The problem with Chris Christie, it seems, is not so much that he is a political bully who quickly turns to vindictiveness and retribution when he doesn’t get his own way. It is that our politics have been so “feminized” that the sort of manly, aggressive, healthy pugilism that Christie indulges in with his political enemies is widely considered a weakness rather than an expression of his depth of character.
There are other reasons Americans have not lifted Christie to their shoulders on learning that his people were behind the four days of jams on the George Washington Bridge to punish the Fort Lee residents for electing a Democrat. Christie simply cannot get a fair hearing on Bridgegate so long as the press refuses to acknowledge Hillary Clinton’s part in the murder of Ambassador Stephens in Benghazi.
That eccentric account of Christie’s current scandal-ridden dilemma is the view from Fox News, presided over by Roger Ailes and Rupert Murdoch, both of whom appear to see in Christie a kindred spirit. Both believe Christie’s rough-and-tumble approach to politics and his devil-may-care attitude to his opponents, as well as the handling of his chronic obesity, show a genius for retail politics that few other Republican wannabes can match. Christie is the opposite of Willard “Mitt” Romney, whose smooth looks and awkward, alien manner caused the testosterone-fueled Murdoch and Ailes to blanch.
Before Ailes and his network muddied the waters of Bridgegate, giving every excuse for a Fox viewer to dismiss the affair as a set-up job by Christie’s opponents, Murdoch offered more tangible advice to his favorite GOP presidential hopeful. Using Twitter as a bully pulpit, Murdoch did not use all 140 characters to order Christie what to do when, after Hurricane Sandy, President Obama landed to comfort victims on the Jersey Shore.
The governor hugged and petted the president like a long-lost family dog, leaving Romney feeling betrayed — Christie had “allowed Obama to be president, not a politician” — and Murdoch fuming that such warmth and good manners towards the president would help Obama be re-elected. Murdoch instructed the governor: “Christie, while thanking O, must re-declare for Romney, or take blame for next four dire years.” Christie duly made his peace with Murdoch by telephone and the next day gave Romney a prominent boost.