When Hernando Cortez landed on the beach at Veracruz, he burned his ships to ensure that his men had no option but to follow him. When Chris Christie landed on Island Beach Saturday in New Jersey, he only set fire to the remains of his political career. The New Jersey Star-Ledger got aerial photos of Christie and his family enjoying the pleasure of the public beach — which Christie had ordered closed for everyone else in the middle of a budget battle with the state legislature.
It’s good to be king … er, governor:
But there was one family there: Christie’s. They are using the summer beach house provided by the state for a weekend down the Shore.
Remember when people considered Chris Christie an up-and-comer in national Republican politics? Heck, remember when the New Jersey governor still had political ambitions? This looks like Christie’s studying up for retirement:
— Tony Dearing (@TonyDearing) July 2, 2017
— Daniel Dale (@ddale8) July 3, 2017
And it only got worse. From this suddenly private beach, Christie went by helicopter to the capital in Trenton to continue his hardball play on the shutdown. Reporters there had apparently been tipped off to Christie’s recreational activities — but Christie didn’t know that at first:
At that news conference, Christie was asked if he got any sun Sunday.
“I didn’t,” he said. “I didn’t get any sun today.”
When later told of the photo, Brian Murray, the governor’s spokesman, said: “Yes, the governor was on the beach briefly today talking to his wife and family before heading into the office.”
“He did not get any sun,” Murray added. “He had a baseball hat on.”
Come on, man. In the first tweet, Christie can be seen sitting in shorts and a t-shirt looking up at the sun. He didn’t just stroll down to the beach for a quick chat. He’s enjoying the use of the beach, which is a lot more than the rest of his constituents can say.
His defense is that the house (shown in the second tweet) belongs to the state, and is specifically for the governor’s enjoyment. State police provide security, and they are unaffected by the showdown. When asked if it was fair that his family got to use the facility while he shut down beaches around the state for everyone else, Christie suggested that critics try running for governor:
During a news conference in Trenton on Saturday, Christie said it was his right to stay in the park even if no one else can visit.
“That’s because the governor has a residence at Island Beach. Others don’t,” Christie said. “It’s just the way it goes. Run for governor and then you can have the residence.” …
“I don’t know if it’s fair,” he said on Friday as a midnight budget deadline grew close. “But they’re not asking for any services. The houses are the governor’s houses, and they’re not asking for any services.”
Well, that’s certainly one way to look at it. A politician who cared about whether voters would ever elect him to another office would probably have asked his family to choose another recreational activity after ordering the shutdown of beaches for everyone else. Christie does not appear to care whether anyone wants to vote for him at all, as Chris Cillizza notes this morning, and it may be because Christie’s aiming to win an appointment with someone who appreciates chutzpah:
Christie is term-limited out of office early next year. He has zero interest in running for the US Senate and couldn’t get elected to one of those seats even if he did want to wind up in the world’s greatest deliberative body.
Christie’s only option is to be a second-wave Trump administration appointee; he is regularly rumored as a chief of staff possibility if and when Reince Priebus leaves or is ushered out.
And, if there’s anyone out there who l-o-v-e-s Christie sunbathing while the beaches are shut down, it’s Trump. The President digs anyone who thumbs his nose at convention. If you can feud with the press too, well, that’s a double bonus in the eyes of Trump.
When you see Christie on the beach then, you see a man who has stopped caring. He knows he is done as a politician in New Jersey — and that his only possible future rests in the hands of a man who has built a political career on flouting convention.
It’s good to be the king. And when you can’t be king any longer, it ain’t bad to be the footman of the king.
Update: Maybe it’s not so good to be the footman of the king. Kim Guadagno, Christie’s lieutenant governor, ripped her former running mate for this show of arrogance:
If I were governor, I sure wouldn’t be sitting on the beach if taxpayers didn’t have access to state beaches. It’s beyond words.
We need to end the shutdown now. It’s hurting small businesses and ordinary New Jerseyans. Instead of political games, Governor Christie, Speaker Prieto and Senate President Sweeney should pass a budget that delivers property tax relief and puts taxpayers first.
Guadagno is running to succeed Christie, it should be noted, and does not have the luxury of allowing her prospects to be burned up as kindling in Christie’s fire sale on credibility.