Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey endorsed Donald J. Trump on Friday, a major turn in a wild race and one that gives the New York businessman a significant boost as he heads into the pivotal “Super Tuesday” contests.A couple of days ago, Jon Ward of Yahoo Politics said it could happen:
Now some in New Jersey are already speculating that Christie could endorse Trump in order to curry favor with the GOP frontrunner in the hope of being named attorney general.But still, I was surprised -- and not just because Trump's had very few endorsements from mainstream pols, or because Christie said some disparaging things about Trump before dropping out of the race.
One reason I was surprised is that the Christie campaign collaborated with Jeb Bush's campaign to try to take down Marco Rubio before the New Hampshire primary. Trump regarded Jeb as his sworn enemy. (And still does, apparently -- Trump didn't stop insulting Jeb even after Jeb dropped out.) So, to Trump, that's all forgotten? And what about Christie? It's that easy for him to switch allegiances?
But that's Christie's style, isn't it? We think of him as the big bully, the tough alpha male -- but he really likes groveling before men with a stronger claim to top-dog status. On behalf of Jeb, who was supposed to be the big man in the race, he was willing to be the muscle, the guy who abused Marco Rubio (a job clearly too rough for the well-bred Bush). And now Christie's backing the candidate who really is the big man.
I noticed this Christie tendency a year ago, when he was in the news for hanging out with Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones at an NFL game. It struck me that, with Jones, Christie seemed rather desperate to belong. Watch the Vine:
At the time, I wrote:
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!"Of course, Christie was also like that in the presence of President Obama. Now, remember the circumstances: It was October 2012. Christie had just given a speech on Mitt Romney's behalf in which he'd said this about the president:
“You’ve been living inside 1600 Pennsylvania Ave. for the last four years,” Christie said. “If you don’t think you can change Washington from inside the White House let’s give you the plane ticket back to Chicago you’ve earned.”Then Hurricane Sandy happened. Obama went to New Jersey, and the following week Christie's tone changed completely:
Christie riled up the Richmond crowd saying that Obama is arrogant for believing he can’t change Washington politics.
“If he believes that, then what the hell is he doing asking for another four years?” Christie said. “We’re happy to give you a bus ticket to the outside, Mr. President.”
Christie added that Obama is “blindly walking around the White House looking for a clue.”
“He’s like a man wandering around a dark room, hands up against the wall, clutching for the light switch of leadership and he just can’t find it.”
“It’s been a great working relationship,” Mr. Christie said.They didn't exactly hug, at least on camera, but Christie looked soulfully into Obama's eyes:
“I cannot thank the president enough for his personal concern and compassion for our state,” he added during a brief news conference. He said it was “my honor” to turn the podium over to the president and then stood just behind him, occasionally nodding and smiling at his jokes.
But the alpha male before whom Christie's groveling has been the most painful is Bruce Springsteen. As The Atlantic's Arit John wrote in 2014:
Politicians rarely like to look pathetic, and yet New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is unapologetically devoted to Bruce Springsteen, the Jersey-born rock icon who doesn't seem to like him all that much....Christie was tweeting out Springsteen playlists even after Springsteen went on The Tonight Show and performed a nasty Bridgegate-themed version of "Born to Run" with Jimmy Fallon.
... every time Christie mentions the Boss, he's reminding us that his idol has mocked and refused to meet him more than once.... it's weird to see a politician publicly open himself up to rejection.
... Springsteen -- far more liberal that the Republican governor -- refused to meet the governor until November 2012, when they hugged at a Hurricane Sandy benefit concert. Christie admitted to crying about it.
The big lug likes bigger, more powerful lugs. He wants to be their beta male. And now he's endorsed the guy who, in his own mind, is the biggest lug of all. We really shouldn't be surprised at all.
UPDATE: As requested in comments by Pragmtic Idealist, here are Scut Farkus and Grover Dill, the bullies from A Christmas Story.
You'll be amazed at the resemblance. Grover Dill has a typical Christie expression and Scut Farkus has a dead animal pelt on his head.I see PI's point.