To be fair, Florida Gov. Ron DeSantis has finally started throwing some shade Trump’s way, and other candidates (perhaps, too many) are joining the fray. But despite all his flaws and baggage, Christie intrigues me for a simple reason: he can talk.
“Of all the talents bestowed upon men, none is so precious as the gift of oratory,” declared Winston Churchill. “Abandoned by his party, betrayed by his friends, stripped of his offices, whoever can command this power is still formidable.” While he will almost assuredly never win the presidency, Christie’s talent and toughness gives him the chance for something just as elusive: A heroic redemption.
Consider Christie’s lived experience, and what you’ll find is a story tailor-made for an inspiring movie, starring an unlikely hero. He’s a faded (but once upon a time, ascendant) political star who missed his best chance to be president when he opted not to run in 2012.
Having missed his shot once, Christie ran for president in 2016. But a soufflé, as they say, doesn’t rise twice. Sensing his window had closed, Christie turned “heel.”
He destroyed Sen. Marco Rubio (R-FL) in a sort of murder-suicide, and then truly debased himself by endorsing Donald Trump (at the time, this was seen as a major coup for Trump).
Upon Trump’s stunning presidential victory, Christie was tapped to run the transition campaign. Although he seemed to perform well, he was dropped from the role. Next, he was snubbed when it came time to nominate cabinet members.
Former Trump advisor Steve Bannon claimed this was because Christie didn’t stick with Trump in the immediate aftermath of the Access Hollywood scandal. It also seems likely that Jared Kushner, Trump’s son-in-law (who has a personal vendetta with Christie), helped sabotage his chances.
“Consider Christie’s lived experience, and what you’ll find is a story tailor-made for an inspiring movie, starring an unlikely hero. ”
Still, Christie sucked it up, remaining largely loyal to Trump until the Jan. 6 Capitol riot.
This makes Christie a complex figure. He backed him when he thought it might benefit his career. He stood by Trump when Trump said and did a lot of horrible things. And yet, when Trump tried to overturn a free and fair election, it was (no pun intended) a bridge too far for Christie.
To paraphrase another larger than life figure, Christie would do anything for Trump, but he won’t do that.
Having endured so many ups and downs—all the great moments and humiliating defeats—could Christie’s final political act involve self-sacrifice?
Having turned to the Light Side, could there be another chapter left to be written?
I have no doubt that Christie sincerely wants to be president, and probably even believes he has a shot (however long of a shot it might be). Stranger things have happened. But his potential for stopping Trump from winning the GOP nomination is much greater than his chances of supplanting him as the nominee.
At this point, I should note that I think Trump is poised to be the Republican nominee in 2024. But Christie’s entry introduces a new variable: a plausible reason for hope.
Even if they could muster the courage to try (most can’t), very few politicians have the ingredients to effectively confront Trump.
As a trained federal prosecutor who is also a quick-witted bully by nature, Christie is rhetorically and temperamentally equipped to prosecute the political case against Trump.
And if that happens—if Christie can draw blood—it could erode Trump’s invincible image and embolden others to pile on. That is the (untested) hope.
Of course, Christie probably wouldn’t come out of the scrum unscathed. Ironically, someone else—most likely DeSantis—would probably benefit electorally from Christie’s sacrifice, a scenario that channels an old Hollywood trope where the old enemy shows up at the last minute to save the day (and likely, sacrifice his life).
It won’t be as easy as riding into town on a horse. To deliver the kind of blow that will matter, Christie probably has to earn his way onto the GOP primary debate stage. Then, the stars have to align.
Along the way, Christie will be tempted. Will he be lured into trying to destroy other candidates (like Ron DeSantis), ostensibly so he can get a clean shot at Trump?
This has all the makings of a Hollywood story of sacrifice and redemption. But I don’t want to sound too quixotic. Christie has a rare opportunity to change the trajectory of America and the GOP, but it’s unclear whether he is willing to accept the fact that this would likely be a kamikaze mission.
I know what you’re thinking, in the immortal words of Jim Carrey, “So you’re saying there’s a chance?” Yes, a fat one.
Post source: TDB