Thursday, February 25, 2016


Today, Jon Ward at Yahoo Politics tries to explain why the candidate most temperamentally suited to attack Donald Trump, Chris Christie, never even tried. The excuses given by Christie aides don't pass the smell test:
I spoke with three different close advisers to Christie this week about their internal deliberations inside the campaign. Unlike any other candidate, Christie had knockout punching power, so why didn’t he go straight for the king of the hill rather than trying to outlast the other Trump alternatives?

... Even if Christie could have made an impact, his counselors said, they weren’t sure it would have helped them.

“Is it a confrontation for confrontation’s sake? Was that going to accrue to our benefit or to someone else’s benefit?” the adviser asked.

Another top Christie adviser said, “A lot of times we were playing a short-term game. We were playing to get into the next debate.

“Nobody wants to be a suicide bomber,” this adviser said. “Then you’ve decided you’re part of a cause and not a candidacy.”
But Christie was a suicide bomber, except that the person he wounded while blowing up his own campaign was Marco Rubio, not Trump. In fact, after Rubio and Christie both finish out of contention in New Hampshire, "suicide bomber" is precisely how Rupert Murdoch described Christie:

And the question "Was that going to accrue to our benefit or to someone else’s benefit?” is ridiculous because, as The New York Times reported a few days before Christie's attack on Rubio, the Christie campaign was collaborating with the Jeb Bush campaign on tag-team Rubio attacks:
Frustrated and flailing as his candidacy threatens to slip away, Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey is embarking on a scalding effort over the next week to discredit Senator Marco Rubio of Florida, the man he blames for undermining his campaign and whose ascendancy he deeply resents.

And Mr. Christie has a secret ally: Jeb Bush.

... Members of the Bush and Christie campaigns have communicated about their mutual desire to halt Mr. Rubio’s rise in the polls, according to Republican operatives familiar with the conversations.

... A division of labor seems to have taken hold. While a well-financed “super PAC” supporting Mr. Bush assails Mr. Rubio on television and in the mail, Mr. Christie has increased the critiques on the campaign trail.

“Jeb can’t do that sort of stuff,” said an adviser to Mr. Christie, referring to the New Jersey governor’s slashing “boy in the bubble” attack on Mr. Rubio and his comfort with political street fighting. “They don’t have the weapon.”
The excuses don't hold up. Digby might have the real answer:
... maybe the truth is really that Christie is one of those bullies who only picks on people who can't fight back. Trump would have fought back and I'd imagine it wouldn't have been pretty.
With Trump, it would have been personal. Maybe that's why all these guys hold back -- Christie, Rubio, the billionaires who vastly prefer other Republicans but refuse to go after Trump. The candidates can handle political attacks, the billionaires can handle smash-mouth business tactics. -- but Trump's ad hominem attacks threaten their precious egos. They can't handle that.


sdhays said...

This is sort of why I just don't see Trump doing well in the general election. The Democrats are NOT going to be afraid to attack him. Hillary has been the subject of ad hominem attacks for decades; there's nothing he can dish that she hasn't heard before and weathered. If someone wanted to destroy Donald Trump, they could. The Republicans are just too scared of him because he's a billionaire and they can't believe how many supporters he has who still support him after he should have self-destructed without any assistance from the powers that be (were?).

Cirze said...

I agree.

I think Trump will probably be dispatched quickly by straight talk in the general.

The millennials will not be fooled for long.

The damage his legions do, however, will live ever after probably.

It's like televising the reemergence of the KKK.

Who would've believed that prior to this election cycle?

The Republicans will have to totally regroup, and the Dems, if Bernie has more than a modicum of success in redefining the neolib issues, will probably be right behind.

Chai T. Ch'uan said...

I'm gonna go with
1) Christie knows Trump would have gone hard at his weakness, which is that Christie's currently under federal investigation and likely to be indicted for corruption this spring, and his lawyers have told him not to talk about it even to defend himself or risk compromising his eventual defense (or at least refocus media scrutiny on the hanging sword over his head)
2) what Digby said (and Atrios, and you): he's a coward who always punches down