Wednesday, May 20, 2015


Josh Marshall thinks Chris Christie's presidential dreams were unrealistic from the start, long before Bridgegate or the Sandy moment with President Obama:
Christie comes from a pretty blue state. He is characterologically very much a product of the tri-state area, where a very brash and aggressive personal style is de rigueur, especially for Republican politicians. By national standards he is only just on the cusp of RINO status. To many, indeed, he's the ultimate RINO.

It's true that one could say some of these things about Mitt Romney, though that isn't exactly a major selling point after the 2012 election. But Christie is quite simply a creature of New Jersey and tri-state politics who both by his manner and his policies would be a tough sell - certainly a tough primary campaign sell - in the red states where presidential candidates are chosen.
But why? As Marshall says, Romney was nominated by the mostly non-coastal, Southern-based GOP -- and while Christie doesn't have Romney-style money in his own bank account, he sure is chummy with a lot of people who do. So with a few strategic position adjustments -- like the ones I see Scott Walker and Marco Rubio making now on immigration -- why couldn't he have de-RINO'd himself enough to contend? I still say that if not for the Sandy moment and the humiliation of Bridgegate -- yes, I know those are big ifs -- Christie could have been a first-tier presidential candidate.

Marshall thinks it's a culture clash that never could have worked out in Christie's favor. He blames the media:
But the real issue here, I think, is the extremely distorting lens of the New York media world and the very particular breed of people who make up tri-state Republicanism, particularly how the two interweave with each other. Media-prominent, big time New York and New Jersey Republicans tend to be very well-off and very conservative. But they are usually not terribly focused on the evangelicalism-tinged social issues that drive Republican party identification in its heartlands....

Remember, Fox is based out of New York City. Limbaugh originally broadcast out of New York City when he first went national and the show's staff is still based there. The New York Post, which is a major driver of national media coverage, is in New York City. The National Review is based in New York City. And let's not forget that a huge, huge amount of the money that drives Republican politics (similar but not quite the same with Dems) comes out of New York City.

It's just not where the voters come from.
But then why do all those heartlanders watch Fox? Why isn't there a culture clash between Fox and its viewers? Why do they love Long Island's Bill O'Reilly and Long Island's Sean Hannity and New York-born, Connecticut-bred Ann Coulter? Yes, they're extremely fond of Fox's blondes, but why aren't they completely turned off by mouthy, dark-haired Jeannie Pirro of Westchester County? If these personalities go over big in Red America, why not Christie?

And sorry, but Marshall's Rudy Giuliani comparison doesn't stand up to scrutiny:
What [New York-area] Republicans prize is law and order politics and politicians who can stand up to and knock around the entrenched Democrats and liberal political norms they see all around them. When I say law and order, I mean not just tough policing and long jail terms but the general no nonsense, not putting up with pussy-footing and complaining and indulgent labor contracts and all the rest. That applies to law and order and cracking down on the thugs, teachers unions and Islamofascist bad guys abroad - all of whom they tend to see in a somewhat similar light. They are much more anti-liberal - in the sense of big city urban liberal politics writ large - than conservative, per se. And this all explains why Rudy Giuliani - dubbed "America's Mayor" by a handful of media yakkers and Republican backers in New York City - was the ultimate avatar of this particular tri-state, not-gonna-take-any-more-BS breed of Republicanism.

And how did he do when he ran for President? Of course, he comically crashed and burned and barely made it to the first primary. Not that he wasn't popular in a way with national Republicans - but as a general symbol of butt-kicking and a conservative - of a sort - who could clean up New York City. He was very popular. And so was Christie as the guy who ended up in viral videos yelling at whiny teachers or other liberal complainers. That behavior applies to something deep in the base conservative Id. But it's not enough to actually garner sustained electoral support, which inevitably comes back to policies. With Rudy, when it came to actually making the grade as a conservative in a GOP primary, he couldn't even get off the ground.
But Rudy was pro-choice on abortion -- an absolutely inviolate litmus test in the GOP, then and now. Rudy was pro-gay rights (and had lived with two gay men for a time, not to mention his onstage cross-dressing). Christie has never supported abortion rights, and doesn't support gay marriage. The religious right mounted a concerted effort to ensure that Giuliani did not become the nominee. There's no evidence that the same would have happened to Christie if he'd been a serious contender.

Christie isn't pure enough on some issues, but he could have been forgiven if he'd tweaked those positions, avoided the Sandy and Bridgegate errors, and \ continued bashing the Fox audience's enemies in the past year or so (a year he spent collecting chits as head of the Republican Governors Association). He's a rude, secular East Coast jerk, but so is much of the Fox prime-time lineup. Yes, he could have been a contender in the modern GOP.


Victor said...

I think Christie misread his moment.

If, when many in the GOP came hat-in-hands to him in 2012, he could have accepted their offer to run, and then, after Sandy, he could have just let his state rot, since he'd have had at least a decent shot to winning - not a great shot, but a decent shot.

But he decided not to run.
And, after Sandy, he hugged President Obama and thanked him, ending much of his future appeal to the GOP base of bigoted sociopathic loons.

On, and just the thought of Chris Christie dressed in drag, like Rudy did, makes me think of Devine - the star of many John Waters films.

I miss Devine!
I won't miss Christie - and I don't think many other people will.

Professor Chaos said...

Christie would have huge trouble in the primaried just because his opponents would run the clip if him hugging Obama in every ad against him.
Also, they might love him when he's yelling at and bullying teachers, but when he inevitably turns his wrath on his fellow GOPers in the debates.

petrilli said...

Josh Marshall nails the cultural clash at work for Christie. I can't put into words the pure hatred people down south have for that "Joisie","New yawk" stereotype when it's directed at them from a position of authority. In all my years down there I saw plenty of Northern transplant managers hit the wall with "here's how we do it in New York." The regional differences in style and interaction are often joked about in good nature between lateral power relationships, but if that dynamic changes, the resentment is visceral. Why the acceptance down south of Fox News? I would guess because Fox's raison d' etre is to comfort their audience by reinforcing their prejudice and insecurity, which Fox content and talent does very well. If Fox were to suddenly place priorities on say, informing their public with the truth,(with all those Yankee accents,) the party would be over quickly.