By Max Cohen
What do former Gov. Chris Christie, Germany's shock World Cup exit, and New Jersey's tense budget negotiations have to do with each other?
On the surface, not much. But anyone who checked Twitter last night would have seen a potential barb from the former governor that aimed to hit his successor Phil Murphy where it hurts.
It all started with a tweet from Christie's account at 9:26 p.m. Wednesday, hailing South Korea's victory over the defending World Cup champions, Germany. Earlier in the day, the Germans fell to a 2-0 defeat, ending the pre-tournament favorite's chances of advancing to the knockout stages.
"What a fabulous win today for South Korea over an overrated German team in the World Cup," Christie wrote. "What you truly learn about when the game starts is who can really compete and who is just talk. We learned that today about both South Korea and Germany."
On the face of it, an innocuous soccer tweet. But dig deeper through Christie's account, and you'll find just one other commentary on this year's World Cup -- a celebration of Mexico's earlier victory over "heavily-favored Germany."
Why the fixation on Germany's defeats? Perhaps, as some observers speculated, it was intended to mock Christie's successor in the governor's office, Phil Murphy?
Murphy served as ambassador to Germany from 2009 to 2013 and has been a public supporter of their national soccer team during this year's World Cup. When sports betting was legalized in New Jersey earlier this month, Murphy wagered $20 on Germany to win the international soccer tournament.
Christie's observation that he learned "who can really compete and who is just talk" also appeared to chide Murphy's failure to reach a budget deal with the Democratic-controlled legislature -- and avoid a government shutdown.
The two politicians have been known to trade barbs in the past. Last December, Christie took exception to a letter Murphy sent to Christie, suggesting he cut down on spending during his last month in office. More animosity followed when Murphy angered Christie by posing next to a picture of the governor's infamous 'Beachgate' visit.
In truth, no one can really say if Christie was taking a swipe at Murphy or if he's just a fan of the South Korean national soccer team. Either way, the controversial tweet didn't sit well with some on Twitter.
In response to Christie's analysis that the game allowed fans to learn "who can really compete and who is just talk," one Twitter user responded tersely.
"That's what we learned about you, too."