In the South Park episode "Cartmanland," Eric Cartman buys a theme park so he can keep everybody else out. His scheme succeeds for a while, but fails when he realizes that, to pay for park maintenance, he has to let in more people, setting off a chain reaction by which everyone is let in, making him completely miserable. Chris Christie has much in common with Eric Cartman - and no, it's not that they both can't lay off the Cheesy Poofs. Like Cartman, everyone who has to deal with him hates him, as his current 15% approval rating in New Jersey indicates. Unlike Cartman, however, he actually had a petard to be hoisted on.
Back in 2011, he was such a Republican darling that Henry Kissinger, David Koch and Karl Rove urged him to jump in the race for President, even though he had stated repeatedly he wasn't running. He also managed to achieve a bipartisan moment when he accepted President Obama's help in combating the damage done by Hurricane Sandy. Of course, by 2015, when he was running for President, he was already denying having embraced the President and trying to save his reputation in the wake of the Bridgegate scandal. Although he was never charged in the trial that ensued, his associates were, and some were sentenced to prison for their act of petty political vengeance.
Christie's no dummy, and if he did know about Bridgegate, he kept it to himself, never leaving behind a smoking gun for the prosecution. But in the wake of New Jersey's government shutdown, leaving state parks, including the beaches, closed over the 4th of July weekend, Christie's decision to take a vacation with his family to the governor's residence at Island Beach State Park only proves that A) Chris Christie likes, or at least, tacitly approves of, shutting things down for his own benefit, and B) He has no sense of optics.
CNN has claimed that Christie has "stopped caring" about his reputation at this point, but there's a better question to be raised: did he ever care about it to begin with? Like many members of his party, he seems to have only one guiding principle for all his decisions, which is, to quote Eric Cartman, "Whatevah! I do what I want!" Deny hugging President Obama when all the evidence shows you embraced him? Whatevah! I do what I want! Support Donald Trump in spite of calling him "inexperienced" and a "13-year-old" in the primary? Whatevah! I do what I want! Wear a tight-fitting baseball uniform in spite of the fact that everyone's going to make fun of you for how awful you look in it? Whatevah! I do what I want! Close down the government and take a vacation on the taxpayer's dime? You guessed it - whatever! I do what I want! It's for reasons like this that Chris Christie lacked any temperament to be President - this is a man who only looks out for himself, and cannot accept the opinions of others.
When the photos of the Christie family, taken by aerial photographer Andrew Mills (all photos in this essay are his, and make sure you click that hyperlink to read his excellent piece on how he got them) made their internet debut yesterday, people were righteously pissed. In his defense, Christie claimed he "didn't get any sun," a lie so lame it makes you wonder how he ever sent Jared Kushner's father to prison, to which his spokesperson followed up that he was telling the truth because "he was wearing a hat." It's like they're so fed up with defending their boss that they're not even trying anymore.
And apparently, neither is Chris Christie, whose reputation is so toxic now that whatever good will he's built up throughout the years is no more. But hey, at least he got to sit on the beach this 4th of July weekend. By the way, Liberty Park is closed because of the shutdown, so you won't see any fireworks behind Lady Liberty's head this year. Why? One more time: Whatevah! I do what I want!