Today The New York Times has a story about Chris Christie's trip to Canada, where he's trying to make it seem as if he loves the Keystone pipeline even more than the other Republicans:
Determined to let no doubts about his enthusiasm for the pipeline linger, Mr. Christie, the Republican governor of New Jersey, traveled to Canada to meet with the chief executive of the company trying to build it. He held a joint news conference with the premier of Alberta, who is aggressively pushing for it. And Mr. Christie delivered a speech to a group of Canadian energy executives who fervently support it -- inside the Calgary Petroleum Club, no less.That will go over extremely well with Republican primary voters. However, I'm not so sure about the larger strategy of which it's a part:
Mr. Christie, who has limited experience in international affairs, is fashioning a foreign policy that is heavily grounded in North America, which he views as an overlooked domain in an era of international threats to the United States. It is an approach shaped heavily by informal advisers, including Robert B. Zoellick, the former United States trade representative under President George W. Bush, who said in an recent interview that he has encouraged Mr. Christie to think about the "continental base."It's nice that he said the three countries "share a respect for each other's national sovereignty" -- but if he talks a lot about the shared interests of the U.S., Canada, and Mexico as he campaigns for president, I think many Republican voters are going to conclude that he's the candidate of the dreaded North American Union:
"On this continent," Mr. Christie said, "Canada, the United States and Mexico share a political system, share an approach to the economy, share similar cultural values, share a respect for each other's national sovereignty and share a belief that freedom and democracy should be offered to people all across the world. Think about it today: Is there another neighborhood in the world that offers that?"
Since 2005, the dominant conspiracy theory animating the anti-immigration movement has been the so-called "North American Union," described as a plot to surrender American sovereignty in a planned merger with Canada and Mexico. The plotters are typically said to be various foreign leaders, President George W. Bush and his "neo-conservative" allies, and an array of leading American liberals.Christie is already likely to be in trouble with the base on immigration. He signed a state version of the DREAM Act in December 2013. Prior to that, in 2008, when then-U.S. attorney Christie was planning what would be his first successful run for governor (and presumably hoping to appeal to Hispanic voters), he responded to a request by the mayor of Morristown for increased immigration enforcement powers against Latin American gangs by saying, "Being in this country without proper documentation is not a crime." Christie has already lost Ann Coulter on this issue: "I'm now a single-issue voter against amnesty, so Chris Christie's off my list," she said at CPAC in 2013.
... Jerome Corsi, author of the notorious book attacking 2004 presidential candidate John Kerry's Vietnam service, says President Bush has a "secret agenda," adding that "an executive branch coup d'etat may be under way." Minuteman Project co-founder Jim Gilchrist, who recently co-authored a book with Corsi, says the NAU is "a dagger pointed at the heart of America." Christian Right activist Phyllis Schlafly, head of the Eagle Forum, has joined an alliance with Phillips, Corsi and others in calling for a congressional investigation and disclosure of secret documents.
References to a speech Christie delivered in Mexico in September titled "North America's Energy Opportunity" are already showing up on anti-globalization websites, accompanied by ominous invocations of the "North American Union" and the Council on Foreign Relations.
Christie delivers so much of what GOP voters crave -- not to mention centrist voters and journalistic insiders -- that he really ought to be the front-runner for the nomination, and maybe even for the presidency, especially now that the conventional wisdom is that he's been cleared on the Bridgegate scandal. But he keeps doing things that sabotage his chances of winning the nomination. Talking this way about the three major nations of North America might impress big-money donors, but it's going to make primary voters' heads explode.