Chris Christie’s political persona lived by the smirk–and, this past week in New Hampshire, it died by the smirk. His relentless attack on Marco Rubio on what was, after all, a meaningless point, more than just damaged the Florida senator’s standing, it put an inglorious end to Christie’s hopeless crusade.
Clearly, the New Jersey governor hoped tearing apart Rubio would help his own campaign but all it did was show New Hampshire what New Jersey has known for years–Christie is a shallow wise-ass who can charm some of the boys in the press and sycophantic and traitorous Democrats like Joe DiVincenzo, the Essex County executive, and Brian Stack, the mayor of Union City, but he can’t fool an entire nation.
Few New Jersey politicians had less there there–and, eventually, the state’s people found out. In a way, watching Christie perform from a distance–in Iowa and New Hampshire and debate venues–made him clearer in New Jersey’s eyes.
The people of the state knew, for example, he was no hero to the victims of Superstorm Sandy. They knew he was no terrorist-chasing federal prosecutor. They knew his claims for reaching consensus “across the aisle” were euphemistic for cutting deals with unsavory Democrat bosses like South Jersey’s George Norcross III and Newark’s Steve Adubato.
They also knew–boy, did they ever–that he didn’t “tell it like it is.” He lied and lied and lied. Whether it was about eliminating Common Core–he didn’t–or being cleared by three Bridgegate investigations–he wasn’t.
Christie had a long run, mostly because of mainstream media’s fascination with the playground bully and their contempt for Christie’s bitterest foes, public employee unions. For newspaper’s like The Star-Ledger, if the New Jersey Education Association (NJEA) opposed Christie on an issue, the governor had to be right because the publication swallowed whole the belief, encouraged by Christie, that working stiffs who want more out of life–unlike the rich who own most of everything–were selfish.
While the people of New Jersey–who gave Christie extraordinarily high disapproval ratings–could see their governor more clearly from a distance, a few media outlets held on as long as they could to the fantasy that Christie might be president some day, something a blind mole buried in the dirt could see wasn’t going to happen.
It helped “clicks,” the digital future’s poor substitute for circulation. Christie’s silly crusade for the White House undoubtedly had many people clicking on their computers to catch the latest buffoonery, but it couldn’t last. Just a day before the New Hampshire primary, The Star-Ledger’s splash headline was quoting Christie about how he would do “very, very well.” I know I am old and I grew up in a different era of journalism–but you don’t squander precious front-page space on such unalloyed boosterism.
In the end, Chris Christie proved to be exactly what he was–a nobody. A nobody who lost a local Morris County election but who had a brother who could buy him a job he didn’t deserve and had no right to fill, the federal prosecutor’s position in New Jersey.
With his media friends, he built a false image of himself as a corruption fighter–even when he exploited his authority for his own corrupt political ends: Going after Democrats and Republicans who stood in his way, concocting entrapment schemes, leaking toxic information to hurt potential rivals.
The last and worst was his manipulation of the sicko Solomon Dwek to put the final nail in former Gov. Jon Corzine’s political coffin. Yes, that occurred after he resigned–but we all know Christie left behind loyalists who timed the “Bid Rig” investigation to come out just before the 2009 gubernatorial election.
Corruption fighter? What a joke. Believe that one and there is a bridge over the Hudson I could sell you–complete with red traffic cones ready for a new traffic study.
Now he will come home to New Jersey, a wounded beast thirsting for retribution, undoubtedly hoping a Republican will capture the White House and he can obtain yet another unmerited political job.
With Christie out of the race, the people of America can breathe a little easier that, while there are still wackos running for president, citizens won’t have to worry about a man who used the awesome powers of the federal criminal justice system to silence political opponents.
Unless, of course, President Donald Trump makes him attorney general.