Friday, August 16, 2013


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 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."
I bet this is one of the bits that went over best:
... 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.

"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."
Republicans love a little self-righteous thuggery from their guys, especially coupled with the suggestion that the damn liberals are the real thugs.

Most in the crowd reacted to Christie like this:
Cindy Costa, a national committeewoman from South Carolina, called the speech "amazing."

"It was impressive. I forgot about the Obama bear hug," said Tennessee GOP Chairman Chris Devaney....
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?

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.


Victor said...

Good analysis, Steve.

I, for one, don't want to think about it until I have to.

The thought of a Republican President anytime soon, scares the living sh*t out of me.

Excuse me while I go poop.

Joey_Blau said...

"Being a college professor, they basically spout out ideas that nobody does anything about.."

right... teachers never have any influence and don't contribute to actual policy.

talk about anti-intellectual..

Pops said...

Where do you get the notion that "Christie will beat up on Hilary". Hilary has for over 25 years dealt with Aholes like Christie and won. An obese WOP (as I am) from NJ is a perfect target for Hilary to destroy. Just ask Rick Lazio.

aimai said...

I think the "college professors" thing is both a slam at Obama (obviously) but also a slam at, for example, the Gingerichian wing of pseudo intellectual political theorizing. But I think there's no doubt that the audience took it as "I may be a bastard and unhousebroken but I'll be your bastard and I'll piss all over your enemies."

Four Bs said...

The bigger they are, the harder they fall.

Steve M. said...

Pops, I agree that Hillary has fought off plenty of haters. The nastier Christie gets, the more he'll alienate swing voters (just the way Lazio did, and just the way Scott Brown did running against Elizabeth Warren). But Republicans like that sort of thing. It will rally the base. Swing voters will swing to Hillary, but at least the base will get its hate jollies. Sometimes I think that's all the GOP base wants.

aimai said...

I generally think the Democratic Base and the Republican Base are really different but in this one thing I think they are the same: they want to hear themelves spoken for, with passion and intensity. They are tired of being represented by the colorless drones that are offered to them--its why the base loved Palin and loves anyone who gets fiesty and seems "fired up." And that is why Obama and his campaign chose "fired up" as their motto, because Obama isn't firey enough, or only occasionally, and to pull ANY base out of their barcaloungers you have to make it emotionally worth their while.

Victor said...

While that may be true, we Liberals are not unwilling to accept some incremental progress towards a greater goal - and we aren't out there sacrificing our DINO politicians to the gods of Manichean purity.

Maybe we should be, but we ain't.

Most of us realize that "politics, is the art of compromise."

Today's Conservatives see compromise, and think "BLASPHEMY!!!"

Leah said...

The fact that he comes from a blue state with a good number of electoral college votes might influence primary reactions to Christie.

I agree that he's verbally fast on his feet, has a sense of humor (although not really about himself), but I do wonder if his bullying tone might not wear well through the endless months of primary season: It's one thing when it's clearly aimed at the enemy, something else when he's talking about other Republicans.

I also wonder if he got the nomination if he could take New Jersey? I suspect that if he were running against Hillary, she'd take the state.

But, who knows this early? Who knows anything this early? Not that anything we do will stop the media from pushing the starting point for 2916 as far back as they can. So keep on analyzing, Steve.

Joseph Nobles said...

If it comes down to Christie and Cruz in the primary, it won't be Christie/Cruz in the general. But Christie/Rubio? That's where my money would be. Someone nice and young and pure (enough) to take the reins if Christie keels over.