It's easy to forget that President Donald Trump almost chose New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie to be his vice presidential running mate. News reports from Monday make it clear why we should be grateful that Christie is not a heartbeat away from the presidency today. d
It isn't simply that photographer Andrew Mills was able to snap pictures of Christie and his family lounging on a beach that had been closed to New Jersey taxpayers due to a budget standoff. Those are plenty embarrassing for the governor, to be sure, but there is a deeper issue at play here.
That would be the fact that Christie has a long record of behaving as if his office makes the entire Garden State into his personal playground.
Sure, there is nothing illegal about Christie using a beach adjacent to the governor's Jersey Shore residence, even though it's off limits to all other residents (and during the Fourth of July weekend, no less). At the same time, it sends a very troubling message to New Jersey taxpayers about their leader's broader mentality. He expects them to make sacrifices in the name of his conservative fiscal policies, he is unwilling to do likewise because he think he's simply better than them.
I know, I know. That sounds like mind-reading. It's impossible to prove that an elected official actually believes he is better than the people he is supposed to serve. Then again, can you come up with another logical explanation for Christie's behavior?
The same thing can be said of the Bridgegate scandal. Considering that Christie won't be charged with any criminal offense, and that three investigations have failed to yield evidence that the governor was involved in the George Washington Bridge lane closures or even knew about them in advance, we can't outright accuse Christie of abusing his power in this situation.
But remember his notorious joke when someone mentioned the lane closures to him back in December 2013?
"I worked the cones, actually," Christie said. "Unbeknownst to everybody, I was actually the guy out there. I was in overalls and hat … but I was actually the guy working the cones out there."
That is the attitude of a man who, whether guilty or not, doesn't seem to think it's a big deal when the residents of his state are horribly inconvenienced for no good reason. If he did in fact know about the lane closures, or ordered them, that blasé attitude suddenly becomes downright craven.
None of this is meant to be a paean to Vice President Mike Pence, a dyed-in-the-wool theo-conservative who brings a whole lot of baggage of his own to the No. 2 job in the executive branch. But whatever you make of Pence, Christie's relaxing beach vacation -- on a beach no one else was allowed to visit -- perfectly captures his own distinct brand of awfulness.