Chris Christie and the existentialist we never knew

It isn’t often that we get to discuss ideas in New Jersey politics but the governor gave us that rare opportunity this afternoon as he Jean-Paul-Sartre1rendered his own personal diagnosis of that condition assailing the country.

Jimmy Carter once called it a “crisis of confidence,” code for “malaise.”

Now Christie would quote Dennis Kucinich sooner than Carter, so he couldn’t very well use “malaise.”

His frequent critics – and you could see their faces to the governor’s right as he stormed the Assembly Chamber – have long chafed under headlines of the New Jersey governor’s extravagant national travels.

But the governor – with a straight face tinged with tenderness in today’s State of the State – suggested that his national tramping as chairman of the Republican Governors Association (RGA) was actually a way to better get a bead on the national pulse – in the Heartland.

And while never speaking the name of President Barack Obama, the man he hopes to supplant in the White House, what he came back here with was a sense, he said, of America’s “anxiety.”


Now that is a word that not many North American men feel comfortable uttering, its associations unconsciously tied to a variety of French intellectualism and the likes of Camus, Sartre (pictured) and even worse – Kierkegaard, that Danish forefather of those latter day existentialists who lingered on the notion of not exactly fear or dread – but, yes, “anxiety.”

Inveterate tough guy Christie unveiled the word carefully, as if astonished by his own use of a word that must have been new to his ears.

But we must express misgivings about this concept as he goes forward, if not a little – and, yes, even if it hurts to admit it – anxiety.

For one: is that a word of deep impact diagnosis when so much of existence is beset by nothing less human suffering?

But more importantly, politically, is that a word that will work in a GOP Primary? Chris Christie and the existentialist we never knew