In the 6/22/11 submission of this space, “The Courtship Of Chris Christie,” I referred to several members of the New Jersey governor’s staff emphatically repeating the same thing: Under no circumstances would Christie be running for President of the United States next year. Period. In fact, the further the conversations progressed, the more agitated the voices became. It was as if I were joking or idly prodding to make a mockery of what Christie had told several CPAC gatherings and would be telling the former mayor of New York and perpetual fringe candidate Rudy Giuliani in what was considered then to be a Republican power lunch that very day.
No one appears to be joking about such a run now.
Although, again, this past week Christie vehemently denied even flirting with the idea of running to a rather incensed crowd at the Reagan Library. Christie rancorously deflected the beseeching in the same manner his staff did in June, an almost incredulous dismissal of what can only be considered fair queries. Earlier that day the NY Times website posted Christie’s itinerary for a cross-country trek through primary states in a fund-raising tour worthy of “exploratory” considerations.
Now it appeared the Christie people were merely fucking with us.
Of course, all this had the Reality Check News & Information bullpen up in arms. We had been berated several times three months ago for daring to press the governor on this point; mere days before Rick Perry became a household name for appearing weekly on televised debates as a queer fascination, like watching a German shepherd playing the harpsichord. Back then all those weeks ago, at the cusp of summer, Michele Bachmann was the anti-Mitt Romney Tea Party darling. Now, of course, Bachmann has been summarily eclipsed by Perry’s 15 minutes of apparent infamy, which has turned what we called Christie’s courtship into blatant begging.
But the begging was only coming from the basest base of the Republican Party. The elite, the Money Guys—the big business, Wall Street, international trade, corporate, geo-political wing of the GOP have stayed the course with the titular frontrunner. Mitt Romney has not disappointed. He has acted the way a man about to be the next in line for the GOP nomination acts. It is how Nixon acted in ’68, Bush Sr. in ’88, Dole in ’96 and McCain in 2008.
It’s Romney’s turn and if the machine heads who bore Karl Rove have their say, he will be standing tall after the New Hampshire primary, sending these queer distractions back to Sarah Palin-land. This way the money can be better spent wooing the dispossessed independent vote instead of trying to get in the trenches with pit bulls like Rick Perry or, god-forbid, Chris Christie.
And so Christie’s people had to answer the same June questions from us last night and again appeared to be stunned that anyone had the balls to broach this tired idea that their man would enter the fray simply because the grassroots cannot stomach supporting a Romney run, never mind actually voting for him. And since no one at the governor’s office wants to consider his candidacy anymore than interparty wrangling or media hype, then the only thing I could cull from this feigned indignation is that Christie has no interest in being the grassroots candidate this or any year. Christie wants to be the “next in line” guy, with months if not years of multi-state strategy and an organization with muscle, and not the Roman candle thing Perry has going right now. He wants to be Romney in 2016, and if that doesn’t work, 2020.
Christie is relatively young, and if he gets his health in order and cranks something viable from the state of New Jersey, he will be entrenched. Entrenched is how the Republican Party likes its candidates, lifers. No one, not even us, could fathom John McCain making it through the 2008 primaries intact. But we did not read the obvious tealeaves and paid for it. True, he was anti-Bush, which was the mantra then, and he appeared “electable”—a key element. But mostly, it was his turn, he was due, owed, a good Republican soldier, and therefore made his scheduled appearance and was trounced by a long shot.
Obama, then the long shot, now the sitting President, was something the Democrat elite tried desperately to derail. All those suckfish Clinton types with their years of service to some fanatical cause to nowhere. Obama hit the grassroots hard and somehow beat back the tides; not unlike George McGovern in ’72 or Jimmy Carter four years later. You think for one minute a right wing version of Michael Dukakis is making it through a Republican primary? Ask Fred Thompson, or maybe Mike Huckabee. Nice alternative, but thank you very much, have fun on Fox News.
Sure, the grassroots or extreme right or Tea Party or evangelical wing of the Republican Party wants in. They always want in. And sometimes they get a sniff, like when a crappy candidate with the stench of failure all over him needs their vote. Oh, the Money Guys will throw them Gays and Abortion and Homeland Security and they’ll swim like lemmings into the booth.
For a time, like the last few months, the Money Guys have cleverly placated the grassroots for fear some hybrid third-party gatecrasher might guarantee Barack Obama a second term. But there has been too much scratch and time invested in exploiting the so-called Tea Party movement to usher any 2010 congressional candidate into office that was willing to commit professional suicide by standing against this President on idiotic causes like putting the nation’s credit on the line to fight for something Republicans have scoffed at for decades: The nation debt.
Oh, the Money Boys are paying for that one. All of a sudden this “tax the upper one-percent” tide has given rise to legitimate debate, and not one of those guys want to be around to eat that shit.
At this point, a bland, almost sickeningly opaque mannequin of a candidate rides the coattails of one dismal Obama poll after the other into the White House. This, the Money Guys say, is how it will go down in 2012. No mavericks. No crazy people from Alaska. No pizza guys or thrice-divorced angry has-beens or even stammering Texas crackers this time. It’s wooden, hold-your-nose and vote or be stuck with Obama time.
Two party system.
James Campion is the Managing Editor of The Reality Check News & Information Desk and the author of Deep Tank Jersey, Fear No Art, Trailing Jesus and Midnight For Cinderella.