Timothy Stanley, a historian at Oxford, has an inspired piece on New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R), called Christie is GOP’s lone superstar, on CNN’s website. He makes the interesting analogy between Christie and the New Jersey fictional crime boss Tony Soprano, masterfully portrayed by the late James Gandolfini in "The Sopranos."
President Ronald Reagan, he says, likewise suggested the Hollywood icon John Wayne. In this regard, Soprano and the fictional Wayne could be seen as archetypes of leadership in the common dream of the West.
And in Soprano’s case, I would suggest, we find the true values of leadership, but in hiding, in exile, found today only in the cult of the underworld which runs like a river beneath the culture at large, while it, the mainstream, is distracted by ephemeral, meaningless, escapist and decadent adventures and enterprises. But these are the driving values of Tony, and the same could be said for Marlon Brando’s masterfully played Godfather: family, honor, duty and responsibility. It is all hidden beneath the torrid story of gangsters and outcasts. But these archetypes are always there. They cannot be destroyed, and they may come out of exile to the light at a later time. And now may be that time. And Christie may bring them.
In fact, New Jersey is a mess, and the substance does not live up to the spin.
“But,” writes Stanley, “in electoral politics, rather than the real world of high taxes and rising poverty, that might not really matter. As governor of California in the 1970s, Ronald Reagan raised taxes at least 10 times. Yet he still won election as a conservative, tax-cutting, cowboy Republican in 1980. He was to John Wayne what Christie is to Soprano: a couple of stars who rose above the details.”
Possibly it is all the work of dreams and tree spirits. But we have seen, still in our lifetimes, what philosopher Raymond Aron called “a century of total war,” and at least a hundred years of devastating political nihilism wearing different masks of liberation through war, economy, sex, drugs and misplaced empathies. It lingers still. And we have seen a fin de siècle, end of time, two decades with Appalachian folk preachers declaring the end of things, and Al Gore as well.
Possibly now, 13 years into the millennium, we are turning the corner. The white queen will come to us again, and love’s commitments and honor, family, and responsibility will once again struggle and climb their way out of exile and find a way to us with Chris Christie.