Yes, as we prepare to choose a new president in 22 months here in The Greatest Country on Earth, we're actually having a serious debate about this (which, shamefully, I'm participating in):
Will Chris Christie Regret His Cowboy Hug?And that's good? That's what we want in a president?
Why the New Jersey governor’s embrace of Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones could come back to haunt him.
Images are important and memes matter -- which is why the viral screen capture of New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie hugging Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones is worth noting today.
In case you missed it, cameras captured Christie (an admitted longtime Cowboys fan) celebrating the Cowboys come-from-behind victory over the Detroit Lions in the owner’s box on Sunday night. GIFs were created. Tweets were sent. Jokes were made. It became a thing. But does it matter?
One the one hand, you could argue it doesn’t. Assuming Christie does run for president, he probably won’t win his home state of New Jersey. As a recent New York Times article noted, Garden Staters “do not think he should run for president -- they are, as the slogan goes, ready for Hillary -- but most expect he will, and want him to resign if he does.” This is to say that Christie doesn’t have much to lose if he turns off some disgruntled Giants, Jets, or Eagles fans.
Rooting for the Cowboys also seems to underscore Christie’s status as an authentic truth-teller. In comparison to likely Democratic nominee Hillary Clinton (who, on different occasions, has presented herself as both a Chicago Cubs fan and a New York Yankees fan), one could view Christie’s support of Dallas as a sort of profile in courage. At least he’s not pandering.
There’s also the fact that there is something charming about catching Christie in the pure, unadulterated, climax of celebration. Adults tend to hide their emotions, but here we were revealed to a sort of winsome joy that was somewhere between a young child on Christmas morning and the Die Hard scene where "Ode to Joy" comes on when Hans Gruber finally opens the vault....
I'm not seeing a movie villain opening a vault. A kid on Christmas? That's a lot closer to the mark. What I see is a doughy, overeager man-child -- the kind of comic figure who might be played by Jonah Hill, Seth Rogen, or Josh Gad -- trying to hug an adult who's half-ignoring him (note the failed high-five). Nothing wrong with a little awkwardness in a moment of bro-camaraderie, but Christie just seems so needy. I'm not saying that every president needs to have Barack Obama's cool, but in this moment Christie seems like a guy utterly lacking in gravitas. A would-be president should look like The Man (Substitute the female equivalent for Hillary or Liz Warren.) A presidential aspirant shouldn't look like someone who's thinking, "Holy crap, I can't believe I'm with The Man!"
But that's just my impression. I assume American sports fans will find this "relatable," and everyone else will just find it reminiscent of Homer Simpson, the fictional character who's the quintessence of modern American child-manhood. And our presidents spend so much time sucking up to rich people that they aren't really alpha dogs anyway. (Jones, an ex-oilman and GOP donor, not only invited Christie to sit with him in the owner's box, but paid for his trip to Dallas, which would be the real story here if our pols weren't being schmoozed like this all the time.)
As for the question of Christie's out-of-state loyalties, I don't see how it hurts him. It would be shameless and pathetic if Christie were suddenly declaring a lifelong allegiance to some minor-league baseball team in Iowa, but rooting for a Texas team has no obvious immediate political benefit for him -- and besides, he's declared his Cowboys fandom since at least as far back as 2010. Americans regularly relocate and retain old team loyalties afterward (here in New York we've elected two consecutive mayors, Mike Bloomberg and Bill de Blasio, who spent formative years in Red Sox territory and never really became Yankee or Met fans). Maybe they take this stuff more seriously in the South, but Christie loves a team from the South, so he's got that covered. Elsewhere, I think people consider it trivial.
But for anyone who feels like me about the lack of dignity, I'd say: if you have your eye on the Oval Office, root as if you're a Master of the Universe, not an overexcited eleven-year-old.
And lose the sweater, Chris. Seriously.