The OZY Hunger Games: Chris Christie’s Road Gets Blocked
WHY YOU SHOULD CARE
Because if you’re going to shout down the opposition, you’d better have the loudest voice.
By Sean Braswell
Remember how The Hunger Games would honor its fallen tributes? In this occasional series, OZY predicts which presidential candidates will be the next to fall — whether they know it or not.
A “Telling It Like It Is” campaign seemed like a good idea at the time, Gov. Christie. Many Americans are hungry for a straight-talking, no-nonsense D.C. outsider as president. And in the last Republican debate, you showed again why no politician can commandeer a room with the sheer audacity of his bluntness quite like Chris Christie.
Well, almost no one. You see, the bull-in-the-china-shop routine works only if that shop hasn’t already been hit by a Category 5 hurricane of chutzpah. And there’s an elephant in the room, and on that stage, one who’s also a New York–area street fighter who “says what he means and means what he says.” Donald Trump hasn’t just stolen your political act, governor — he’s also much better at performing it. And even though it remains to be seen whether the “whole race changed” (as you claim) after the tongue lashing you gave Marco Rubio on Saturday, it’s pretty clear after last night that it’s not you that it’s changing for (your campaign did not respond to requests for comment).
This is a crowded road to the White House, and your lane just closed.
While you’ve spent years coyly dancing around your own (apparently moderate) view on immigration reform, the Donald is boasting about how he will “force” Mexico to build a border wall. As you skirt around what needs to be done about climate change (which you admit is real), Trump labels it a flat-out “hoax.” Let’s face it: When it comes to telling it like it is — or isn’t — he’s got more braggadocio in his crooked smirk than you have in however many pounds of pugnacity you’re carrying around the campaign trail these days.
You may have dropped more than 100 pounds from weight-loss surgery in 2013, but your candidacy has been taking on nothing but extra baggage over the past few years. From the outcry over your infamous hugging of President Obama in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy to the Bridgegate scandal a few months later, in which some of your top aides allegedly orchestrated lane closures on the George Washington Bridge to exact revenge on a small-town mayor who had declined to endorse you, nothing seems to be going your way. And if one controversial hug wasn’t enough, you doubled down earlier this year when you bear-hugged Dallas Cowboys owner Jerry Jones (even though the Cowboys are the mortal enemy of two of New Jersey’s favorite football teams: the New York Giants and the Philadelphia Eagles).
New Jersey Republicans, your supposed base, haven’t been impressed by the objects of your affections and even less so by the record-breaking nine credit downgrades the state has endured under your watch. According to one November poll, only 5 percent of Garden State GOP voters would vote for you in 2016 (compared with 32 percent for Trump), and 60 percent think you should end your campaign. With national polls showing an even bleaker picture (giving you around 3 percent of the vote), your chances of winning the presidency now hover somewhere between slim and none. And, as you have no doubt heard before, slim just left town.
It’s time to tell it like it is: This is a crowded road to the White House, and your lane just closed. It would be wise to exit the turnpike and find an alternative route. Please toot your horns for/at the fallen, Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey.