On the eve of the Independence Day holiday, as millions of American families were planning time together at the beach or backyard barbecues, New Jersey residents were busy canceling plans and trying to find an alternative.
That’s because the state’s Governor, Chris Christie, ordered the beaches closed. Subsequent to this order, an enterprising photojournalist captured incriminating photos of Christie and his crew sunbathing on an otherwise empty beach. Most people saw this as ultimate nepotism. Meanwhile, the governor’s spokesman said his boss didn’t get “any sun” because he was “wearing a hat.”
The internet exploded. A meme war cut Christie out of a picture and placed him in a series of other photos, some famous and others just funny. The public, accustomed to mocking the New Jersey governor for other reasons, chose to respond to his apparent poor decision by ruthlessly slamming Christie online and in print. But perhaps nothing hit as close to the bone as an editorial in CNN by editor Chris Cillizza.
After detailing the governor’s flippant response to reporters asking about the issue, Cillizza explains that those comments were made after Christie told reporters “I didn’t get any sun today…” Which, subsequently lead to the “he wore a hat” quip. Christie did earn some points for tweeting that most of the New Jersey coastal beaches were open, however, a point Cillizza concedes, which didn’t make it into most coverage of the public relations gaffe. But that admission didn’t stop CNN from publishing the idea that Governor Christie just doesn’t care anymore.
The opinion piece cites a series of political embarrassments for the governor, including dropping out of the Presidential race, then “traveling around with Trump perhaps in hopes of winding up as the vice-presidential pick or a member of the cabinet … neither happened.” Named as head of the Presidential transition team, Christie was later “fired” by Trump, who then appointed VP Pence as his transition head.
The article goes on to point out Christie’s approval rating in his state was falling for multiple reasons, some having to do with the campaign, others with his contentious leadership of the state and what some called his heavy-handed style. How bad was it? Well, a Quinnipiac poll cited by CNN put Christie’s approval rating at 15 percent, the lowest for any governor of any state ever, according to Cillizza. Adding these facts with a few others, the piece assumes either Christie is actively trying to torpedo his political career, or he has just stopped caring. There is, of course, at least one more option, which has been heard loud and clear from Christie supporters in and out of the press. To wit, this is all much ado about nothing, that the guy got some sun and laughed it off … so what? Aren’t there worse things in the world?
So, has Christie really stopped caring? And, if so, what will that charge do to his political aspirations beyond the Governor's office? Will it be a benefit or a detriment to his plans to secure a spot in a presumptive second Trump administration? Or is this, yet again, more red meat for partisans who love to hate New Jersey’s brash leader?