While many conservatives still may be wondering what went wrong with New Jersey Governor Chris Christie, for most of us, the handwriting has been on the wall for some time. He is a liberal masquerading as a conservative.
Christie rose to Republican super-stardom after handily defeating Democrat incumbent Governor Jon Corzine, breaking a streak of Democratic victories in a state where John McCain lost to Barack Obama by more than 15 percent. Christie seemed poised to become the GOP’s electoral savior, emerging from the northeast political wasteland to lead Republicans to the Promised Land.
It started as a love fest. Early in the 2012 primary season, Christie was the most prominent candidate conservatives were hoping would throw his hat into the ring. His brash, in-your-face style contrasted favorably with that of more traditional and cautious GOP establishment candidates, like Mitt Romney. Christie’s public battles with New Jersey’s teacher’s unions solidified his “street cred” with conservatives, as he excoriated union bosses. Many conservatives actually were disappointed when Christie decided to forgo the presidential race in 2012 to focus on New Jersey, and -- it was assumed -- to establish a foundation for a run in 2016.
But all was not well in Oz; there always was something troubling about Christie’s conservative conversion. “In the primary, Christie ran as a conservative, but ever since he's been lurching to the left,” New Jersey Star-Ledger columnist Paul Mulshine wrote in July 2009, a month after Christie won the Republican Primary. Christie is still lurching, if not racing in that direction.
Time, as it so often tends to do, has revealed a side to Christie that was well-observed by New Jersey politicos during the gubernatorial contest, but was largely hidden from outsiders until Christie was thrown onto the national stage. As Mulshine observed in 2009, Christie’s conservative credentials were nothing more than ambiguous sound bites, coupled with a masterful strategy of bobbing and weaving to deflect questions that would have forced him into articulating a conservative position on issues.
So today, we see a Christie more comfortable in the company of Barack Obama than in front of a crowd of grassroots conservative activists. For example, rather than recognize the shifting political landscape against unchecked government surveillance of U.S. citizens, Christie attacked Sen. Rand Paul with a vehemence more pronounced than Harry Reid would use – actually calling Paul’s mainstream concern about such policies “dangerous.” Christie’s embrace of the Surveillance State may be the final straw after a long string of conservative disappointments from the Guv, including his uncomfortably and continuing cozy relationship with Obama following Storm Sandy.
Christie now finds himself in the middle of a Second Amendment battle, where both gun control advocates and gun owners are closely watching his next move. Three bills sitting on his desk would have a significant and negative impact on Second Amendment rights in the Garden State. Considering Christie’s track record over the last year, conservatives have good reason to worry.
There is little doubt Christie is trying to lay a path to the White House in 2016 -- branding himself as a reformer not afraid to walk across the aisle to get things done. Cooperation, of course, can be a productive trait in a political arena paralyzed by partisanship. Ronald Reagan, the Great Communicator, had a knack for bringing together coalitions to win key legislative victories for conservatives. However, Reagan always remained firmly rooted in conservative principles, which gave him unassailable credibility with the conservative base.
With a pedigree resembling that of Richard Nixon, Christie is no Ronald Reagan.
What the GOP needs in 2016 is a leader who can be trusted to reverse the dangerous fiscal, social and national security policies of the Obama Administration. Christie has not exhibited any indication he is willing to do this; in fact, just the opposite.
There should be no room in the GOP for Christie’s nebulous, if not disingenuous, political games; and, it is time conservatives show him the door before his carefully self-nurtured image as the GOP “tough guy” -- able to take on all Democratic comers -- destroys any remaining semblance of the conservative GOP base first constructed by Reagan two generations ago. If Christie really wants to take on Hillary, let him do so in the arena far better suited for liberals and moderates like him – the Democrat Party.