The first time I heard Gov. Christie (R-NJ) speak I was impressed and delighted to hear candor, something that’s been missing in our national life for decades, maybe longer. I don’t know much about his policy positions. My reaction was entirely to the man. (Yes, he can border on rude, but no one is perfect.)
Yesterday he gave a speech at the Reagan Library on domestic and foreign policy – anyone reading that as a political ‘signal’ could not be blamed. It occasioned wall to wall time on cable because our Washington press corps always loves them a ‘flip flopper’ so the prospect of the biggest fish flop of them all was downright arousing. Tingle up the leg kind of arousing. But it sounds like they’ll be left at the altar.
I didn’t hear the speech, just the Q&A folllowing it and I’m even more impressed. People are so hungry for this kind of talk. People are so tired of political clichés and so weary of the pander. That is why he’s popular. Many on the left (my people!) have mocked him for this very quality which suggests to me only a willful blindness. And many on the right are unaware that he’s not of the Tea Party, that he is said to be more like an old time northeast Republican without the prep school and Yale.
Since I didn’t hear the speech I remain ignorant of his policy positions – I don’t know if he was advocating bombing Iran and invading China or building border walls and taking all the uppity girls out of school. But he shone in the Q&A. He was funny and self-deprecating. His answers were deft and to my ear totally honest.
Predictably he was asked if he would – indeed was begged to – run for President. Again, he was crystal clear – in the nicest way. And he said no. And no. And no.
So why was the Governor of New Jersey talking about foreign policy out in California to a huge and monied audience if he’s not running? Because I think he’s either running for Vice President in 2012, or laying the groundwork for 2016. And I think his personal appeal would make him formidable.
UPDATE: A lot of news stories and commentatary today suggest the writers seem not to have heard a definitive ‘no’ from Christie yesterday. I’m either naive or occupy a different universe than these people. For instance this, from Christie’s brother, as reported by The NY Times, is considered to be a dodge:
“I’m sure that he’s not going to run,” Todd Christie told The Star-Ledger. “If he’s lying to me, I’ll be as stunned as I’ve ever been in my life.”