Commentary: The Bully Puppet

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Part-time New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie has tried to market himself using a number of different slogans over the years: Stronger than the Storm, Telling it like it is, Strong leadership now.

But after the neutered bully decided to back his former rival, hateful orangutan Donald Trump, there’s only one quote that Christie should attach to any future campaign he runs:

“I try to squeeze all the juice out of the orange that I can.”

That was Christie back in 2012. After traveling to Israel on a “trade mission” paid for by casino mogul Sheldon Adelson, Christie and his family went on to Jordan, where they lounged in a private residence provided by King Abdullah, complete with a desert champagne reception. Christie’s aides “fretted” the $30,000 tab would look bad if the public every found out.

It’s no secret that Christie has developed a taste for the finer things in life. During another “trade mission” to London, Christie and his team stayed at the luxurious Corinthia Hotel, putting New Jersey taxpayers on the hook for the $600 per night rooms.

Back in the 2012 presidential campaign, he told Mitt Romney “he would do out-of-state events only if he was given a private plane,” even while Romney’s wife flew commercial.

Even back when he was U.S. Attorney, Christie belly grumbled with hunger for the finer things. According to a Department of Justice report, Christie exceeded the government rate without adequate justification more than any other U.S. Attorney. When he traveled to meetings in Boston, he stayed at the Nine Zero Hotel (one of Travel and Leisure magazine’s 500 best hotels in the world), where the $449 per night room rate was more than double the government rate. Same with a trip to Washington, D.C., where his Four Seasons room cost taxpayers $475 per night.

So while pundits grasp at straws in an attempt to explain Christie’s perplexing metamorphosis from alpha to lapdog, I tend to think the simplest answer is probably the correct one – he wants to enjoy the luxurious perks associated with providing support to a wealthy racist wearing a toupee.

Just think of Trump as Christie’s new orange, ripe for the squeezing.

Otherwise, this political partnership makes no sense. Defending his decision to back the human gasbag of bigotry, on Sunday Christie struggled to name a single policy he agrees with Trump on. He said he wouldn’t support forcing Mexico to pay for Trump’s wall, doesn’t back Trump’s plan to ban Muslims from traveling to the U.S. and disagrees with Trump’s plan to reform Social Security.

“I’m not going to support everything that happens in any campaign,” Christie told ABC’s George Stephanopoulos, probably as he counted the number of days he was planning on staying in the $20,000 per night presidential suit at the Trump International Hotel & Tower in Toronto.

It’s also clear Christie’s support of Trump isn’t winning him any friends or favors in the Republican Party.

“Chris is a dear friend, but none of us understands why he did this,” Rubio supporter Nikki Haley told Stephanopoulos. Christie’s former campaign co-chair, Hewlett-Packard CEO Meg Whitman, called Christie’s endorsement “an astonishing display of political opportunism.” Former New Jersey Gov. Christie Whitman, also a Republican, said she was “ashamed that Christie would endorse anyone who has employed the kind of hate mongering and racism that Trump has.”

No, I think Christie’s endorsement just bought a lifetime supply of trips on private jets to luxury boxes at sporting events across the globe. It bought free stays at some of the most expensive and exclusives hotels on the planet.

And it accomplishes what seems to have been Christie’s goal since being elected governor – getting the hell out of New Jersey.

So when Trump dismissively told Christie just moments after receiving his former rival’s endorsement to “Get on the plane and go home,” he didn’t realize that on that private jet, sitting on the rich leather seat next to the expensive champaign and delicate caviar, Christie was already home.

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Rob Tornoe is a cartoonist and WHYY contributor. Follow Rob on Twitter @RobTornoe, and email him at robtornoe@gmail.com.

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