When a rumor surfaced in September that New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie blocked two major New Jersey access lanes to one of the world’s busiest bridges – the George Washington Bridge — to punish a local politician who threatened to ebb the governor’s coming electoral landslide, did anyone really doubt it was true?
Just judging Christie by his past actions — and with no need for Tony Soprano Jersey stereotypes — it certainly rang true.
Here is a politician who became a darling of the right by being loud and aggressive when standing up to the unions and politicians who had helped fleece New Jersey’s taxpayers for decades. He did this all, he repeated, for the same reason he did everything: for the citizens of New Jersey.
When Christie used his Republican National Convention speech to tell Americans about the Garden State’s reforms, the Christie narrative says he did it because his primary focus is the citizens of New Jersey.
When Christie held a $24 million special election just three weeks before the regular election, the Christie narrative says he did it because one can’t “put a price tag on what it’s worth to have an elected person” representing the citizens of New Jersey (for those three weeks).
When Christie broke with his national party to say congressional Republicans “failed that most basic test of public service,” the Christie narrative says he did it to get Sandy relief funds to the citizens of New Jersey.
And when his deputy chief of staff emailed Mr. Christie’s friend at the Port Authority, writing, “Time for some traffic problems in Fort Lee,” what does Christie narrative say then?
The obvious answer is Chris Christie did it for Chris Christie. Just like with all of his other stunts. And once we see Christie as he is — a man who would gridlock an entire city of his own constituents for nearly a week because its mayor didn’t join the boatload of Democrats backing his sure victory — his past gallantry for the citizens of New Jersey seems, well, a little less credible. (LEWIS: Chris Christie’s bridge to nowhere)
Like that time Republican presidential hopeful Mitt Romney gave Christie the national stage to support his candidacy and he spent it telling the country about Chris Christie, then told an angry Romney aide, ”I’m tired of you people! Leave me the fuck alone!”
Like that time he scheduled a separate, special election day so he wouldn’t have to share the ticket with a Republican running against a popular black candidate — ensuring a higher share of the black vote, which his campaign proudly touted as proof that he is a viable national candidate. (RELATED: Two more reasons Chris Christie’s selfishness is ruining America)
Like when he boosted his already swollen numbers with New Jersey Democrats by slamming Washington’s few fiscal conservatives for standing up to a “relief” bill so corrupt, bloated and wasteful that New York City’s own Wall Street Journal called it a “disgrace to the memory of the victims.” (Why Chris Christie won’t win the presidency in 2016)
There’s no doubt that Mr. Christie has a record of hard-fought wins against powerful, entrenched interests in a state where they called the shots just five years prior. But so did Wisconsin Gov. Scott Walker, who faced a significantly more hostile foe without threats, bluster or even a raised voice.
But style aside, why should Republicans trust a candidate who has been openly antagonistic to them? His excuse has always been that he is simply standing up for the citizens of New Jersey, but with the emails revealing targeted revenge on thousands of New Jerseyans over a minor political scuffle, the curtain is pulled back, and the real Chris Christie — the Chris Christie loyal to no one, including the aide who gave the order — is laid bare.
There’s a sizable bench of Republican candidates for president in 2016, and none of them are perfect. But while Republicans can’t afford to hold out for some mythical second coming of Ronald Reagan, neither can they afford to fall for the myth of Chris Christie — a myth of his own creation.