CLEVELAND – Chris Christie’s speech Tuesday night at the Republican National Convention stood in stark contrast to Ted Cruz’s defiant remarks last night. Christie’s speech could only have been delivered by a man completely out of options.
Having endorsed Trump back in February, Christie had little choice but to suck it up and do his best at the RNC. He couldn’t make history like Cruz did with his refusal to endorse Trump and an exhortation to “vote your conscience.”
Instead, Christie staged an embarrassing mock trial of Hillary Clinton, to hold her “accountable for her performance and her character.” He then proceeded to present the “facts” about Clinton’s various “crimes” (like “putting herself ahead of America”) and then asked the crowd to declare her “guilty, or not guilty,” as if he were a Caesar presiding over gladiator games, or carnival barker in a circus tent. The crowd loved it, alternating screaming “GUILTY!” and “LOCK HER UP!” Everyone had a ball.
It was the speech he would have given if he had been picked to be Donald Trump’s vice president. The VP snub from Trump crowned months of humiliation for Christie. First there was the rally in February when a hot mic picked up Trump telling Christie to “get on the plane and go home.” Then there was the “wordless screaming,” the moment when Christie realized what he’d done as he stood on stage behind Trump at a post-Super Tuesday news conference in March. Then, saddest of all, came reports that Trump was making Christie pick up his McDonald’s orders and his dry-cleaning.
But in the end Christie wasn’t picked for VP—and according to Trump campaign manager Paul Manafort, Christie was “livid” about it. Yet there he was Tuesday night, thundering against Clinton from the convention stage and assuring the delegates that Trump is a “caring, genuine and decent person.” Maybe he’s hoping to get a spot in Trump’s cabinet as attorney general, or as anything, really. So long as he’s not left behind.
By now, one thing is clear: whatever is left of Christie exists only to serve his one true master, Trump. Chris Christie is a Ring-wraith.
For the uninitiated, in J.R.R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, the Ring-wraiths are the disembodied spirits of mortal men, the nine “great lords” of Númenor, to whom the evil Sauron gave rings of power. The nine were eventually deceived by Sauron, who bound their rings to the One Ring and thus enslaved them all. They are the Nazgûl, “the most terrible servants of the Dark Lord,” who “dwell in the realm of shadows.”
Of course, they exist only to serve their one true master. They cannot be humiliated or scorned. They neither hunger nor sleep. They desire nothing but to do the will of their Dark Lord.
In exactly the same way, Christie proved Tuesday night that his political existence is that of a disembodied spirit, a Nazgûl lord enslaved to the will of another—Trump, his undisputed master.
Christie won’t be the only Ring-wraith to come out of this election cycle. There’s Indiana Gov. Mike Pence, Trump’s hapless VP pick. There’s one-time GOP wunderkid Marco Rubio, who has finally endorsed Trump and addressed the RNC Wednesday night. There’s Louisiana Gov. Bobby Jindal, who called Trump a “narcissist” and an “egomaniacal madman,” but now supports him. There’s Texas Gov. Rick Perry, whose web page about “defending conservatism against the cancer of Trumpism” now looks like this.
There are countless others, the Ring-wraiths of the GOP, all of them ready and willing to sacrifice whatever principles or integrity they once had, all for the promise of power.