Adam Nagourney spent years as the most godawful purveyor of Northeast Corridor conventional wisdom at The New York Times. Jonathan Martin used to write for Politico, which is built on just that sort of conventional wisdom. So the Times has put the two together, and the results are exactly what you'd expect.
Washington these days is the symbol of governmental failure, rocked by a shutdown, legislative paralysis and the disastrous debut of President Obama's health care program. Public opinion of Mr. Obama and members of Congress is on a steady decline.Translation: Chris Christie is dreamy! Chris Christie's elevator pitch for himself ("Washington sucks! Governors like me rule!") is so excellently pithy that we're going to write about it as if it's a news story and not a campaign slogan! After all, that's our job, isn't it? To recast politicians' self-promoting spin as objective news?
But something different is taking place in statehouses.
At a time when Mr. Obama and members of Congress are mired in partisanship and gridlock, many governors -- including Chris Christie of New Jersey, a Republican who was re-elected by an overwhelming margin on Tuesday, and the chief executives of such states as Arkansas, California, Nevada, New Mexico, New York and Ohio -- are showing that it is possible to be successful in elected office, even in this era.
These governors are, at least by comparison to lawmakers in Washington, capable and popular leaders, pushing through major legislation and trying to figure out ways, with mixed success, to avoid the partisan wrangling that has come to symbolize Washington.
The awe-inspiring greatness of governors, naturally, is in stark contrast to the current status of one particular Democrat, according to Nagourney and Martin:
The disparity could have implications for the 2016 presidential race. It suggests some of the challenges that Hillary Rodham Clinton, a former senator and secretary of state, could face should she end up running against a governor like Mr. Christie. Historically, governors have tended to be much more successful presidential candidates, even at moments when animosity toward Washington has not been at this level.Never mind the fact that the popular vote has been won by a senator or ex-senator in three of the last four presidential elections.
Maggie Haberman, currently at Politico, sums up Nagourney and Martin's argument:
I love that "is seen as." By whom? Answer: By insiders.
What -- are 2016 voters seriously going to say, "Hillary Clinton's okay, but I don't care -- this year I'm voting for a governor, dammit"? Normal people do not think this way. Normal people don't sort politicians into these categories. A lot of governors became president between 1976 and 2004 -- but then in 2008 the three most popular candidates were all sitting senators. In 2012, an ex-senator cleaned an ex-governor's clock. Christie's top challengers right now are senators -- Paul and Cruz. Clinton's top challenger is Joe Biden -- an ex-senator. But ... but ... our precious categories!
Never mind the fact that Hillary Clinton has topped Chris Christie in every poll conducted this year, according to Real Clear Politics, in a couple of cases by double digits; never mind that Hillary hasn't been a D.C. politician in the usual sense in nearly five years, and is now associated much more with international jet-setting than D.C. gridlock. Nagourney and Martin -- soon to be joined by many, many other conventional wisdom slingers -- are portraying her precisely the way she's portrayed in their new mancrush's preferred narrative. They won't tell you that she beats Christie in actual polls, because she loses to him in theory -- or at least in Christie's theory, which, increasingly, is also their theory.