Politically speaking? Christie’s worst mistake wasn’t Bridgegate. Not even close.

Hindsight is 20/20, Save Jerseyans. We all know that.

Governor Chris Christie shared a little of his own on Wednesday’s edition of Morning Joe, confessing that the biggest mistake of his nearly-complete two terms in Trenton was “hiring the people who pulled the shenanigans” at the George Washington Bridge way back in 2013 during his reelection campaign…

But is it true?

Looking back, those politically-motivated lane closures (for which three Christie world figures bought themselves criminal records) DID seem to coincide with the beginning of the end of Christie.

Two relatively short years before? Around September 2011? Nancy Reagan, Henry Kissinger, and even President George H.W. Bush and his formidable wife, Barbara, all implored the New Jersey Republican to enter to the 2012 presidential sweepstakes. Christie was the one, they reasoned, who could beat Obama.

And maybe he could have. Remember: in many ways, Trump stole Chris Christie’s playbook. Christie had a populist touch — but with much better powers of articulation than the Donald — which enabled him to win the governor’s mansion in an objectively less-than-red state like New Jersey.

Christie, however, ultimately soaked in the limelight and balked.

He didn’t run.

“It’s not the right time. 2016,” his blindly-loyal acolytes told the rest of us back in those days.

Wrong! Time makes the man, and you don’t get to decide when it’s your turn to be president.

The presidency chooses you by opening the door. You can either walk through it or stand there, gaping, when the door smacks you in the face.

The rest is history. He “hugged” Obama and arguably helped the incumbent Democrat president appear more presidential than his challenger, Mitt Romney, during the Sandy-dominated final days of Election 2012.

Christie then waited and plotted to build a 2013 reelections super majority in New Jersey, one which would prove the notion that he’s the one Republican capable of uniting the disparate elements of the old Reagan coalition. Objective #1 towards that lofty goal? Entice, cajole and coerce Democrats into backing his claim through the power of the Governor’s Office of Governmental Affairs… which, as we all now know, led Christie’s deputy chief of staff to encourage/direct, whatever, Christie World operatives over at the Port Authority of New York and New Jersey to close Fort Lee lanes to the George Washington Bridge in September 2013.

Christie won an Pyrrhic victory that November. I was there that night in Asbury Park. It was a cold, sterile, highly-produced affair, not at all like the warm, exuberant “We blew up the Death Star” feel of his 2009 victory celebration in Parsippany when Christie had drank and mixed with his elated foot soldiers like a successful Nordic conqueror leading his warband over the battlements. Nope. He hadn’t brought a single Republican across the finish line with him in 2013 despite successfully executing a major landslide (by design) and, in the end, found himself getting investigated by the Democrats he refused to challenge just a few short months later. Like Nixon before him.

He had doomed his own agenda, and made himself a lame duck, before the returns were even finished coming in… and no one knew it, least of all the Governor.

Today? Chris Christie is nusring a 16% approval rating and even sports talk radio stations aren’t sure he’s good for the brand.

So no, the mistake was NOT made in September 2013. Bridgegate wasn’t the proximate cause for the fall of the House of Christie.

You’ve got to look a little further back, to September 2011, when Chris Christie thought he knew better than Henry Kissinger.

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About the Author

Matt Rooney
Matt Rooney

Save Jersey’s Founder and Blogger-in-Chief, MATT ROONEY is a nationally-noted and respected New Jersey political commentator. When he’s not on-line, radio or television advocating for conservative reform and challenging N.J. power-brokers, Matt is a practicing attorney at the law firm of DeMichele & DeMichele in Haddon Heights (Camden County).