Monday, November 15, 2010

2012 Dreamin'

As sure as night follows day, the end of the midterm elections marks the beginning of talk about who will be running for the 2012 GOP nomination. Thought, to tell the truth, that talk has already been out there since the end of the 2008 elections. THe NYT reports that there are a lot of people sticking toes and feet into the water, but no one set to declare or even set up a campaign committee.

The first debate has already been scheduled by NBC and Politico for Spring of 2011 at the Reagan Library. Oh geez! Please don't do this. Hugh Hewitt pleads with potential candidates to "Just say no to Nancy Reagan." Hewitt's objection is that the questions put forth by an NBC and Politico panel would come from the left and that is not what is of interest to the GOP electorate. He wants conservatives to be posing the questions. That isn't my objection - I figure that, to win the general election, a Republican needs to be able to answer the sorts of questions that the mainstream media puts forth. Republicans need someone who can rise above journalistic bias to reach a general audience. In fact, the truly talented candidates can use any sorts of biased question as an opportunity to turn the tables and frame the question as he or she wants to answer and wants to help the American public understand a conservative message.

The person who does this best right now is Chris Christie. That is why his videos have become internet hits so popular that they're now being called "Chris Christie porn." Allahpundit links to the latest porn where Christie talks about the lessons he learned from his mother. Allahpundit notices something that I've been remarking on for several weeks now. Every time Christie has one of these golden moments, his staff sends out a blast email with the video linked. If he makes a speech or appears on TV, I get an email. If there is an editorial praising him, sure enough I get the emails. This is a man who wants to raise his national image among conservative bloggers. Why else write an obscure blogger in North Carolina with a link to an editorial in a local New Jersey paper or a link to his appearance on Meet the Press? Is he running for something? Should we listen to his strong denials of any interest in 2012 or is something else going on? Allahpundit links to a column by Mitchell Blumenthal that puts forth another hypothesis.
What Christie is not saying—what he could never say, without wrecking his skillfully wrought image as a straight-talker whose only interest is in fixing his deeply distressed home state—is that he is working like hell to become the favorite, obvious, choice for vice president in 2012. Between the narrative he has constructed at home as the fearless enemy of budget-wrecking special interests, and the chits he has been busy racking up by raising money for Republican candidates from one end of the country to the other, he is putting himself in Position A to be recruited as a running mate.

Christie, whose ego may be catching up to his appetite, said last week, “Can you see me as somebody's vice president? I mean, who would be that poor guy? You know, I just don't think that my personality is necessarily suited to being No. 2.”

Sure. Neither was Lyndon Johnson’s. Or Dick Cheney’s.
Blumenthal argues that Christie's personality is more suited to the traditional bulldog role of the vice president in today's politics.
Geographically and politically, Christie is a Republican campaign operative’s dream for the vice presidential slot.

To most Republicans, he’s a straight-talking fiscal and social conservative: a more conservative version of a Rockefeller Republican to be sure, but without the stigma of being effete or a moral relativist. To Southerners, who are turned off by northern politicians with a permissive social agenda and metrosexual patina, Christie’s pro-life stance passes the smell test.

And he brings to the table the potential to deliver votes across a large swath of the Northeast, particularly in the Philadelphia and Connecticut suburbs, where Christie receives ample media coverage, as well as New Jersey.

Brigid Harrison, a political science professor at Montclair State University, said she saw the deft hand of Karl Rove at work in Christie’s carefully plotted midterm itinerary, giving speeches and collecting I.O.U.s from candidates of a like-minded political temperament, but not straying over to radioactive Tea Partiers like Christine O’Donnell in Delaware or Sharon Angle in Nevada, both of whom went down to defeat.
Well, perhaps. I still don't see him as a vice president. He's a top-of-the-ticket guy. And he's got to buckle down and see his agenda through in New Jersey. That will take time and the results won't be clear until after the time that a presidential candidate would need to have the campaign put together. Better he should achieve what he needs to do in New Jersey and wait another cycle or two.

But if he did throw his hat into the ring, he'd have more time in office than the previous governor of New Jersey to become president. Woodrow Wilson became governor of New Jersey, his first political job, in 1911 and then went on to be elected in 1912. Of course, he wouldn't have been able to do that if the Republicans hadn't split their votes between President Taft and Theodore Roosevelt. So Christie does have an example to follow.

Just keep those emails coming. I can wait until 2016.