Dana Milbank asks:
Can Chris Christie rescue the GOP?No, Dana, he can't. Any other questions?
Americans are crying out for an end to ideological warfare.Oh, please. Christie always utters pieties about bipartisanship. The naive are lulled, and thus unprepared for his subsequent sucker punches. He talked bipartisanship in his inaugural address, and in a Reagan Library speech in the fall of 2011, as The New York Times noted at the time -- while also giving us a taste of Christie's darker side:
That has developed into Christie's signature in New Jersey. He began his term promising tax cuts and fighting with the teachers union over tenure, pay and education reforms, but he now preaches reconciliation -- a recurring theme in his State of the State address Tuesday afternoon.
"Now, we've had our fights," he told state legislators. "We have stuck to our principles. But we have established a governing model for America that shows that, even with heartfelt beliefs, bipartisan compromise is possible.... Maybe the folks in Washington, in both parties, could learn something from our record here."
"Our bipartisan accomplishments in New Jersey have helped to set a tone that has taken hold across many other states," Mr. Christie told a rapt audience in Simi Valley, Calif. "This is the only effective way to lead in America during these times."Or, as Charlie Pierce writes:
Except that is not exactly how everyone sees it....
Mr. Christie once said to reporters, of a state senator in her 70s who had criticized him, "Can you guys please take the bat out on her for once?" When another Democratic legislator seemed to question Mr. Christie's parenting, he said "she should really be embarrassed at what a jerk she is."
Before the lovefest really gets rolling, I think it's appropriate to remind everyone who Chris Christie really is.So recently he's had a sustained streak of bipartisan utterances -- big deal. He's running for reelection as a Republican in a state Barack Obama won by 17 points. But why would he keep this up if he wants the GOP presidential nomination in 2016, as all the smart folks assume he does?
He's this guy.
He's also this guy.
He's also, too, this guy.
As Public Policy Polling noted in December, his net favorability is lower than that of every other top-tier Republican:
Today PPP notes that, nationwide, he's less popular among Republicans than he is among Democrats or independents.
He's almost certainly going to ride this wave of pseudo-"Kumbaya" to victory in November. But then he has to decide whether he wants to be America's Sweetheart or the GOP presidential nominee. Party purists vote in Republican primaries. That means he can't be both.
I say he'll revert to type. Charlie Pierce writes:
... the storm has been a godsend to Christie. Unlike public school teachers and veterans, the storm was an enemy that actually was worth bullying....He can be Mr. Comity in 2016 and watch the presidential race from the sidelines, or he can be the nasty, divisive leader of a party that simply won't nominate a reasonable human being. Either way, he won't save the GOP from itself.
The fact is that he's still the same guy he always was. Somebody who would pull the wings off flies if he thought it meant 15 minutes on CNN. Someone who almost never picks on anyone his own size. Someone who kicks down, always. Someone who was OK with federal storm relief, but ostentatiously refused federal money for another tunnel connecting New Jersey and New York.... He's the guy who put the bully in the bully pulpit. And he has not changed, any more than Washington has.
(Milbank via Memeorandum.)