No one politician has been more comically tortured by the Trump administration than Chris Christie. No one else staked so much – reputation, dignity, self-respect and honor – on the new president, only to have it ripped away. No one else has so totally debased himself for so little.
And this was before we knew the Trump-punching-bag-formerly-known-as-the-governor-of-New-Jersey was commanded by the president to order meat loaf at a recent White House luncheon, and nothing else. Trump delights in humiliating him and Christie smiles in return like it’s an inside joke.
Then, like a classic cornered bully, Christie lashes out at others.
"The Phillies suck," Christie said, this week on a New York sports TV show. “Let's just start with that. They're from Philadelphia. They're an awful team. They're an angry, bitter fan base and it's not safe for civilized people to go to Citizens Bank Park if you want to root for the other team.”
“Ya gotta believe what?” Christie continued. “Ya gotta believe we're awful people!"
(I gotta believe you should be worrying more about Bridgegate, but that’s neither here nor there.)
Christie, of course, was referring to Tug McGraw, the beloved pitcher who died from cancer in 2004 and whose famous catchphrase “Ya gotta believe” became the battle cry of the 1973 Mets. That team rallied from last place to a near World Series victory, capturing the heart of a city, the nation and world. At least that’s how it was told to me. What can I say? I’m from Brooklyn.
Apparently, he also played for the Phillies. (I kid.)
The Phils recently adorned the hallways of their minor league facilities in Clearwater with McGraw’s slogan. Some Mets fans, like Christie, were bothered.
I share some loyalties with the governor, regrettably. I don’t like that he likes the same things I do, but I love the Mets.
As much as it pains me, I must now defend the Phillies. The city’s honor is at stake. Chris Christie is a blowhard at a time when we’ve had enough of 'em. Even if it’s just baseball.
For guidance, I reached out to Mayor Kenney, who once famously tweeted that Christie was a “fat-assed…creep” for his allegiance to the Dallas Cowboys.
He hadn’t yet heard about Christie’s remarks when I talked to him Thursday.
“Oh, Tug, come on,” the mayor said, horrified that Christie would dare tarnish the Tugger’s memory.
The Mayor said he’s taking a new approach when it comes to Christie: one of compassion.
He’s a failed, bitter person, the mayor said, a phrase he would return to.
“He really has nothing to do but put other people down and expose his bitter nature because he’s disappointed with his bitter failures,” Kenney said. “It’s not fun going back and forth with a guy who has no sense of humor and who is just bitter for his failed career.”
I called my buddy Joe from the Northeast, last seen in this column pouring a beer on the head of a Mets fan from the old 300 Level. Joe is practicing his Philly salute should he ever encounter the governor: “Double middle fingers.”
But even Joe was aghast at the governor’s words.
“You’re an elected official and you’re talking about people, any type of people, that way – it’s a disgrace,” said Joe. “I feel bad for the people of New Jersey.”
Maybe Christie is trying his hand at Trumpian politics: distraction by insult. Maybe he’s trying to get everyone to look away from his disgrace. Maybe he wants to get back to the White House for one more slice of meat loaf. Or maybe he’s trying out his sports broadcasting chops because he knows that’s all that’s left for him. And though I’m having fun with it, it’s not funny. It’s the last squawks of a failing politician. Sad!
I go to as many games as I can when the Mets come to town. I’ve never had a problem. Then again, I’m not Chris Christie. I once interviewed Christie about his love of his alma mater, the University of Delaware’s Fightin’ Blue Hens football team. The then newly sworn-in governor described how in college he and his pals would dance to their seats in a conga line, shaking maracas.
Governor Christie, I beseech you, I will pay for your ticket even: Please come to a Phillies-Mets game at Citizen Bank Park this summer, break out your maracas and conga to your seat. We’ll all very politely give you the Philly salute.