“So Guildenstern and Rosencrantz go to’t.”
“Why, man, they did make love to this employment;
They are not near my conscience; their defeat
Does by their own insinuation grow.”
—“Hamlet,” Act 5, Scene 2
This week, in the White House, Donald Trump forced Chris Christie to eat meatloaf, even though Christie did not necessarily want the meatloaf.
There was a time when Christie was a man with autonomy and pride. There was a time when Trump was kind and his voice was soft and his words were inviting, and life was a Springsteen song and the song was exciting. There was a time, and then it all went wrong.
Trump rewarded loyalty, they said, and he was loyal.
He gave Trump his boughs and his branches and his leaves and the better part of his trunk. He brought him the severed head of Marco Rubio. He let Donald Trump sit on his worn-out stump.
Christie had hopes. He was going to be vice president. And then, he was going to have a job in the White House. And then, he was going to head the transition.
“There’s the menu,” Trump told the room, when Christie visited. “You guys order whatever you want. Chris, you and I are going to have the meatloaf.”
“I’m telling you, the meatloaf is fabulous,” Trump said.
Christie did not necessarily want the meatloaf, but it was all right enough, once he ate it. (Meatloaf always tastes a little like humiliation, anyway, even if the bread crumbs are perfectly fresh.)
For dessert, Trump made him eat an entire chocolate cake, but he couldn’t finish it and the class laughed at him and the Trumpbull won. Or maybe that was something that happened in “Matilda.” Christie does not remember. Sometimes it seems like this is not his life at all, just the part of the book where the orphan is made to suffer to build character.
Christie has a lot of character now. Maybe it would have helped if he had had some of it earlier.
He is not the only one. Mike Pence was sent out in the snow to say hello to a statue. Sean Spicer had to get himself a different suit. He is aware of these things and sometimes when he passes them in the hallway, they quickly avert their gazes from one another in a kind of solidarity.
But it is all right, perfectly all right. Christie did not mind eating the meatloaf. “The meatloaf was good,” he said.
Christie once dreamed of being president of the United States. But that was a long time ago.