himself drummed out, he alleges, for not cooperating with a coverup when Christie’s first Adjunct General – a childhood friend of the Governor’s  – was caught with his actual pants down and forced to resign. 
 
“One minute you’re the made man,” said Scully. “The next, you get a bullet in the back of your head. Only here it’s career assassination.”

So to review: there’s corruption, cronyism, racism, drunk-driving, sex scandals, and an overall lack of top-down leadership and discipline currently plaguing the NJ National Guard. This, all on the watch of current leader, General Cunniff, the same guy who said “he could not meet the (fitness) requirements when he took charge of the Guard in December 2011, so he kept putting it off” until receiving an actual reprimand from the Pentagon (which the Governor only learned about through the press.)
“The Governor has expressed directly to the General that his failure to meet that standard or to provide notification of his formal reprimand is both unacceptable and disappointing,” Christie’s offices said in a statement, alluding only to General Cunniff’s lack of military-ready physical fitness (and none of the other other more worrying infractions taking place.)

With its sundry scandals back in the headlines, New Jersey’s National Guard clearly had a lousy press week. But not surprisingly the focus was on the news that our notoriously rotund Governor Christie had ordered a brother-in-girth to slim down. The irony is rich and delicious, I get it. But don’t let one (admittedly) snicker-worthy detail mask the top-down, wholesale degradation of our state’s National Guard. 
 
A distinct hallmark of Chris Christies’ leadership is to pick bad leaders (see: Samson, David.) It’s an unfortunate pattern once again illustrated by the two men who’ve commanded our state’s national guard during Chris Christie’s tenure. 
Jay Lassiter is a long-time New Jersey political iconoclast. When he’s not pushing his radical agenda in Trenton, he’s usually at brunch. Or on Twitter @Jay_Lass
Chris Christie, Unfit to Lead