Monday, March 10, 2014

THE PRAIRIE EDITOR: Less Ado About Christie

Some Democrats, perhaps recognizing New Jersey
Republican Governor Chris Christie’s immense potential
appeal to voters as a presidential candidate in 2016, have
seemed determined to “smear” him out of the race by
labeling him a “bully” and trying to associate him directly
with alleged scandals in his home state.

It could work. Democrats are very good at this sort of thing.
Their only problem, and this is very much part of his appeal,
is that Mr. Christie is not content, as are most Republican
politicians, just to play defense. 

There were several days a few weeks ago when it seemed
that most of the U.S. political news was about the so-called
“bridgegate” in New Jersey. Virtually every pundit, on the
right and the left, was writing Mr. Christie’s purported
presidential ambitions off. Soon, however, it became
apparent that the Democrats and their media allies (and
some GOP rivals) were trying, if you will,  to “bully” Mr.
Christie out of the national scene, and a number of
conservative politicians and commentators belatedly
rallied to his side.

Governor Christie's own response to the facts of the case,
and the allegations against him in the case, was a model
other politicians should try to emulate. He came forward
immediately, denounced the wrongdoing, fired those
evidently responsible, and apologized for what happened
"under his watch." Then he went back to his job.

In the meantime, the “hot’ story has become as cold as an old
political promise. Mr. Christie’s appeal as a fundraiser was
rejuvenated as he has broken records in obtaining funds for the
Republican Governors Association (of which he is this year’s
chair). Then, in an invited appearance at a very conservative
conference (which had refused to invite him a year ago), he
was warmly welcomed with a standing ovation. Finally, Mr.
Christie announced he would no longer answer questions
about “bridgegate,” having voluntarily been willing to answer
them at length previously.

Governor Christie has a long, long way to go if he wishes to
be the 2016 Republican presidential nominee. But he has so
far survived handily a major political crisis. Those in both
parties who wanted to push him out of the way now know
that the qualities that made him seem so formidable so
early in the political contest are much stronger and inherent
than perhaps originally thought.

Chris Christie might yet falter. He might not choose to run for
president. But if he enters the contest (presumably) in
2015, he will likely again be one of the frontrunners, and
probably the man to beat.

Copyright (c) 2014 by Barry Casselman. All rights reserved.

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