I’m not suggesting a direct comparison in moving immediately from questions about Anthony Weiner’s ego to that of Chris Christie, and have zero reason to believe Christie’s sexual or internet habits are anything out of the ordinary. But still, it’s interesting how often the New Jersey governor’s self-regard comes up in assessments of him as a potential POTUS. At the New York Times today, Jonathan Martin captured the uneasiness about Christie quite vividly in a discussion of his role in the 2012 campaign, as revealed by WaPo political reporter Dan Balz in his upcoming book Collision 2012:
Mr. Christie’s recounting of his role in 2012 also offers a reminder of his high — some would say excessive — self-regard, and why some in Mr. Romney’s campaign were so uneasy about possibly putting him on the Republican ticket last year. It is hardly unusual for a politician to have an outsized ego, but Mr. Christie lacks the masking subtlety possessed by many in his business.
At one point, the governor recalls how he bluntly told Mr. Romney to seek his approval before raising money from donors based in New Jersey. Mr. Christie makes no apologies about protecting his turf as his party’s primary got going.
“So it was a rather tense conversation between the two of us in February of ‘11, and I heard later from others that he left not very happy with the approach I took,” Mr. Christie recalls.
Even when Mr. Christie is attempting self-deprecation, he veers toward false modesty….
Mr. Christie…recalled how, the weekend after he had announced he would stay out of the race, he and his wife hosted Mr. Romney and his wife, Ann, at their home in New Jersey. Mr. Christie abruptly told Mr. Romney, after two hours of conversation, that he needed no persuading — he was ready to endorse the former Massachusetts governor.
“He got this shocked look on his face and he turned to Ann almost as validation that his ears had worked right, and she had this big smile on her face and she was nodding,” recounted Mr. Christie.
After Mr. Christie said he did not want any favors or campaign titles in return, Mr. Romney turned to his wife and said, “Wow, Christmas in October.”
Turning back to Mr. Christie, Mr. Romney said, “Governor, you don’t know how important and big this is.”
To which Mr. Christie said, “I do.”
Now if Christie does decide to run for president in the future, his “self-regard” could help him endure the grueling and often ego-challenging aspects of the contemporary campaign trail. But if Martin’s right and he lacks the “masking subtlety” needed to profess humility, or at least a momentary doubt that he’s stooping to conquer in having to ask people to recognize his manifest superiority, that could be a problem. You don’t want to come across as arrogant when you are begging a Super-PAC donor to toss you a few million dollars for savage attack ads on a rival, or seeking the approbation of conservative activists seething with suspicion of “the Establishment” at some Pizza Ranch in Iowa. The real Powers That Be in today’s Republican Party want you to have the courage of their convictions, not the confidence born of too many years of looking in a mirror with great satisfaction.
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