Unless you’re one of those terrifying individuals for whom Donald Trump is a divinely-appointed savior who can do no wrong, it’s hard to deny that it’s been a rough few years in politics.
Polarization, stagnation, scandal, and slander have reached levels sufficient to thoroughly demoralize even casual consumers of news, and for someone like me, whose work forces him to stare at articles like Alex DeLarge in “A Clockwork Orange,” utter despair often seems inevitable.
But, throughout this long winter of discontent, I have found a consistent and reliable light in this darkness, a reassuring reminder that sometimes the bad guy does get his comeuppance. I’m speaking, of course, of the numerous embarrassments suffered by former New Jersey Governor Chris Christie.
Christie entered the 2016 primary season as a strong, if somewhat scandal-ridden, candidate for president and ended it as the sycophantic Starscream to Trump’s Megatron. There are plenty of embarrassing incidents to choose from, but for me, three specific moments illustrate Christie’s clownish and much-thwarted sense of entitlement.
The first of these occurred almost two years ago when Christie first endorsed Trump for president. The endorsement itself was a transparently self-serving attempt to hitch his wagon to the Trump train rather than any sort of earnest recommendation. In film and literature, traitors are often treated with contempt by the very side to which they defect, and Trump provided the perfect illustration of this principle when he spoke into a hot microphone telling Christie, who had just finished endorsing him, to “get on the plane and go home.”
In the video, Christie simply smiles and pats Trump on the back as if he can’t believe what he’s hearing. Then the now-president leans back in and repeats himself, and you see Christie realize in real time that he is not a valued partner whose cynical defection would make him Vice President, but a mere tool to be treated with contempt, used, and cast aside. It was at least as satisfying as watching Brad Pitt carve a swastika into the forehead of opportunistic Nazi turncoat Hans Landa in Quentin Tarantino’s “Inglourious Basterds.”
The second incident took place on a beach in July. Christie had forced a government shutdown due to a state budget standoff, and as a result, all of New Jersey’s public beaches were closed for Fourth of July weekend. Closed, that is, unless you happened to be Chris Christie.
A drone operated by journalists, who obviously couldn’t physically access the beach to get pictures in a more conventional way, captured several images of the then-governor and his family frolicking on the beach, but one image stands out. The woman next to him smiles at the drone, but Christie, hands folded in pose caught between contentment and horror, glares up at it, fully aware of the public outcry about to result from his attempt to breezily abuse the privileges of his office. Sitting alone with your family on an empty beach is certainly a baller move, and for one brief moment, Christie had convinced himself he was a baller. That drone shot captured the exact moment he realized otherwise.
The third and final humiliation occurred just last week when Christie, having left office just days earlier, attempted to sashay through the VIP entrance to a terminal at Newark Airport, only to be stopped by security and made to wait in a TSA line with all the other peasants. I’m unfamiliar with the layout of the airport in question, but I dearly hope that you can see the VIP entrance from the TSA line. I’d have paid good money to watch Christie try to make like Kanye West rolling up to the club only to be forced to trudge over to the back of the line, desperately trying to avoid eye contact with his snickering fellow civilians.
My mother taught me not to laugh at the misfortunes of others, but in these three cases, I simply can’t help it. And besides, I’m not laughing at his suffering so much as rejoicing that, sometimes, it doesn’t pay to be a self-serving, self-important sellout.