During the last couple of days, I have found it hard not to keep bumping into Chris Christie. During that time, he has gone from ridiculing the very idea that shutting down the lanes leading to the George Washington Bridge was done on purpose, to admitting it – as the evidence grew – but denying he knew anything about the shutdown. It seems to me that the question of whether Christie knew or not isn’t relevant.
During the 1960’s and 70’s, I was a close-to-fanatic Oakland Raider fan. At the time, the Raider’s primary owner was Wayne Valley, the owner of the – then – very successful Besco home building company. Valley brought on Al Davis as Managing General Partner and Davis, as Managing Partner, turned the Raiders into one of the premier football teams of the era. At the same time, the 49ers were owned by the widows of the previous owners, Josephine Morabito Fox and Jane Morabito. After a disastrous 2-14 season, the widows sold the team to Edward DeBartolo Jr. who hired head coach Bill Walsh and the rest is history (at least in San Francisco).
When you read the history of the two teams during that era, the instrumental people most mentioned are Bill Walsh and Joe Montana, John Madden and Ken Stabler, along with various other players. Not much is said about the owners, but – I contend – the owners are the most important members of the team. The 49ers turned around because of Eddie DeBartolo. Under the Morabito widows, the 49ers had some great quarterbacks, like John Brodie and Y. A. Tittle, they had some great receivers and defensive backs, but they were never a great team.
When the Enron bubble burst, CEO Jeffrey Skilling and Chief Financial Officer Andrew Fastow got most of the credit but Ken Lay, the founder of Enron who claimed he knew nothing about the various frauds, was also charged and convicted as he should have been. As an aside, after he was convicted but before he was sentenced, Ken Lay died. He was vacationing in Snowmass, I guess when you steal as much as he did, you don’t go directly to jail. End aside. When Apple was run by John Sculley, it made some great computers but it didn’t become the Apple worth more than Microsoft, until Steve Jobs came back to turn the company around.
Steve Jobs didn’t do everything himself, but he set the tone. He created the culture, just like Ken Lay. Just like Al Davis and Eddie DeBartolo. And just like Chris Christie in New Jersey. Christie said that he fired his Deputy Chief of Staff, Bridget Kelly, because she lied to me. He didn’t fire her because of the traffic problems she caused or the because she acted in a petty and vindictive way; he fired her because she lied to him. Christie may be a governor that doesn’t like being lied to, but he has created a climate in which doing things that hurt the people of New Jersey is accepted, in which acting in a petty and vindictive way is accepted.