Outside of foreign policy, Chris Christie’s speech yesterday was very interesting. He put himself squarely in the Ronald Reagan tradition by referencing the PATCO strike and the firing of the air traffic controllers, an event that happened 30 years ago last month. He also made a pretty strong case against President Obama’s leadership that could resonate with swing voters:
And still we continue to wait and hope that our president will finally stop being a bystander in the Oval Office. We hope that he will shake off the paralysis that has made it impossible for him to take on the really big things that are obvious to all Americans and to a watching and anxious world community.
Yes, we hope. Because each and every time the president lets a moment to act pass him by, his failure is our failure too. The failure to stand up for the bipartisan debt solutions of the Simpson Bowles Commission, a report the president asked for himself…the failure to act on the country’s crushing unemployment…the failure to act on ever expanding and rapidly eroding entitlement programs…the failure to discern pork barrel spending from real infrastructure investment.
Christie also criticized “a Congress at war with itself because they are unwilling to leave campaign-style politics at the Capitol’s door.” He cited the debt ceiling debate as an example. He took the position that these leadership failures were leading to a fiscal crisis and also a crisis of American leadership globally.
Paul Weyrich was right that conservatives are monarchists at heart. The minute a Republican demonstrates any rhetorical talent, much less governing aptitude, the right wants to crown him. Lowly tasks like serving as governor of New Jersey or chairman of the House Budget Committee must immediately give way, because only a president can fix what ails us. (In many respects, this is actually a profoundly un-conservative view.)
There are also good reasons to believe Christie when he says he’s not ready and to expect more out of him as an elected official before deciding to give him a promotion. Not everything about his record is conservative, he wasn’t even considered the conservative candidate in New Jersey’s Republican gubernatorial primary, and experience matters. Conservative commentators who live in the Northeast corridor underestimate the questions many grassroots conservatives have about the extent of Christie’s conservatism. I see such questions raised repeatedly in our comments threads.
Having said all that, the speech does remind me why so many people hope he’ll run and doesn’t do anything to discourage speculation that he ultimately will.
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