The "I" in Christie's storm

Humility comes haltingly to Christie, if it comes at all. There wasn’t a scintilla of it at the 2012 Republican convention. His keynote speech there was broadly disparaged for the way the big I eclipsed the little mentions of Mitt Romney, in whose service it was supposedly being delivered. Chris Wallace, an anchor for Fox News, quipped, “For a moment, I forgot who was the nominee of the party.”

Humility was absent when Christie bragged to Dan Balz of The Washington Post about how many Republican luminaries pleaded with him to get into the 2012 race and save the party. Humility doesn’t factor into his habit, as governor, of having someone trail him to collect video of his trademark confrontations with naysayers so that these exchanges can be uploaded onto YouTube, viral testaments to his vaunted truth telling.

When a politician’s self-promotion scales the Olympian heights that his has scaled, a dangerous message goes out to aides, who assume that ascendance is everything and that victory vindicates anything: browbeating, rule-tweaking, a knot of traffic around the world’s busiest bridge.

Something else happens, too. Or, rather, doesn’t. Real friendships beyond a posse of loyalists aren’t made, though they’re essential. A politician needs not just acolytes and fair-weather allies but also peers who feel real admiration and deep affection and will be there when the storm comes.