Chris Christie Jokes Are No Longer Just About His Weight
Chris Christie jokes used to be mostly about his weight.
As Matt Katz chronicles in American Governor, his recent biography of the New Jersey governor, Christie’s weight was an issue from the beginning of his political career. In 1995, a letter to the editor said he “resembled the Pillsbury Doughboy.” In the 2009 gubernatorial campaign, Jon Corzine accused Christie of “throwing his weight around.” The New York Post once headlined a story about Christie at the Wailing Wall with, “Whale at the Wall.”
Christie has lost weight. He used a pseudonym to check into a hospital to get lap-band surgery in 2013. (“I guess Springsteen’s no longer the band closest to the governor’s heart,” Katz quipped at the Trenton Legislative Correspondents Club dinner that year.) But the fat jokes keep coming, and Christie generally deals with them as anyone does: With a shrug, a self-deprecating joke and maybe a chuckle or two.
But Christie’s weight isn’t really why he’s been the butt of jokes recently. Now it’s just Christie himself.
New Jersey’s governor spent a lot of time out of the state while running for president; his approval rating plummeted. What did that get him? A 10th-place finish in Iowa, and a sixth-place finish in New Hampshire. He dropped out of the race after that.
Christie might’ve been able to slink back to New Jersey and work on building his legacy as governor at that point. But, instead, he actually endorsed Donald Trump for president. Donald Trump! This caused many of his allies to turn on him. The state’s newspapers called on him to resign.
And then he got made fun of when Trump told him to “get on the plane and go home.” He stood behind Trump at a victory rally and became the subject of many a meme. Later, he had to clarify: “No, I wasn’t being held hostage.” When you have to clarify that you’re not being held hostage, it’s not a good sign for your political prospects.
Christie took flak for missing a state trooper’s funeral so he could campaign for Trump. (He said he wasn’t attending anyway.)
Christie also had to clarify that he didn’t think Trump meant literal riots when he said people would riot if he didn’t get the nomination. Even Chris Christie’s son Andrew was mocked for signaling safe when he was clearly out during a Princeton baseball game. Christie even got mocked for showing up in Notre Dame’s locker room after the Fighting Irish won their second-round game in the NCAA men’s basketball tournament. (His daughter is a team manager.) “He’ll be here in Philly [in the next round],” Notre Dame coach Mike Brey said, “if Trump will let him.”
The South Jersey Times trashed the governor: “Christie’s not there for South Jersey, again.” Cartoonish Drew Sheneman called him “our sad clown.” Philly.com’s Rob Tornoe drew him as Trump’s lapdog. Jennifer Rubin, a Washington Post Republican columnist, summed it up: “Chris Christie is now ruined.”
That’s probably not true: If Donald Trump becomes president, Christie is sure to find a place in his administration. (Maybe as attorney general?) So he may still have a political career. But, no matter what, right now he’s become a joke: And it’s for legitimate reasons, not his weight.
Follow @dhm on Twitter.