Chris Christie, paperback villain

I am addicted to the Chris Christie bridge scandal. In trying to figure out why this story has resonated so deeply with me, I happened upon a unique possibility. I believe it is my love for fictional political thrillers. The writer in me cannot help looking at this scandal as the plot of a novel. It’s not difficult to come up with twists that have yet to be discovered. The more I think about them, the more I feel there’s a lot more we have yet to learn.

Chris Christie, being an East Coast governor and Republican, never showed up on my radar until everyone noticed him. Just before the presidential election, and after hurricane Sandy’s landfall, Chris Christie abandoned Mitt Romney and started hanging out with President Obama. To me, it seemed a strange thing to do. Yes, I heard Christie say that he would do anything to help his state, but he was overly affectionate, so very chummy, and the timing was insane, if you were rooting for the Republican to win the election.

Fast-forward to the bridge scandal and it got me thinking. Christie is being painted as a vindictive man who cannot be crossed. Whether the bridge scandal is payback for a non-endorsement or something else, none of the theories has a positive spin for the governor of New Jersey. He has the appearance of a petty, small-minded man who will break any rule to get his message out: don’t mess with Christie.

He is also known as a micro-manager whose fingers are in every pie. Resembling Richard Nixon at the height of his paranoid thuggery, Christie never forgets a slight. It didn’t matter that his election was in the bag. Like Nixon, he could not ignore his own base nature. Or, as Chris Hedges wrote in Truthdig, “Christie is the caricature of a Third World despot. He has a vicious temper, a propensity to bully and belittle those weaker than himself, an insatiable thirst for revenge against real or perceived enemies, and little respect for the law and, as recent events have made clear, for the truth.”

How, in our imaginary novel, do we apply what we’ve learned in the bridge scandal to what happened at the end of the last presidential election? Mitt Romney had been receiving a lot of pressure from the east coast moneymen to make Chris Christie his running mate. This was the same money Mitt came from himself, so one would assume it carried a lot of influence. And yet, he went with Paul Ryan, a Midwesterner. It leaves us with a lot of questions. How did Christie feel about getting snubbed? And for a man like Christie, who had spent his life living in the land of vendettas and whose standard operating procedure was, “We don’t get mad; we get even,”[1] — how would he reconcile being passed over for a prize that big? His character tells us that he would not let it pass. Is it possible that Chris Christie’s behavior in the run-up to the election had more to do with revenge than hurricane relief. Perhaps hugs with Obama were a small price to pay for helping to lead Romney to a humiliating loss.

Or was it something even more Machiavellian? He may have killed two birds with one stone. By helping torpedo Mitt Romney’s bid for the presidency, Christie played a role in getting Barack Obama a second term. Had Romney won, it would most likely have been eight years until the next election. And then Paul Ryan, who would still be a young man, could try for his eight years. That’s 16 years of Republican rule that may have left the country desperate for some Democrats. Where would that have left Christie? He is an impatient man when it comes to power. He would not want to wait 16+ years. Instead, because Romney lost, he just had to wait the four years of Obama’s second term and then the field was wide open.

Christie has said on more than one occasion that he was willing to do anything in order to win whatever he had his sights on. Everyone knows his eyes are firmly fixed on the Presidency. Just what is he willing to do? Calling for some traffic problems seems small in comparison to sabotaging a presidential election. And yet, his abandoning Romney and cozying up to the President may have played at least some role in the reelection of Barack Obama therefore giving Chris Christie a clear shot in 2016… as long as no one figured out who he really was.

Let’s hope this is one book that does not have a happy ending for its villainous central character. Time for this petty despot to fade into a footnote.



[1] Christy quote repeated by Richard Merkt on “Up w/Steve Kornacki” 01/11/2014