Chris Christie’s demand that hosts pay for luxury travel and accommodations isn’t unique.
It is impossible to read the Newser.com headline without laughing a bit: “Christie Travels Like a Rock Star —on Others’ Dime.”
I laugh because it wasn’t that long ago when we heard stories about Hillary Clinton, which I summed up under the post headline: “Hillary Clinton Makes Rock Star-Level Demands for Those Hiring Her to Speak.” Several times we have found stories about “Queen” Hillary demanding royal treatment.
So it is somewhat consoling that the New York Times, in exposing Christie’s demands for luxuries, had to provide some context by mentioning the Clinton’s once:
Mr. Christie is hardly the first politician, in either party, whose embrace of luxury travel has prompted criticism. Hillary Rodham Clinton, for example, a potential Democratic candidate for president, is known for her dependence on private planes often paid for by others.
Nice to see that admission.
Still, it is hard to feel especially good about Christ Christie while reading the Times story.
As Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey waited to depart on a trade mission to Israel in 2012, his entourage was delayed by a late arrival: Mr. Christie’s father, who had accidentally headed to the wrong airport.
A commercial flight might have left without him, but in this case, there was no rush. The private plane, on which Mr. Christie had his own bedroom, had been lent by Sheldon G. Adelson, the billionaire casino owner and supporter of Israel. At the time, he was opposing legislation then before the governor to legalize online gambling in New Jersey.
Mr. Christie loaded the plane with his wife, three of his four children, his mother-in-law, his father and stepmother, four staff members, his former law partner and a state trooper.
King Abdullah of Jordan picked up the tab for a Christie family weekend at the end of the trip. The governor and two staff members who accompanied him came back to New Jersey bubbling that they had celebrated with Bono, the lead singer of U2, at three parties, two at the king’s residence, the other a Champagne reception in the desert. But a small knot of aides fretted: The rooms in luxurious Kempinski hotels had cost about $30,000; what would happen if that became public?
One of the things I wonder about this is: What kind of vacations would we see from a President Chris Christie. The way the Obama First Family has socked it to the taxpayer for their vacations has become a matter of legend to conservatives. But is this how such tastes get set? Would Chris Christie be able to downgrade the life he has grown accustomed to if it became illegal for King Abdullah to be his sponsor?
Letting the king pay for his three-day weekend in Jordan back in 2012 would not have been allowed if Mr. Christie were, say, president or a United States senator; it is illegal for federal employees to accept gifts of more than nominal value from agents of foreign governments. An executive order Mr. Christie signed in 2010 allows New Jersey governors to have travel and related expenses paid by foreign governments; it does not specifically address gifts such as the parties the king held for him, but the governor’s staff said it was covered under a provision that allowed gifts from personal friends.
Mr. Christie has described it as a matter of opportunity. “I relish these experiences and exposures, especially for my kids,” he told a reporter for The Times last summer. “I try to squeeze all the juice out of the orange that I can.”
It seems that politicians, whether Democrat or Republican, have similar expectation of copious “juice” available to them. At a time when we need someone committed to reducing spending, those expectations in a person make me nervous—to say the least.