The Corner

The Christie Boomlet

I am not as a big a Christie fan as some of my friends here and, with due respect to Bob Costa’s sources in Trenton and elsewhere, I think there’s a good chance that a Romney decision to tap the Garden State gov would demoralize rather than energize the base. The base is conservative and Christie is a tough-talking moderate.

The people talking about how Christie would “energize the base” are GOP-establishment figures. While Christie certainly excites them, that is different from exciting the base. It is telling that what makes them swoon, as one told Bob, is Christie’s “pragmatism.” In these matters, “pragmatism” is usually code for “not beholden to a set of principles.” However alluring this form of “pragmatism” seems inside the Beltway, the GOP’s conservative base blames it for the mess we’re in. 

Governor Christie may also be the kind of personality who wears thin pretty quickly — whose glib, between-the-eyes style is enticing from a distance but gets less attractive as you examine his record and find that it’s more luke-warm than his heated presence suggests. (And, on things like confronting Islamic supremacism, it is downright disturbing.) Christie certainly would not help Romney with wary conservatives. He’d reinforce their suspicions about Romney — viz., that Romney figures he can now etch-a-sketch away his primary-season appeals to conservatives and focus on independents because conservatives are hot to beat Obama and have no place else to go.

But all that said, shouldn’t it be dispositive that Christie has said, repeatedly and adamantly, that he is not ready to be president? (See, e.g., here.) When it comes time to pick a veep, presidential candidates reliably say that the number-one thing they are looking for, and that the country needs, is someone who is ready to be president from day-one. Christie has told us in no uncertain terms that he is not that guy — and his appeal is said to be that he speaks his mind with refreshing honesty. Plus, a big part of the critique on Obama is that he was not up to the job. How does Romney advance that argument, in the most consequential decision he will make before Election Day, by choosing someone who, by his own admission, is not up to the job? 

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