All signs are pointing to a Chris Christie campaign to be on the 2012 presidential ticket. He has started this campaign already by crisscrossing the country to promote Republican candidates in state-wide races. But up until recently, he has not proactively promoted the conservative social agenda. Yes, he is anti-choice and against marriage equality, but he has not yet pursued these measures with the same “in-your-face” approach as he has with his vendetta against public education and teachers. He is aware of the large number of his New Jersey constituents who still want social justice, and is more circumspect with regard to promoting the conservative line on women’s issues and gay rights. His relatively low-key approach is most likely designed to avoid firing up the opposition and maintaining as low a profile as he can here. But to become a national figure, Christie needs to demonstrate his embrace of the right-wing social agenda.
Christie’s approach to implementing the conservative platform is not subtle, but more incremental. He pleased his base by vetoing a $7.5 million bill for women’s health services even as he approved a gigantic tax cut for millionaires. Now, he is embracing another Palinesque initiative – abstinence education. Despite the fact that our schools are in dire financial straits and that it has been shown that such initiatives do nothing to stem the rates of teenage pregnancy, the Governor is promoting a $1 million program to tell teenagers to “just say no”.
Ratcheting up the right wing agenda is not the only sign that Christie has national ambitions. If you think his gallivanting around the country is limited to the upcoming elections, you are mistaken. He is already on the post-election tea party lecture circuit.
It has often been said that every state governor has presidential ambitions, and it’s difficult to find a politician more ambitious than Chris Christie. And there are lots of reasons for him to make his move in 2012.
Given the secret funding of Republican candidates by shadow groups, the fact that the GOP has a propaganda arm in Fox News that is second to none, including Pravda, and the fact that the 2012 election will be the first under the census redistricting controlled mostly by Republican governors, there’s a good chance that Barack Obama will be a one-term president. If Christie is not on the 2012 ticket, his next chance to run for national office could potentially be 2020 – a lifetime in presidential politics. Sure, he’ll be only 58 years old then, but he will have had a much longer track record of mistakes and miscues than he has today. And the demographics of the electorate will be different, with a larger percentage of the non-white population included in the mix.
So is Christie aiming for the top slot, or looking to become Joe Biden’s successor? The way the stars are aligned today, it seems unlikely that he would be successful in challenging Sarah Palin, Mitt Romney, or Mike Huckabee. But why would someone as ambitious as Christie settle for the number two spot? This question can be answered in two words: Dick Cheney. Cheney was the second in command to a weak, clueless, and gaffe-prone George W Bush. Christie may view himself in the same powerful role under a President Palin. And without any debilitating health problems like those that plagued Mr. Cheney, Christie would then be viable as a 2020 candidate at the top of the ticket. Of course, there’s plenty of time for the top contenders to stumble, leaving room for the Meshuggineh from Mendham to step in.
The only significant impediment to a Christie run is his lack of foreign policy experience. To the xenophobic Tea Party, this is not a significant issue because diplomacy requires nuance, and the GOP does not do nuance. But it might be an important issue to the rest of the electorate, especially given that we will still be in combat in Afghanistan and Iraq, and possibly Pakistan, when the election comes around. So watch for Christie to ramp up his foreign policy creds – perhaps by participating in missions abroad to promote New Jersey business, or perhaps by participating on foreign junkets with some of his congressional friends. Such actions would confirm his desire to be on the 2012 ticket.
Christie is smart to lay back and let the big guns fight it out right now. But don’t be surprised to see our absentee governor vacationing in Iowa or New Hampshire next year.