by Paul Moomjean
In 1824 Washington Irving wrote a fascinating short story called The Devil and Tom Walker about a rich old man who wants to keep his fortune, but instead loses everything and becomes an urban legend after selling his soul to the Devil. To call Donald Trump the Devil might be a stretch to some (not me, mind you), but calling New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie a soul-selling politician greedily hanging on to any last strand of political power left is not an overstatement. In an election cycle filled with grass-root excitement, outsiders on a mission, and name-calling and childish behavior, maybe the saddest moment for me is watching Christie flush his integrity down the toilet and standing there, supporting Donald Trump on Super Tuesday week to keep his career alive.
Christie was the darling of the Republican Party in 2010 when he defeated New Jersey Governor Jon Corzine in a deep heated battle. He took on unions and Planned Parenthood with fire and purpose. His YouTube videos went viral. In 2012 people were begging him to run against Mitt Romney, just to put some fire in the primary season. He went on to be the 2013 Chairman of the Republicans Governor Association. In 2014 the GOP made huge ground in putting governors in different states and re-electing governors. Currently, there are 31 Republican governors in a country that voted for Barack Obama twice. To say he was successful in his role would be an understatement. His leadership only made a 2016 presidential run inevitable.
But after hugging Barack Obama in 2012 after Superstorm Sandy destroyed Christie’s state, and then turning Marco Rubio into a talking point robot, other aspects of Christie became clear: He’s in it for himself more than the party. While he showed integrity in working with Obama, he also swung moderates away from the “Obama as divider” rhetoric that the Mitt Romney campaign wanted to spread. The Rubio moment was a last ditch effort to become the establishment guy that he thought he deserved to be. Instead it destroyed him and Rubio going into the Super Tuesday night on March 1.
Christie’s political capital has melted into a puddle of goo. He’s despised in New Jersey, with a current 30 percent approval rating, and his endorsement of Donald Trump on Feb. 26 was a kiss of death among Democrats and Independents.
So why would the once popular rebel rouser of the GOP go with Trump? Simply put: He sold his soul for politics. Much like Tom Walker, Christie saw his political clout vanish, and in a desperate grab for survival he’s hoping for a cabinet or vice presidency appointment if Trump is victorious this November.
While some might say that’s a smart move to attach himself to the inevitable GOP winner, CNN reports that Trump is not looking good come this fall: “In the scenario that appears most likely to emerge from the primary contests, Clinton tops Trump 52 percent to 44 percent among registered voters. That result has tilted in Clinton’s favor since the last CNN/ORC Poll on the match-up in January.”
What America is seeing is the death of a man’s soul. A once Teddy Roosevelt-like candidate has become the hack that he claimed Rubio to be. He’s just jumping ship now to save his own skin, abandoning his values, his Catholicism (Trump got in a fight with the Pope, Mr. Christie!), and his party.
George Will put it best: “Trump’s collaborators, like the remarkably plastic Chris Christie (“I don’t think [Trump’s] temperament is suited for [the presidency]”), will find that nothing will redeem the reputations they will ruin by placing their opportunism in the service of his demagogic cynicism and anti-constitutional authoritarianism.”
When the dust settles, Trump will always be Trump. He’ll have books to sell, TV shows to produce and real estate to purchase. After the election is over, assuming he loses, Trump won’t bat an eye.
As for Chris Christie — he’s done. He’ll forever become the warning tale to tell other GOP darlings about how a desire to stay on top is a vile journey, and somewhere a writer might tell another short story. And that one will be called The Trump and Christ Christie.