RIP, Chris Christie

The Biggest Loser, In More Ways Than One

That’s right, I had my doubts when he first announced his candidacy largely because of the way I thought he would look to democrats: like a typical fat cat caricature republican. But from the first debate it was clear he had lost weight, and looked good. Not just good — presidential.

To be fair, another obstacle the governor had to work around — and did, with style — was the fact that his shtick (“Telling it Like It Is”) was a bit overshadowed early on by… some other candidate. But before too long I grew to like the way he leaned with one arm on the podium, looked directly at the camera, and sympathized with the “folks at home” about how boring it can be listening to two senators bicker. It was as honest but more endearing than Trump, and his fierceness on tough issues was reassuring. And to top it all, I was told by a very left-leaning friend that Christie would be one of the few republicans he wouldn’t altogether rule out voting for. Not because of policy; he just liked Chris’s style. And you bet I did too.

But like it or not, it was just never in the cards for Chris Christie in 2016. Nor for Kasich, Bush, and a handful of other fine governors you never knew were running. GOP voters want an outsider, a fresher face in the White House. So why not leave the race with dignity and be among the first to seek out and support that new face? This will remain one of the many points of intrigue about the 2016 race for decades, no doubt.

The method for his madness is nuanced, sure. But it all boils down to self-interest. Christie made a terrible miscalculation in thinking he stood to win enough votes from Rubio’s base that his campaign could be launched to competitive-status. When that didn’t work, he still suspected that Rubio would eventually emerge as the alternative to Trump (and no doubt he knew deep down that Rubio is preferable to Trump), but the very last thing Christie wants at this point in his career is any additional reason to be suspect of flip-flopping. Oh no. So in order to maintain the illusion of decisiveness, he did what any perfectly rational biped would do and endorsed… Trump.

It makes me sad, really. There is not a chance that someone as sane as Christie really believes (1) that Trump will win the general election and (2) would make a half-decent President. He believes in Trump the way Jeb Bush believed in himself. Yet he is now bound to that stance because he doesn’t want to admit his obvious folly in tearing down Rubio. And of course he’s putting every last one of his eggs in the Trump basket, banking on the prospect of an invitation to his cabinet in 2017. But the invite will never come, and the only cabinets Trump will create will be those in the kitchens of his huuuge casinos and hotels. And Gov. Christie knows that. He’s been a fine leader and certainly could have played an honorable role in the rise of the next republican president, but instead will endure a slow and agonizing decline because of his selfish choices.