The Chris Christie Show (Epilogue)

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ), at left, joins Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump during a press event at Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Florida, on Super Tuesday, 1 March 2016.  Christie, who suspended his own presidential campaign in February, has been widely ridiculed for endorsing Trump.

“Christie perhaps fancied himself as Trump’s VP or attorney general. If he did, he was not thinking clearly. To begin with, it is less and less likely with each passing day that Trump will ever become president. Moreover, Christie himself has so soiled his reputation that it is doubtful he would ever be confirmed for a Cabinet post.”

Jennifer Rubin

It is true, of course, Jennifer Rubin is one I pick on. It is also true the right-wing blogger, perhaps for the sake of having a Washington Post credential, sometimes turns up on the editorial page of a local newspaper here or there, and this aspect of reality can actually be problematic. On other days, something about easy entertainment goes here. Or something like that. To wit, Tacoma readers got this bit of analysis on Tuesday:

Since New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has endorsed Donald Trump, he has been:

• Humiliated by video showing Trump ordering him onto the plane and telling him to “go home.”

• Condemned by his former finance co-chair Meg Whitman. (“The governor is mistaken if he believes he can now count on my support, and I call on Christie’s donors and supporters to reject the governor and Donald Trump outright. I believe they will. For some of us, principle and country still matter.”)

• Excoriated for his disastrous TV interview on Sunday. Phrases like “train wreck,” “off the rails” and “disaster” were used to describe his appearance.

Rubin is at her best when addressing conservatives about Republican politics, which in turn sounds reasonable enough; her purpose in posing as some manner of journalist is to help Republicans get elected, and her invocation of a fairly obvious title, “Chris Christie is now ruined”, is the sort of thing we might quibble with only to wonder at the word “now”.

Then again―

Christie perhaps fancied himself as Trump’s VP or attorney general. If he did, he was not thinking clearly. To begin with, it is less and less likely with each passing day that Trump will ever become president. Moreover, Christie himself has so soiled his reputation that it is doubtful he would ever be confirmed for a Cabinet post.

―she did leave herself some wiggle room. If we take the line about Mr. Christie soiling himself his reputationα in the broader spirit of Rubin’s blog post, we might point out that the New Jersey governor’s reputation was already soiled―Senate Democrats need not match their Republican colleagues’ blind intransigence in order to have every reason to foil a Christie nomination to pretty much any administration post requiring their advice and consent. To the other, if we read Rubin’s sentence literally, as written―that is, skipping the headline and framework focusing on the period since the Garden State bully endorsed Donald Trump―her assessment is exactly correct.

It is an interesting exercise in dissonance; Ms. Rubin wants to do what is best for her Party, but displays that acute appearance of ego defense―denial, as such―about her analyses. Partisan loyalty can preclude a proper accounting of reality: Governor Christie soiled his own reputation long before he endorsed Donald Trump. Once considered a presidential power player, his numbers have tumbled tremendously as scandal after incompetence after scandal has plagued him these last couple years. Even as the bridge scandal emerged, he ran as high as twenty percent support, and, yes, pollsters really were checking back in 2013. He left the race last month, with three percent support in the polls, no delegates, and finishing sixth of nine in New Hampshire, topping only the female Republican, the black Republican, and former Virginia Governor Jim Gilmore, who, by the way, lasted two days longer than Chris Christie.

Jennifer Rubin asserts―

Trump has rendered Christie an isolated, pathetic object of scorn. Other Republicans should take note.

―and we might beg to differ. That is, associating himself with Donald Trump certainly hasn’t helped rehabilitate Mr. Christie’s reputation, but insofar as the Governor of New Jersey is an “isolated, pathetic object of scorn”, the more obvious thesis would be to point out that he did this to himself.

And, sure, he did it again, to agonizing effectβ, throwing in with Donald Trump, but that only begs the question of how he sunk so low in the first place. Perhaps that would be a more pertinent question for Republicans to be asking themselves as they dish out their endorsements for a Trump presidency: “Wait a minute, just how did I manage to arrive at this particular here and now?” And the first answer will be that it’s going to take more than a minute to figure out. And, yeah, you know, good luck with that.

____________________

α See what I did there? Sorry, just getting into the spirit of the GOP contest. I really should know better.

β Even among those who consider Gov. Christie somewhat or even particularly loathsome, there was still some dimension of vicarious embarrassment about the spectacle, which, in turn, is why the schadenfreude felt so sickening. Basic human sympathy persists for a reason. But it really is tragic how far all this has to go in order to make us cringe in sympathy for Chris Christie.

Image note: New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R-NJ), at left, joins Republican presidential frontrunner Donald Trump during a press event at Mar-a-Lago in Palm Beach, Florida, on Super Tuesday, 1 March 2016. Christie, who suspended his own presidential campaign last month, has been widely ridiculed for endorsing Trump.

Rubin, Jennifer. “Chris Christie is now ruined”. The News Tribune. 1 March 2016.

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