Ambition can be dangerous. Not just for the ambitious man or woman, but for the country – for all those who ally with the ambitious person.
For the last eight years, one of the most ambitious men in politics has been New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. Hailed as a conservative darling after taking on teacher’s unions in New Jersey – brash language about “punching them in the face” marked his rise as a political force and an up-and-comer in presidential politics – Christie has nearly singlehandedly destroyed the Republican Party in two straight presidential elections.
In 2012, Christie was considered and rejected for vice president by Mitt Romney – but then gave the keynote speech in primetime at the Republican convention. There, he spent the bulk of his time talking about his own wonders, ignoring Romney completely. Fox News’ Chris Wallace called the speech “the most curious keynote speech I have ever heard…For a moment I forgot who was the nominee of the party.”
Then, the week before the election, Hurricane Sandy hit the East Coast. While New York Governor Andrew Cuomo told President Obama that his presence was unnecessary, Christie invited Obama to New Jersey, then hugged him and took him on a tour of Atlantic City, where they made political love along the boardwalk underneath the cloudy skies. “I cannot thank the president enough for his personal concern and compassion for our state,” Christie said, adding that it was “my honor” to introduce President Obama. Christie was, at the time, facing down rumors that then-Newark Mayor Corey Booker, who is black, would run against him. As The New York Times noted, “The scene played out on televisions around the country like a stirring campaign ad that hit themes of bipartisanship and crisis management – only it was run free of charge.”
Obama surged in the final days and beat Romney handily.
Fast forward three years.
Christie was running in the Republican primaries. He’d done nothing much in the polls; his only hope was to somehow do well in New Hampshire. He had no support in states like South Carolina or Nevada, or southern states dominated by support for Donald Trump, Ted Cruz, and Marco Rubio. So, naturally, he used his presence at the debate before the New Hampshire primary – a state in which Rubio was surging following his Iowa showing – to destroy Rubio. Christie rightly labeled Rubio a robotic candidate, Rubio repeated himself, Christie hit him again – and Rubio fell apart in the polling. Trump ran away with the state. Almost immediately, Christie quit the race and fell in behind Trump. Thanks in large part to Christie’s help, Trump won the nomination.
Now, with Trump surging in the polls the week before his general election against Hillary Clinton, Christie has struck again: this time, two of his top aides have been found guilty on all charges related to Bridgegate, the scandal in which the Christie administration allegedly blocked bridges in order to punish a local Democrat who wouldn’t endorse Christie’s re-election bid. This story will allow the media to shift its focus to the Trump campaign, since Christie is leader of Trump’s White House transition team. In a tight election, it could be enough to hand Hillary the White House.
So thanks, Chris Christie.
The Democrats couldn’t have done it without you.