This short clip blew up social media last night, so I guess we have to talk about it, huh? Here's Gov. Chris Christie celebrating the Dallas Cowboys' playoff victory with team owner Jerry Jones at AT&T Stadium:
First, let's review the excruciating awkwardness of this moment from a physical standpoint. The camera cuts to Christie just as he's offering up his hands for a double high-five, which an ebullient Jones appears to fleetingly notice before turning away. Jones leans into a hug from another celebrant, and which point Christie latches on to the embrace. Still smiling, Jones grabs Christie's forearm -- an apparent acceptance of Christie's bro-hug advances -- prompting the other elated gentleman to pull Christie in closer. By the neck. And, scene. Yeah. In fairness, who among us hasn't been left hanging on a high five at some point? We've just never suffered the indignity of the perceived snub and its uncomfortable aftermath being broadcast live to a national audience. The most natural human impulse after such a sequence of events is to quickly convince yourself that the slight wasn't intentional and to pretend as if it hadn't really occurred. Unfortunately for Christie, millions of Americans saw what went down in real time, to say nothing of the virtual avalanche of gifs that swept across social media within minutes.
Next, let's talk sports. Considering that Christie is approximately the most "Jersey" governor in history, many Americans might reasonably assume that he's a fan of local sports teams. He must be a Giants or Jets fan, right? Maybe an Eagles fan. Those are the appropriate options. Except...Christie is apparently a life-long Cowboys fan. He's been on the record about that for quite some time. As an aside, I'm a Yankees (MLB), Devils (NHL) and Giants (NFL) fan, so Christie's devotion to the Mets, Rangers and Cowboys, respectively, could only be more objectionable if he rooted for the Boston Red Sox. Why does Christie cling to this obnoxious Death Star of a football franchise? That's between him and his God. I can't defend him. But I did offer a partial defense of him on Twitter, responding to people whose stomachs were turned by the spectacle of the governor celebrating in the owner's box:
Call me crazy, but maybe Christie is just a huge Cowboys fan doing what any sports fan in America would do in accepting a generous invite.— Guy Benson (@guypbenson) January 5, 2015
If the principal owner of any of my favorite teams phoned me up and invited me to take in a huge game from the comfort of his personal suite, I would immediately cancel any plan I'd made for that day (perhaps including my own wedding) and accept. This might make me a crazy person, but I'm comfortable with that. Christie's hung out with Jones at games in the past, but this was the playoffs, man. The governor appeared on a local sports radio show this morning to address the "controversy," suggesting that his detractors are envious of the Cowboys' success:
"When the Cowboys are losing the last game of the year, the last three seasons not to make the playoffs, there's nobody getting on social media giving me a hard time about being a Cowboys fan. So we all know what this is about," Christie said Monday morning on WFAN's "Boomer & Carton" radio show...Asked about the failed high five, Christie insisted it wasn't a snub. "It was pandemonium in there," he said in the radio interview. "It is difficult to describe the level of intensity in the Jones' box during these games ... Believe me, I'm sitting in Jerry Jones' box, how do I feel dissed?"
The man makes a good point. Finally, politically, I think this plays as a mixed bag. On one hand, Christie's done himself no favors in the early Michigan primary sweepstakes, and bouncing around like a school boy with an infamous billionaire on national TV isn't necessarily the best "man of the people" look of all time. (Democrats' extreme affluence and insanely rich friends never seem to be too much of problem for them). On the other, running for president requires influential, deep-pocketed friends. It looks as if Christie has made one. Also, I'd wager that an authentic, unapologetic sports fan pol with terrible tastes is still far preferable to most people than an aloof, BS-ing, pandering "sports fan" pol. Not to name any names...
I'll leave you with this sly suggestion, via Allahpundit:
Next week, Scott Walker will go to the Packers' game, root for his state's team, & sit in the cheap seats & freeze with the common people.— Bill Kristol (@BillKristol) January 5, 2015
Parting thought: Who knew that simple hugs could be such lightning rods?