The story by now is a familiar one. A middle-aged white male, holding a grudge about a foreigner trying to sneak in and take his job, angry over taxes, suffering from a lifestyle disease the effects of which everyone but him can see, endorses Donald Trump.
I am of course speaking of New Jersey governor Chris Christie, who endorsed Trump earlier today in a press conference. “He is rewriting the playbook. He is rewriting the playbook of American politics because he’s providing strong leadership that [sic] not dependent on the status quo,” Christie said to reporters in the famous city of Fort Worth, Texas. Christie showed up completely unannounced, taking the press by surprise, to praise Trump and savage Florida Senator Marco Rubio, who for some reason has become his nemesis during this election cycle.
Conservatives responded to this news in a way that suggests the establishment of the Republican party (Christie having been a member of the establishment a whole six years now) is getting used to Trump:
CHRIS CHRISTIE ENDORSES TRUMP! He’s finally cut the cord with Wall St. The old Christie is back!
— Ann Coulter (@AnnCoulter) February 26, 2016
Stabbing at the heart of the establishment, possibly fatal. RT “Chris Christie Endorses Trump” https://t.co/ZeHNStbDSl
— Monica Crowley (@MonicaCrowley) February 26, 2016
— Lou Dobbs (@loudobbsnews) February 26, 2016
Yes, Chris Christie, by endorsing the plucky outsider whose name is plastered all over one of New York’s biggest buildings but is simultaneously allowed to pretend he’s not part of the system, has regained a small part of whatever reputation he once had in the eyes conservatives. By doing so he has supposedly slowed the momentum Marco Rubio was building as the great anti-Trump candidate. To political observers with any kind of a memory at all, of course, this makes no sense whatsoever. Chris Christie and Marco Rubio, who were both only elected in 2010, are seasoned members of the establishment, whereas a famous billionaire who’s a household name is somehow an outsider. But that is the world in which the current GOP primary, and indeed the current election, is operating. And in the rules of that world, it makes sense.
In fact, it makes a lot of sense. Chris Christie never really went after the GOP’s Scrooge McDuck when he was still running. His attacks during the debates were always hurled at Rubio, not Trump. Trump is incredibly popular among New Jersey Republicans, polling at 51%. And he has business ties with some of Atlantic City’s casino moguls, and Atlantic City is facing bankruptcy at the moment. A Trump presidency (a Machiavellian theory behind Christie’s actions) would be more receptive to endorsing a federal Atlantic City aid package.
And then, of course, there is Chris Christie himself. Trump is increasingly likely to be the party’s nominee, and Christie can’t run for re-election again in New Jersey. His only real hope of staying in politics and maybe trying this president thing again is by getting in on the ground floor of a Trump administration. Not that it will help him. It might save him from the fallout if and when Trump finally pushes the button, though.
The bottom line is Christie endorsed Trump because, like Trump, Christie is an incredibly selfish individual. Selfish to the core, to the limit of what humankind generally thinks is possible. So selfish that he would endorse an awkward Bush-Goldwater hybrid for a shot at being in the cabinet. So selfish that he would make an endorsement decision based on sticking it to his major political rival. That is the incredible level of selfishness required for this exact politician to make this exact endorsement at this exact moment. Once facing federal charges and the certain end of his political career, possibly in an orange jumpsuit, Christie is now reinventing himself in the shadow of a politician even more like himself than he is. And the thing is he’s off to a good start.
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