Chris Christie’s campaign has signaled that the New Jersey governor has finally read the writing on the wall and will announce the end of presidential campaign soon. It’s surely a victory for America (although probably disappointing for New Jersey residents) to see Christie return from whence he came, but amid the celebrations let’s remember: There were some good times too.
Like when Christie single-handedly destroyed Marco Rubio’s chances of ever being president.
It will go down in history as one of 2016’s defining political moments. Live and on the debate stage, a combative Christie managed to utterly embarrass the ill-prepared, shallow Marco Rubio in a matter of seconds. In an election that has been far too consumed with cheap talking points and heavily-rehearsed performance art, we got to see, in that instant, the moment two candidates stopped being polite and started being real.
Rubio crumpled – and it was painful to watch.
It’s hard to know what Rubio was thinking after getting so completely shut down – in fairness, it’s hard to think above the noise of whirring of gears and CPU cooling fans – but afterwards the effect was clear. The candidate most journalists had already ordained as the presumptive Republican nominee was dead in the water. Rubio’s campaign limps on, but in the way a ghost might if his end was so sudden he never realized he died at all.
The Washington Post‘s Dana Milbank puts it better:
Tuesday night, Rubio proved true the axiom popularized by Alan Simpson, the wisecracking former senator from Wyoming: “One day you’re the toast of the town, the next you’re toast.”
Now, to be clear, let’s not give Christie too much credit for his kamikaze finish. The infamous blowhard was – and remains – a complete asshole. His quest to take down his opponents doesn’t stem from some higher moral principles – he just likes being a bully. Returning to New Jersey, he will go on being a bully. That’s Christie’s whole shtick. In this light, Christie’s Rubio takedown was a Joker-like desire just to see the world burn. He takes down Rubio because he can, not because he wants to.
But regardless of motives, Christie was a refreshing change of pace. Trump also insults his fellow candidates, but his diminished intellect and massive ego mean that they are typically low-blows, potshots and vulgarity. Christie, having practiced the artform numerous times against teachers and nurses, is capable of bullying on the next level.
Now Christie returns to New Jersey, a place where most residents despise him and most attorneys have grown fat off his nearly-endless stream of self-induced scandals. At one time he was considered a Republican frontrunner. It never panned out. Instead, he’ll have to be content with the idea that while there will never be a Chris Christie White House, there won’t be a Marco Rubio one either thanks to him.
We all have our parts to play. Maybe this one is Christie’s.
Feature image from screengrab