Man in the Mirror
(If you must, read Maureen Dowd’s original column here)
The unlikely man fatale (get it, fat-ale?) from Jersey waddled into a Trenton news conference and broke a lot of hearts.
Watching Chris Christie hold court for an hour, it’s hard to know whether you want to hug him or slap him. You can put me in the slap column even though there’s something both lovable and irritating about the man: think adorable puppy that keeps soiling the floor.
It’s not Christie’s old Clintonesque puffed up body that’s off-putting. It’s not the old Clintonesque puffed up id that’s off-putting. It’s the puffed up Clintonesque ego.
He skipped the line that he was not ready to be president and made it clear that, oh, yeah, he’s just one of any number of people who are ready to make sure Obama is “a one-termer,” but he can’t afford to be in a romance to win Republicans or long-been-back-on-the-market independents just now.
He wants to stay with his state — “New Jersey, whether you like it or not, you’re stuck with me” — and doesn’t want to be a dilettante quitter like grizzly-vixen Sarah Palin.
The Uncontained and full of himself Christie asserted that Contained and self-evidently emptied Obama has “failed the leadership test.” But the brain-of-clay president benefits from Republican erotomania about the New Jersey governor; all that unfulfilled longing underscores the inadequacy of the G.O.P. field, to which the unbiased media will again turn our attentions. But it would sure have been fun to have a fat Republican candidate.
Tuesday’s show was designed to be a humble bow off the large stage for the triple XL governor. But he practically needed a fork lift to displace his ego. Asked about criticism that’s he’s too liberal for his party, he shot back without comment, grazing a camera man and a cub reporter from Jackson, Mississippi.
Some suggested Christie’s weight made him too fat to be elected president. But he was fat enough to be elected by the mega-blue New Jersey voters, aided in large part not by his girth, but riding the storm surge of the failed Obama experiment. So what’s that say for the current crop of Republican presidential candidates?
We’re fated to yearn for qualities in presidents that we found missing in the last one, so Americans are once again intrigued by competence and leadership.
When Obama’s handlers burst him onto the scene, his lithe frame signaled youth and energy and a sort of worldly malnourishment. He seemed well-read and well-briefed, yet he traveled light in the loafers, a true metrosexual with an airy gate and a sleek look. He nibbled at food and drank Black Forest Berry Honest Tea, avoiding all the campaign junk the rest of us inhaled. Obama instead smoked Marlboros but didn’t inhale.
But his not-George-Bush-not-Hillary-Clinton ploy was just a reflection of his card-carrying membership in the left’s technocratic priesthood —a vacuous intellectual and policy dustbin for today’s starving economy. He’s a basket case who surrounds himself with head cases, even when they have helped wreck the economy he says he’s trying to save.
Christie looks less interested in head cases than in cases of Guinness Stout with a heaping-helping of cheese steak and salt water taffy on the side. The Republican’s girth seems reassuring in lean times. Studies have shown that during slumping economies, blind men find plumper women more attractive. So why shouldn’t blinded voters find plumper pols more appealing?
New books by Ron Suskind and Jeffrey Sachs suggest President Obama willingly allowed himself to be captured by the crony capitalists, a green jobs agenda, and unions that hurt America. Americans who have been hurt want to identify the villains, but Obama is loath to target villains and prefers to target America’s small towns, cities, and in some cases, its states.
Christie can be a bully, but that may seem better than the alternative: a president who is a clueless wimp. The Jersey governor loves to identify villains, from state legislators resisting his will (“drunks”) to teachers resisting a pay freeze (“using children for political purposes”) to me (“just ignorant”).
As Roy Romano wrote in Newsweak last year, Christie’s background as a prosecutor instilled a Manichaean instinct: “Christie uses the bully pulpit to make his opponents look foolish. They are the villains; he is the hero. To my knowledge, he’s the first to ever do such a thing.”
People are longing for a president who can understand their pain, mix it up, and get improvements — not one who gazes at his teleprompter, avoids policies benefiting Americans, disdains Congress, wastes time golfing, cedes the space program to the Chinese, and fails to do anything useful.
Our nuanced president sticks to gray, non-toxic crayons, while the no-nonsense governor, as Joe Scabborrow noted, “draws using primary colors.” Christie said he spent the weekend trying to “see whether I could look in the mirror and make that call.” Because he’s too fat to get a good view, he says he’s going to “tear off the rearview mirror.”
The same can’t be said for jilted, lovesick Democrats, still looking in the rearview mirror for a challenger to Obama and finding only the usual suspects, Hillary Clinton, John Kerry, and anyone associated with the Kennedys.