RINOs and wanna-be conservatives in New Jersey and all around this once-great nation of ours are hyperventilating over recent rumors hinting that Governor Chris Christie is seriously reconsidering his oft-repeated refusal to run for the GOP presidential nomination and toss his hat into the ring. My own spies inform me that Ann Coulter is already stocking up on Doritos and White Castle Crave Cases in anticipation of a White House culinary bacchanalia following the Big Man’s inauguration.
So what lies ahead? Will the Drumthwacket Dirigible cast off his Garden State moorings and cruise into the GOP presidential race or will he stay put in New Jersey – where he belongs?
I’m inclined to agree with John Fund of the Wall Street Journal, who enumerates three reasons that impel him to conclude that Der Blimpmeister won’t be grabbing the brass ring anytime soon.
The first involves Christie’s obsession with his family’s privacy:
“I don’t think any of those donors who are convinced he’s running have sat down and fully gotten the views of Mary Pat, his wife,” a friend of Christie’s told me. Both she and her husband are said to be very protective of their four children, who range in age from eight to 18, and want to give them as normal a childhood as possible — one reason the Christies continue to live in their home in suburban Mendham rather in Drumthwacket, the regal governor’s mansion in Princeton.
The second involves the current political climate:
New Jersey Republicans are in the middle of a bruising mid-term election campaign for the state legislature under a newly redistricted map. Polls show Republicans are tied or trailing in several key districts, and they are relying on Christie to help by attending fundraisers and making phone calls on their behalf. “It would be very awkward if Christie effectively left New Jersey while his party was trying to win seats so he could better implement his reform agenda,” a New Jersey GOP legislator told me. “If he came back bruised and diminished from a failed presidential bid, it might impact his governorship and make him less likely to be able to run in a future year.”
The third reason cited by Fund for believing that Christie will not run is Christie himself:
Back in January he told Chris Wallace of Fox News that he was “not arrogant” enough to believe he was prepared for the presidency. “You have to believe in your heart that you’re personally ready to be president and I’m not there,” he said. He has repeated that sentiment enough times, accompanied by warnings that Barack Obama shows what happens when a president is not experienced enough, that his opponents could splice together quite a juicy commercial with such sound bites.
There are other reasons, of course. While there can be no denying that Mr. Christie has made noteworthy progress since taking office last year, none of his accomplishments can be called a stunning or brilliant success. Rather, most if not all of them are half-measures tainted by the less-than-fragrant aroma of compromise where each side gets half a loaf of once-fresh bread that is now moldy because of the time spent arguing over how to slice it.
His budget passed only after three conservative Republicans were bullied into voting for it and any savings were achieved at the expense of new taxes and fees, federal Stimulus funds and accounting gimmicks; the 2% property tax cap will actually cause taxes to skyrocket; he has yet to propose the “across the board” tax cuts he promised as a candidate; the budget actually INCREASES state expenditures by 6% and the number of staff in the Governor’s office making $100,000 per year increased by ten;
His confrontation with the unions is pure Kabuki theater with little accomplished but acrimony; he has yet to lay off a single state employee and his 2011 state worker reduction plan is little more than window dressing;
Although he ultimately nixed the Regional Greenhouse Gas Initiative, he originally supported it enthusiastically and used funds raised from RGGI’s carbon auctions to help balance the budget; he has directed that state funds be appropriated to subsidize “green” technology ventures such as off-shore windmills and despite evidence demonstrating the economic non-viability of “green” technology, he continues to support it;
Despite his claim that he opposes Obamacare, he has thus far refused to join other state attorneys general in a joint lawsuit challenging the constitutionality of Obamacare while accepting federal funds for the implementation of a similar program on a statewide level;
During his 1995 campaign for State Assembly, Mr. Christie expressed his support for the Clinton assault weapons ban and attacked his opponents for opposing it. He generally favors strict gun control – and reiterated as much in an interview with Sean Hannity;
He expressed support for construction of the Ground Zero Mosque and condemned those who opposed it;
He stands by his nomination to the state Superior Court of a lawyer with questionable ties to radical Islam.
This is not to say that Mr. Christie is a terrible governor: on the contrary, he has so far proven himself to be a relatively capable and competent chief executive and, in my opinion, the best governor New Jersey has had in decades. Let’s not forget that Gov. Christie must contend with a Democrat-dominated state legislature – not to mention an utterly corrupt Democrat political machine on state, county and local levels that makes Tammany Hall look like amateur hour on the Gong Show.
On the other hand, the glacial pace of Mr. Christie’s so-called conservative reforms is a reflection of the governor’s true political nature: in spite of his bluster, Mr. Christie is a moderate Republican and a consensus politician. While this may be an affront to the sensibilities of Movement Conservatives, it is the sine qua non of survival in the political savanna that is the state of New Jersey.
And here is where the governor’s quasi-conservative fandango will ultimately trip him up should he decide to run: one cannot be all things to all people unless, like Barack Obama, his personal and political past is a tabula rasa. Unfortunately for Mr. Christie, both his political past and present are very well documented and, as we have noted above, neither flattering nor encouraging. It’s a sure bet that his conservative primary opponents would uncover what informed New Jerseyans have known since before the gubernatorial election: Chris Christie is many things, but “conservative” is not among them.
I’m fairly certain he’ll sit out the 2012 presidential race and La Coulter will have to return several pallets of Doritos and Crave Cases to the Costco warehouse.