Tuesday, October 4, 2011

Christie Out

Chris Christie is out of WH 2012. You'll see lots of people saying he decided not to run. You know what? I think that's probably wrong. I think he did run for president for a few weeks, and has now been winnowed out. Chalk another one up for the invisible primary.

Now, as campaigns go, it wasn't much; it's not like the full-fledged Tim Pawlenty campaign, or even the mostly-fledged Haley Barbour effort. But by all accounts (including his own, really) he looked around to gauge his support, and he certainly delivered at least one campaign-type speech at the Reagan library last week, and that to me is a campaign.

How should be understand the rise and failure of Chris Christie? One way is factional: there was, as Josh Marshall theorizes, a party faction that supported his candidacy. I think that's probably accurate, and what Christie's demise tells us is that he rapidly discovered when he looked around that (1) it's a relatively small group within the party, and (2) most other party actors are reasonably happy with either Rick Perry or Mitt Romney or at least the choice between them. Or perhaps he heard that his record of moderation made him an absolute non-starter for important party groups (such as, say, the NRA). To put it another way...Marshall says that Christie is making a "smart move" because "a pro-civil union, global warming believing, sharia-loving, non-Mexican hating New Jersey governor just ain't gonna survive first contact with the GOP nominating process" -- which I'd reply that we may well have just seen him not survive that first contact, and what he was smart about was doing it more or less out of the limelight.

That said, I've talked before about the possibility that interest in running is probably more than an on/off variable. In other words, perhaps Christie was interested in running -- but not desperate to do so. In that case, it may have only taken relatively light resistance (and the promise of a hard race) to dissuade him from continuing on to a formal declaration of candidacy. What we don't know, from the outside, is exactly what perceived odds of winning Christie would have needed to proceed. Hey -- it's even entirely possible that he couldn't tell you accurately exactly why he chose not to continue. What we can say, no question about it, is that the GOP seems to be highly efficient at winnowing the field, and this is yet another piece of evidence for that.


  1. We have created a crazy, flawed system when a half term governor is at all seriously considered as an option to be President (or Vice President).

  2. Marshall says that Christie is making a "smart move" because "a pro-civil union, global warming believing, sharia-loving, non-Mexican hating New Jersey governor just ain't gonna survive first contact with the GOP nominating process"


    Marshall doesn't seem to know anything much, then. The pro-civil union, global warming believing, imam hugging, illegal immigration loving George W. Bush was all but coronated in the GOP nominating process, and it appears a Romney/Perry type will be nominated this time through, and I'm not seeing much difference between them and W.

    I think some of these lefty commentators are spending so much time self-reinforcing their evil Faux News nazi R memes, to such a degree that they can't even recognize what's actually going on in front of them, or understand what candidates believe. In their caricaturing, these commentators have become caricatures.

  3. Anon: how was W pro-civil union? global warming believing? imam hugging? Moreover, since a big argument is that the GOP of 2012 is not the GOP of 2000, is the comparison apt?

    To disagree with JB, I think Christie was actually not running. I think that, in this last week, Perry's weakness caused some to cast about for a new candidate, and Christie was always in the wings as a media darling. It's my sense that party actors reached out to him seriously in the last couple of weeks. He took their reaching out seriously, and considered it. In so doing, he anticipated that he couldn't win, so he just KEPT out of the race. But, my read is that, as of Sept 1, he wasn't tasking aides to help the effort, and wasn't calling pollsters or party leaders. I think some of them came to him, and they failed to make the case that he could get past the OTHER party actors.

  4. MJ,

    Kerry and Bush were both pro civil union in the 2004 campaign. I guess Marshall isn't the only one not knowing much about politics. ;-)

    And the global warming business is part of the historical record, as well. Remember, it was the US Senate that rejected Kyoto, or more precisely, THREATENED to reject it on a 95-0 vote, intimidating Clinton from even submitting it. Bush just read Kyoto the last rights after its rejection. But Bush started in with all the global warming schmooze in the aftermath.

    And yes, Bush flooded the White House with imams. Remember, the Bushies sucked up to that Awlawki guy who just got whacked in Yemen.

    I don't really see much difference between the current favorites and Bush. They're of a piece, basically. Christie was a Bush guy as well. I think you're sorta stuck in incongruity, if you're pushing Marshall's memes about the evil Faux News nazi R's of today, and the evil GOP nominating process. I don't see it, and I suspect President Romney is going to confirm my sights.

  5. Ron E., I should check before writing, but I think that Woodrow Wilson was a half-term gov when he ran for prez. Which is arguably neither here nor there...


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