If there ever was any way for Chris Christie to salvage his destroyed reputation for executive competence--and I doubt there was--he failed to find it this morning.
The Nixonian parallels are staggering.
Christie, incredibly, more than once uttered "mistakes were made"--a Tricky Dick passive voice of personal-responsibility evasion that is now used only comically.
Christie, as his state's chief executive, was "humiliated" and "blindsided" by the conduct of others in his administration, he said. Yet beyond merely "asking" those others about their culpability--this man is a former federal prosecutor, for Christ's sake; did he simply "ask" organized crime figures if they were guilty of any wrongdoing?--he never bulldogged the issue, just as Nixon never unearthed his administration's corruption from the get-go. Both stupidly allowed scandal to fester.
Christie insisted he "had no knowledge" of others' "lack of judgment." But by his own admission he was surrounded by a crew lacking in judgment, from administrative staffers to political operatives--his own unscrupulous bevy of Haldemans and Ehrlichmans and Mitchells. That sort of political gangsterism never evolves simply through some freak of fate--in the least sinister of cases, it evolves because the chief executive is unspeakably "blind," and therefore unfit for high office.
Christie did, however, break this morning from the Nixon tradition by sidling up to none other than George Romney, once Nixon's principal competitor for the 1968 Republican nomination. Romney, you'll recall, admitted to having been "brainwashed" about Vietnam. That was the end of his presidential hopes, because he never heard the end of it--just as Christie won't ever hear the end of having been "blindsided" after his staff had thoroughly brainwashed him as to their virtuous service.