The Christie Question

Paul gave us his critical but fair-minded overview of Chris Christie the other day, leaving slightly open the possibility that Christie might be acceptable to conservatives.  I think a little better of Christie than Paul does, but likewise remain unconvinced, and unsure how well he plays outside of New Jersey.

If you think our dear, cuddly Paul can play rough, wait till you take in this assessment of Christie by Wlady Pleszczynski in The American Spectator.  No smoking next to this piece!  A few excerpts:

For one thing, there is glaring fact of his New Jerseyness. Big, fat, coarse, he’s forever pushing his weight around, playing the wise guy or the charmer, always insisting on being the center of attention (unless Barack Obama comes calling), the big shot in a small place, the son of a “Sicilian” (not Italian) mother, as he said at the Tampa convention. He may not know better. He’s never really lived and worked anywhere else. How someone this provincial can be said to have national ambitions is a mystery. . .

On election eve, President Obama called Christie from Air Force One and told him there was someone who wanted to speak with him. Next thing he heard, “Governor, this is Bruce.” Who needs the IRS to clinch an election when one has Chris Christie?

And yes, there’s no way to sugarcoat Christie’s betrayal of his own party’s candidate a week before Election Day. It’s one thing to act professionally when disaster strikes and the president comes calling. But did Christie essentially have to blow Romney off while repeatedly praising Obama as “incredibly supportive,” and “outstanding,” or to say the president deserved “great credit” and call theirs “a great working relationship”? I won’t describe the body language conveyed during their joint appearances, beyond noting that Christie later said he was pinching himself to be aboard Marine One.

To the credit of the Spectator, Matt Purple gives a rebuttal:

Any evaluation of Chris Christie’s presidential fitness must also grant that some of his actions have been inexcusable. He grew naively intimate with President Obama after Hurricane Sandy. His attack on House Republicans for trying to eliminate waste in the disaster relief bill was petulant. His speech at the 2012 Republican convention was self-serving. He can be impulsive and vindictive, the political equivalent of a neutron bomb—you lob him into a capital city and then run for your life in the opposite direction.

But what can’t be ignored, and what’s illustrated so well by his strip-mining of Sweeney’s budget, is that Christie’s explosions have redounded to the benefit of conservatives, blowing apart New Jersey’s Democrat establishment and creating a new political paradigm in one of the nation’s bluest states. Christie may be a neutron bomb, but he’s our neutron bomb, and beneath all the wires and fuses is a solid core of conservative principles that deserves national recognition.

There’s more to both of these articles, and it’s worth reading the whole thing.  I think this round goes to Wlady, but Purple’s case should be discussed and debated.