In a lengthy news conference over a political scandal, the 2016 presidential prospect managed to keep the focus on his favorite subject.
Here are some things we learned about Chris Christie during his 108-minute apologia:
“I’m a very loyal guy.”
“I am not a focus-group-tested, blow-dried candidate.”
“I’ve worked for the last 12 years in public life developing a reputation for honesty.”
“I’ve engendered the sense and feeling among the people closest to me that we’re a family.”
“I’m a person who cares deeply about doing my job well.”
“I’m incredibly loyal to my people.”
“I was the class president and athlete.”
And this was all in the process of saying what he had done wrong in the George Washington Bridge fiasco that threatens to upend his presidential hopes. Christie apologized profusely — but not for anything he did. “I’m telling you, I had nothing to do with this,” he pleaded. Instead, he blamed bad people who lied to him, taking advantage of his trusting and honorable nature.
Even in disgrace, the New Jersey governor — and the nominal front-runner for the 2016 GOP nomination — managed to turn his nationally televised news conference into a forum on the virtues of his favorite subject: himself.
Use of the word “I”: 692 times.
When Christie delivered the keynote address at the 2012 nomination, the criticism was that he spoke more of himself than of Mitt Romney, the nominee. Now we see that, in adversity as well, Christie regards himself as the hero.
This tendency is what is likeliest to doom Christie’s presidential hopes — more than the details of “Bridgegate” or the question of whether he is a bully. Christie’s greatest obstacle is his own self-regard, and his blindness to the possibility that he might have erred.
Narcissism is the dominant theme in American politics today, and the man Christie would succeed in the Oval Office appears to suffer from an acute sense of his own righteousness. But Christie takes worship of self to a whole new level.
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