For a political party that seems to derive its ideology from Ayn Rand’s embrace of heedless ambition, the Republicans are going through an unexpected Ferdinand the Bull phase. Many of the GOP’s top presidential prospects prefer smelling the flowers—or taking a New Jersey state helicopter to a son’s baseball game—to becoming Teddy Roosevelt’s man in the arena, scrapping for every vote in the Iowa caucuses. And while Mitt Romney and Tim Pawlenty long for the roar of the crowd, Republican voters are caught up in the allure of the non-combatant.
First Read says that attention must be paid to a Chris Christie presidential candidacy: *** Pay more attention to Christie: Forget about Sarah Palin’s "dinner" last night with Donald Trump, one of whom isn’t running for president and the other of whom probably won’t run, either. The more important dinner -- at least as far as the “summer of speculation” goes -- took place across the river in New Jersey, where Gov. Chris Christie (R) met with Iowa Republican donors.
[Guest post by James Downie] Last week, Ezra Klein suggested that perhaps the lack of enthusiasm among the GOP establishment for Tim Pawlenty lay in his unimpressive record as governor, including his reliance on "accounting shortcuts" to try to close the deficit, rather than actually cutting the size of the state government. Indeed, one of Pawlenty's favorite habits was shifting costs to local governments, as documented here: Pawlenty oversaw dramatic reductions in higher-education funding and refused to spend more on early childhood programs.
Mike Allen describes the Republican panic over the party's presidential field. It's a terrific piece of reporting, confirming everything we've known or suspected about how the party elites think of their field. For reasons I find strange, they desperately want a savior from outside the field, and consider Mitch Daniels, Jeb Bush and Chris Christie the most plausible white knights. I wrote a column for the New York Times magazine explaining my incomprehension with their assessment of these figures.
By now, it should be obvious that anyone hoping party insiders will draft a Jeb Bush or Chris Christie or Rick Perry to rescue the lackluster Republican 2012 field from itself is living in a hopeless fantasyland. But in case you need even more evidence, consider this: Dark-horse candidates who aren’t fully committed to running for president, deep within their bones, have a terrible track record of misfires and flameouts. We need look no further back than 2008 for a vivid historical example.
For years, teachers’ unions have claimed that education reformers are mounting a “war on teachers.” Now, in the Midwest and Republican-dominated states across the country, we are witnessing what a war on teachers really looks like.
It took me a while to read the New York Times magazine profile of Chris Christie, but this anecdote struck me: Last April, for instance, Christie claimed to be infuriated by a joke memo circulated by the president of the Bergen County chapter of the union. “Dear Lord,” it read in part, “this year you have taken away my favorite actor, Patrick Swayze, my favorite actress, Farrah Fawcett, my favorite singer, Michael Jackson, and my favorite salesman, Billy Mays.
After many feints in this direction dating back to 1996, Newt Gingrich seems to be finally preparing a run for president. Generally, he is not being taken as seriously as potential candidates like Sarah Palin, Mitt Romney, and Mike Huckabee—or even D.C. insider heartthrobs such as Haley Barbour, Mitch Daniels, and Chris Christie. I agree with this assessment of Gingrich’s potential, to an extent; he’s the opposite of a fresh new face, and the guy’s baggage rivals Charlie Sheen’s.
Many Beltway insiders seem to have convinced themselves that abortion doesn’t matter anymore. Just look at the press clippings from CPAC, where Indiana Governor Mitch Daniels wowed his D.C. cheerleaders with a speech doubling down on his earlier call for a “truce” over culture-war issues like abortion. Chris Christie came into town a few days later, and excited a lot of the same people with a speech focused almost exclusively on the idea that entitlement-spending cuts are the nation’s top priority.
Chris Christie appointed a judge who's Muslim and seems like a solid selection: Mohammed has been a consistent advocate for increased dialogue between the Muslim community and law enforcement. The New York Times noted that Mohammed “helped arrange a law enforcement job fair at a Paterson mosque in which young Muslims were encouraged to apply for jobs with law enforcement agencies. The session also featured a question-and-answer session for mosque members with the police and prosecutors.” Mohammed has also given F.B.I. agents training sessions on Islam and Muslim culture. Kudos to Christie.