Become a digitalPLUS subscriber. 99¢ for 4 weeks.
NewsOpinion

Is Chris Christie the one?

Last August before a closed meeting of Republican leaders in Boston, Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey said, "We are not a debating society. We are a political operation that needs to win."

Tuesday night, Mr. Christie won. Big time. In one of the nation's bluest states, Governor Christie got 60.5 percent of the vote. His Democratic opponent, Barbara Buono, claims she lost because "Democratic political bosses" made a deal with Mr. Christie "despite him representing almost everything they're against. ... They did it to help themselves politically and financially." In other words, they voted out of self-interest. Imagine that. Self-interest in politics.

"I didn't seek a second term to do small things," Mr. Christie said Tuesday night. "I sought a second term to finish the job. Now watch me do it."

It was the first Christie speech I have seen in several months, and it was the first time I didn't think of his weight before considering his words. Mr. Christie, who had lap-band surgery to lose weight, appears committed to slimming down and looks good. If he can drop another 50 to 100 pounds, he could be in shape for 2016. After demonstrating his ability to attract Democrats and Independents during his re-election campaign, Mr. Christie must be considered the front-runner for the Republican presidential nomination.

"A political celebrity" is what Newark Star-Ledger reporter Jenna Portnoy called him in her Election Night story. The last time Republicans had one of those his name was Ronald Reagan.

Governor Christie does more than dump on Washington's gridlock and dysfunction. He contrasts his accomplishments with Washington's failures. It's not only style, but substance. As when he said Tuesday night: "I know that if we can do this in Trenton, New Jersey, then maybe the folks in Washington, D.C., should tune in to their TVs right now and see how it's done."

Virtually everyone runs against Washington, but none have been able to slay the dragon. That's because changing Washington ought not be the goal; the goal should be to change ourselves and our attitudes about government. Virtually everyone dislikes "Washington," but when it comes to giving up a favorite program, they resist. If Mr. Christie seeks the presidency, he will have to say what he will eliminate and how he will do it, as well as tell voters they must do more for themselves. The force of his personality will not be enough. Few change Washington. Usually Washington changes them.

For Mr. Christie to have a successful run at the presidency, he might assemble a bipartisan group of advisers. If he has Democrats working with him, that would make it more difficult for them to attack him, giving him the chance to replicate nationally what he has done in New Jersey. He doesn't have to compromise his principles. He should focus on what works. It's one thing to take on the unions in New Jersey, for example. It's quite another to take them on nationally.

Should Mr. Christie run for president, the national media will initially be torn between a sure-fire ratings booster like Mr. Christie and the possibility of the first woman president. Ultimately, it'll be no contest. Media will likely back Hillary Clinton.

But Hillary Clinton can be beaten. After all, Barack Obama did it. In 2008, it was a choice for Democrats between Ms. Clinton and the first African-American president. That choice won't be as profound, or as historic, in two years. Mr. Christie will have to run on a platform of knowing how to succeed, which puts Ms. Clinton at a disadvantage, since her list of accomplishments is meager, if not nonexistent.

The conservative wing of the GOP will have to decide whether they want purity or victory. No politician (including the sainted Reagan) is perfect.

At the August GOP gathering in Boston, Mr. Christie said, "I'm in this business to win. ... If we don't win, we don't govern. And if we don't govern, all we do is shout into the wind...."

This country needs someone who will govern. Is Chris Christie the one?

Cal Thomas is a syndicated columnist. He can be reached at tcaeditors@tribune.com.

Copyright © 2014, The Baltimore Sun
Related Content
  • Failure to launch
    Failure to launch

    The spectacular explosion that destroyed a privately owned spacecraft seconds after lift-off from NASA's Wallops Island launch pad in Virginia Tuesday was a temporary setback for Orbital Science, the company that developed the unmanned vehicle, but if history is any guide it won't...

  • Voting machine mistakes [Poll]
    Voting machine mistakes [Poll]
  • Remembering Frank Mankiewicz
    Remembering Frank Mankiewicz

    In the hard-boiled if fading world of print journalism, it's often said that the only way to look at a politician is down. And the worst crime of all is to work both sides of the street, doubling as a reporter while working for a pol, or vice versa.

  • A message to the netherworld
    A message to the netherworld

    Blessed with an appetite for good Italian sausage served with peppers and onions, as well as an abundant curiosity, I took myself to The Great Halloween Lantern Parade and Festival last Saturday night without knowing quite what to expect. The only person I'd ever met who had seen the...

  • Repeating our Middle East mistakes
    Repeating our Middle East mistakes

    President Barack Obama's latest foray into the Middle East is unfortunately reactive and uninformed and shows how very little he seems to take into account our bloody history in the region.

  • Democrats run the economy better
    Democrats run the economy better

    There are many reasons to be a Democrat — civil rights, environmental protection, protecting national security without being the world's policeman, and more. Yet, the Democratic Party's strongest advantage over our Republican opponents is that Democrats run the economy far...

Comments
Loading