Tuesday, February 22, 2011

Lugar vs. Christie?

Paul Waldman has an interesting theory that the reasons movement conservatives have turned against Dick Lugar  is because, gosh, he's just too nice a guy. Waldman draws the contrast with Chris Christie, who conservatives love even though he's not actually all that conservative on the issues:
But you know who else is a moderate? New Jersey governor Chris Christie, who's pro-choice, among other things. But Christie enjoys yelling at people, particularly teachers, and generally acts like a jerk when the cameras are on (granting that in private, Christie might be just the sweetest guy in the world). That has made him a hero to the right.
Perhaps. But Scott Brown was a hero to the right last year, and he was a moderate as a state legislator and has turned out to be a moderate as a Senator -- and as far as I know, he's never yelled at anyone. He certainly has more of a nice guy than a tough guy image. What Brown and Christie have in common is winning in Democratic states, along with being new on the scene. My guess is that Christie's act wouldn't get him very far in national politics, at least unless he adopted the issue positions he would need at that level.

I really don't think there's any need to look to hard for reasons for Lugar's trouble. He's a traditional 1970s, Reagan-style conservative in a 21st century party that isn't very keen on international treaties and organizations and has little tolerance for any ideological divergence at all -- Lugar voted for Barack Obama's judicial appointments, for TARP, and has some other "bad" votes to defend. And for whatever reason, Lugar has chosen not to grovel to the Tea Partiers.

I still think Lugar would be better off switching parties if he wants to remain in office.


  1. Tea Partiers love Christie because he doesn’t compromise on matters of fiscal discipline. His personality might reinforce that impression, but it’s hardly the sole reason for his popularity.

    Still, it's hard to imagine GOP primary voters overlooking Christie’s heresies for the promise of a true fiscal watchdog.

  2. Seem like the right quickly fell out of love with Scott Brown when they realized he wanted to work with the Democrats instead of yelling at them.

  3. Lugar’s also something of an urban Republican, having been the mayor of Indianapolis and founder of Unigov, which brought together Indianapolis and its surrounding suburbs and county under one government. Although this had the benefit of strengthening the Republican position in metropolitan government, it’s also a very technocratic approach to the issue of metropolitan government. Say that last phrase to a younger Republicans and see how quickly he lashes out at you.

    Although Christie’s certainly a jerk, he’s also someone with no real leadership experience in local government. Unless if you really luck out on your choice of political philosophy, you can’t be a successful mayor and ideologue—the job’s too hands-on for that—not can you afford to alienate people. Someone like Lugar knew this and was obviously very good at the practical aspects of city government and coalition building; Voinovich comes to mind as well. I wonder if, with large cities overall becoming more and more Democratic, the mayoralty has stopped being a jumping-off point for Republican candidates and if it’s been part of the reason for the bad attitude.

  4. JB -

    I know this is Waldman's post, not yours, but I would like to point out to your readers Christie is no longer pro-choice. Under pressure from thri right, he changed his view from the "personally pro-life" trope to the standard GOP view in favor of recriminalization.

  5. The Tea Party attacks on Lugar are awfully wrongheaded.

    It's not just that he's a sure winner in the general, ala Mike Castle, but as JB says, he's an honest-to-goodness Reagan Republican who probably could've/should've been a GOP VP nominee in any election between 1972 and 2000, and would have been a better choice than Dole for the 1996 GOP presidential nomination. Over his career he's voted as conservative as any righty could ask for.

    It seems to me that a lot of the animus towards Lugar is that he's just ornery enough at this late stage of his career to recoil from making symbolic votes (i.e., against Obama's SCOTUS nominees) that he thinks are stupid, and he's willing to say so.

    We'll know the Tea Party has matured as a political movement when they leave the Lugars of the GOP alone, and instead recruit challengers for seat-warming hacks like Vitter and Ensign.

  6. Chris Christie is officially pro-life, and is pro-traditional marriage.


Note: Only a member of this blog may post a comment.

Who links to my website?