Chris Christie Is the Worst Never Trumper
A dying gasp for relevance. Trump vs. DeSantis is Hulk Hogan vs. the Ultimate Warrior and that tells you everything you need to know.
1. Chris Christie
There he was in New Hampshire. After teasing a potential presidential run for nearly two years, Chris Christie started the countdown clock and told Granite State voters that he’ll have a decision on whether or not to run by mid-May.
Because the 7 percent of New Hampshire Republicans who voted for him in 2016 are ready to draft him to run for another last-place finish, I guess.
Let me explain why this fuggin’ guy is the worst Never Trumper, ever.
Here’s a quick summary of what Christie said yesterday: Trump is bad. He only supported Trump because he didn’t want Hillary Clinton to be president. He sees everything clearly now.
Also: He took shots at Ron DeSantis over Ukraine—which puts Christie on the wrong side of Republican voter opinion. And took a shot at Mike Pence for not being a strong enough leader—even though Pence is the guy who actually took a stand and thwarted the coup.
Oh, and Christie was still dining out on his 2016 New Hampshire debate:
“You better have somebody on that stage who can do to [Trump] what I did to Marco because that’s the only thing that’s going to defeat Donald Trump,” Christie said. “And that means you’ve got to have the skill to do it. And that means you have to be fearless because he will come right back at you. So you need to think about who’s got the skill to do that. And who’s got the guts to do it? Because it’s not going to end nicely. No matter what, his end will not be calm and quiet.”
Can you imagine having a 7-year-old, 60-second exchange from a primary debate that took place shortly before you finished last and had to drop out as the rationale for your candidacy?
Here’s a telling anecdote from the event from Semafor:
“I’m glad to hear you standing up against Trump,” the person said, but “when the results came in, you jumped ship on us.”
“Let me explain. Let me explain 2016 to you,” Christie responded. “I’ll be honest with you. We all made a strategic error … I stayed with him in 2016 because I didn't want Hillary Clinton to be president.”
“None of us knew what kind of president he really would be or not,” Christie added.
“I did,” the attendee replied.
No shirt. Literally tens of millions of Americans knew exactly what kind of president Trump would be. And Christie won’t even take ownership of his “misjudgment”—instead he casts himself as the victim of some giant swindle that no one could have possibly predicted.
So let me tell you why Christie is The Worst: Because this is his 7,014th attempt at Never Trumpism.
Obviously, Christie was with Trump in 2016. All the way to hell. You haven’t forgotten this, have you?
Christie was still with Trump as of 2019, when he published his book about “his friend” Donald, in which he said that Trump was a great president who was sometimes poorly served by the unworthy people who surrounded him.
No, really. I read the damn thing. The entire exercise was constructed as (1) a testimonial to Christie’s deep and abiding friendship with Trump and (2) an alibi for Trump’s administration.
Christie was with Trump in 2020, too. (So I guess Hillary Clinton wasn’t a unique threat requiring Republicans to make compromises? Old, middle-of-the-road backslapper Joe Biden also required Flight 93 thinking?)
It was only after Trump was beaten that Christie began transitioning to being a Never (Again) (Maybe) Trumper.
Christie says that Trump’s refusal to accept the outcome of the 2020 election was a “red line” for him. Great. Why wasn’t it a red line for Christie when Trump said, publicly—in both 2016 and 2020—that he might not accept the results of the election if he lost?
And if it’s only a red line when the coup becomes real, and not rhetorical, then why has it taken Christie so long to get to opposing Trump?
Remember in September 2021 when Christie went out to the Reagan Library to make his big “break” with Trump (and continue his 2024 tease)? Christie was such a wuss that he couldn’t even bring himself to say Trump’s name.
A few weeks after that, Laura Ingraham asked Christie if he’d support Trump if Trump was the nominee in 2024. Christie ducked said only that he would “absolutely not” vote for Biden and that:
The policies I supported, and you know, Laura, the line of supporting Donald Trump starts behind me. I was the first elected official in America to endorse him in 2016, prepped him for those debates, prepped him in 2020 for the debates, and stood up for him as the chairman of his opioid commission and the chairman of his transition. But we lost, Laura. And we’ve got to get back to winning. We see the ramifications of not winning.
As always: The only problem with Trump and the coup and the 2020 denialism is that they . . . supposedly hurt Republican chances of electoral victory.
I don’t want to misinterpret all of the straight talk from the tough guy who’s willing to take stands and tell it like it is, so let me recapitulate the Chris Christie Experience for you:
Donald Trump is/was his good friend and they had/have a relationship based on mutual “respect.”1
Trump’s administration was marked by many policy successes and Christie supports all of Trump’s policies.
It is permissible for a presidential candidate to say—multiple times, over the course of years—that he may not accept the results of an election.
Trump’s mistake since 2020 has been focusing on the past and not looking to the future.
The sole reason this mistake matters is that it hurts Republican electoral prospects.
Chris Christie will not vote for Joe Biden in 2024 if Trump is the Republican nominee, yet will not say whether or not he would vote for Trump.
And no one, including Chris Christie, could have known what kind of president Trump would be.
So you can trust Chris Christie’s judgment and intestinal fortitude.
Sure, that all scans.
Christie ’24: This Is The Way
As I said in 2021, if you want to stop Donald Trump, you’re going to have to hold hands with some pretty distasteful figures—because once you start winning, the opportunists will jump on side and you need as big a majority as possible.
I get that. And even though Chris Christie is a distasteful opportunist, if he were useful to the cause, then we’d have to bite down on a stick and bear it.
But here’s the thing: He’s not.
How many divisions does Chris Christie have? He wasn’t able to assemble voter support in the pre-Trump days. He sold something like 3,000 copies of his last book. He may be the darling of TV bookers, but that’s the beginning and end of his base. He has neither credibility nor a constituency.
He takes no responsibility for his role in elevating Trump or for his error in judgment about what Trump was.
He refuses to acknowledge what Trumpism is. He criticizes it not as a danger to the country, but as a regrettable obstacle to Republican power.
He won’t state, clearly and unequivocally, that he will not, under any circumstance, vote for Trump in 2024.
And even if he made such a commitment, who could believe it?
Here is a thought experiment about Chris Christie: Let’s pretend it’s August 2024. Donald Trump has clinched the Republican nomination and he calls up his good friend, the former governor of New Jersey, and offers him the VP slot.
How much money would you be willing to wager on the proposition that Christie would not take it?
2. Hogan vs. Ultimate Warrior
I mentioned Abraham Josephine Riesman’s interview about politics and pro-wrestling yesterday. Deep in it, he makes the analogy that Trump vs. DeSantis feels a lot like the Hulk Hogan vs. Ultimate Warrior storyline in 1990.
Riesman bases her analogy on the idea that booking Hogan against the Warrior was an attempt to pit two babyfaces against one another without executing a heel turn, which goes against the standard narrative mechanics of wrestling.
In Riesman’s telling, both Trump and DeSantis are faces (to Republican voters) and this makes for an unsettling confrontation.
I think the analogy is even better than she realizes. Let me explain.