This hot mic story-lette with Chris Christie perfectly captures the current GOP: anguished maneuvering and contretemps all amounting to more or less nothing, Trump eagerly feasting on his rivals’ clumsy mistakes, all of it hilarious and yet leading to a very dark place.
If you didn’t see this yet, just before announcing the end of his campaign — kinda/sorta to clear the way for Nikki Haley — this happened …
Mr. Christie caused a stir before his remarks when he was caught on a hot microphone candidly discussing two rivals, Nikki Haley and Ron DeSantis, before making the announcement.
“She’s going to get smoked, and you and I both know it,” Mr. Christie could be heard saying of Ms. Haley. “She’s not up to this.” He added of Mr. DeSantis: “DeSantis called me, petrified.”
This is all 110% true.
Has he not perfectly captured both rivals? Trump seizes on these fresh bits of flesh because he knows exactly who he is and what he’s about. He’s evil and he wants to diminish and degrade anyone and everyone who challenges his rule of the GOP. All the rest are caught between wanting to defeat Trump by somehow being his friend and never criticizing him and hoping through some inexplicable alchemy they will defeat him by becoming him, replacing him. Did you get that? No wonder they seem clumsy and inept, constantly stepping on their own toes. Imagine a man trying to run in three directions at once and doing it with any grace or dignity. Sad!
Every day is a new opportunity for every one of these candidates to toss the zigzag obfuscation aside and actually run against Trump. I’m not saying they would win. Trump owns the party. But it would at least be clear, coherent. And I’m pretty certain that person would do better than any of these existing candidates has. Let’s be honest. It’s an easy claim since how could they really do worse? But I mean it more than in just that obvious guaranteed-to-be-true way. They could but they don’t. They fail because they come from the rot that made Trump possible.
Of course I never thought Chris Christie would be the Republican nominee. But I did think he would do better than this. I don’t mean that he would have polled better necessarily. I thought he would make a more respectable go of it. If there’s one thing I should have been able to trust Chris Christie to do it’s be a smart, nasty bully. He knows Trump because he’s a lot like Trump. But he’s not pathological and predatory like Trump. Wind him up and point him at the right target and there’s a righteousness to it.
I was shocked in the very first Republican debate that he just didn’t bring it. He promised and promised and promised. And then nothing. He had like one answer where he more or less attacked Trump. But that was it. In subsequent outings he barely did more. To this day I don’t really understand why he didn’t. He didn’t have it in him.