In the last two presidential primary seasons, Republicans flirted with ideological purity and then settled for the establishment candidate. A lot of people think they'll do it again, but that's seemed doubtful lately, as Rand Paul and Ted Cruz have been rising, while Marco Rubio and Chris Christie having been losing some rank-and-file support.
And so Christie gave a speech at a Republican National Committee gathering today and apparently regained some momentum:
"We are not a debating society," Christie told a lunchtime audience at the Republican National Committees summer meeting in Boston. "We are a political operation that needs to win." ...I bet this is one of the bits that went over best:
"I am in this business to win. I don't know why you are in it. I am in this to win," Christie said at the luncheon, his first appearance a meeting of the RNC.
"I think we have some folks who believe that our job is to be college professors," he said. "Now college professors are fine I guess. Being a college professor, they basically spout out ideas that nobody does anything about. For our ideas to matter we have to win. Because if we don’t win, we don't govern. And if we don't govern all we do is shout to the wind. And so I am going to do anything I need to do to win."
... Christie devoted the much of the speech to his record in New Jersey, highlighting efforts to fix a budget deficit and his noisy fights with teachers unions over pension reform.Republicans love a little self-righteous thuggery from their guys, especially coupled with the suggestion that the damn liberals are the real thugs.
"You got two choices as a governor," he said. "You either sidle up next to them and whisper sweet nothings in their ear or try to hope they don't punch you. Or your second alternative is you punch them first."
Most in the crowd reacted to Christie like this:
Cindy Costa, a national committeewoman from South Carolina, called the speech "amazing."I can't tell how this is going to play with ordinary Republicans. The base is angry these days and wants a purist avenger to cleanse the world of liberals, Democrats, and RINOs -- but the base also loves angry rhetoric. The weird thing is that the guy least likely to satisfy the base's craving for ideological heavy metal is the guy who does the best at providing verbal heavy metal. Can the baseheads forgo the former if Christie is really good at providing the latter?
"It was impressive. I forgot about the Obama bear hug," said Tennessee GOP Chairman Chris Devaney....
I just can't tell. Andrew Sullivan says,
Southern white voters love the Jacksonian rhetoric of violence and, whatever the substance, they will love this big fat guy beating up Hillary Clinton.That's true. But will he be so much better at beating her up that they'll forgive his ideological impurities? I'm not sure. All I know is that he's a much more rousing speaker than, say, Rand Paul or Paul Ryan or Scott Walker, and I think he tops Ted Cruz, too.
But they're going to pound on him for his apostasies. And maybe it'll just be a big, nasty donnybrook that leaves everyone bleeding and wounded, as Hillary watches. Or maybe we'll just get down to Christie vs. Cruz, trash-talker versus fervid fundamentalist, with Christie winning thanks to Establishment money -- and then they'll be the ticket, with Cruz being Christie's Palin, the person on the ticket who speaks the wingnut lingo. I just don't know.