Somebody has to say it…

An inappropriately cynical view of Chris Christie, from a realpolitic perspective

I have been neglecting this blog as the election approaches, instead focusing on my Grossman Guide.  However, that site is non-partisan, and I have a few partisan and ridiculously inappropriate observations to share here.  Consider yourself warned.

The big news story from today was President Obama handling the fallout from Hurricane Sandy, looking presidential, and getting some unexpected kudos from Chris Christie, the Republican governor of New Jersey.  Now, Christie played this one exactly correctly; he slapped down any considerations of politics and focused his attention and remarks on helping the victims of the storm, as he should.  As a part of that, he heaped praise on Obama and his response to the storm, which only underscores the president’s competence in the last week before the election.

So, my inner cynic has been working this out, and I have a theory that is bound to upset some folks, but here it is:  I think Christie is making an intentional, politically-motivated power play.  I do not naively believe that the New Jersey governor, a prominent Republican thought to be on the short list for VP earlier in the cycle, is blind to the political significance of his comments.  Rather, I believe he had two reasons for boosting Obama at this critical juncture in the cycle.

First, Christie may feel snubbed at being passed over for the less-qualified, less-deserving Paul Ryan for the vice-presidential nod.  He would have added immeasurably more to the ticket, and I think he is unhappy at Romney’s decision.  Second, I believe that Christie plans to run for president, and an Obama re-election sets him up as one of the front-runners in 2016.  It simultaneously eliminates Ryan, who will be tainted with a Romney loss, and clears Romney out of the way, since if elected, he would presumably run for re-election in 2016.  Now, Christie can have the field to himself.

And what a field it is!  There are no- make that, NO- Democrats with a clear front-runner status.  Both Hillary Clinton and Joe Biden would be considered front-runners, but they will be rather old four years from now, which is a campaigning liability.  I believed that Christie’s decision not to seek the nomination this cycle was due to his calculation that it would be very difficult to unseat Obama, a political dynamo.  By waiting out his second term, Christie may make his eventual election to the presidency that much more likely.

At the same time, his reaction to the storm, especially in the face of a pending election, gives him bi-partisan credibility.  He put governance before politics at a crucial moment, and the moderates will remember this, as will many Democrats.  Any Republican backlash will ebb if and when he becomes the nominee, as we saw with the lining-up of support for Romney after a bruising primary.

So, controversial much?  I know.  But somebody had to share this opinion, as I’m sure it is shared by many other political observers out there.


Published in: on October 31, 2012 at 9:16 pm  Leave a Comment