Christie for Supreme Court
There are those who think my otherwise brilliant analysis of the Christie Conundrum — which asked the question: does he really want to run, jog or even skateboard for president? — was marred by the assumption, as I argued, that the only way we will rid our state of the governor is by kicking him upstairs to the White House. How Machiavellian can I get?
At the risk of diminishing my laurels as a political prognosticator, in all modesty, I confess I did not invent this looney theory. It first crossed my radar while studying the career of New Jersey’s last governor who made it to the Big House by the Potomac.
As President of Princeton University (1902-1910), Woodrow Wilson was considered a nut. The grad school faculty, for example, wanted a new building at the edge of campus so grad students could study in peace and quiet. Wilson wanted it in the center of campus so undergrads could contemplate the grad students. The fight between factions grew so bitter that Cleveland Dodge, leader of the big money Tiger alumni, realized they had to get him out of the groves of academe. So they used their influence and got him elected Governor of New Jersey. He was such a radical in Trenton, wanting to do all sorts of crazy reforms, the Legislature said we had to get rid of this madman. All they wanted to do is have their usual corrupt politics. He’s nuts. So in the smoked- filled rooms, they managed to get him the Democratic presidential nomination in 1913. Thus, the pox might be spread evenly among the other states, too.
The twenty-eighth President, who pledged to keep us out of war, somehow got the insane idea that 1914 was the war that ended all wars. By 1919, at the Paris Peace Treaty, he was promulgating the wild and crazy notion that the world was ready for democracy, a concept GWB used to justify the Iraq invasion.
The same thing, incidentally, happened in New York state in the late 1920’s with Roosevelt. He was so progressive Tammany hated him. The only way to get rid of him was too nominate him for president. A respected political historian, who filled in the details for me, argues that the Wilson case was the original idea for the Peter Principle: Get promoted until you reach the top level of incompetence. Instead of ruining the neighborhood, they can ruin the whole country.
Now back to the argument in progress.
Here Come da Judge
As I was saying in my dissertation yesterday, there seems no doubt our governor will need to fall on his sword. With the results of 38 subpoenas hanging over his head, it will either be by criminal indictment, resignation, impeachment, or otherwise leaving the playing field in disgrace. Hot Horse Herbie of Plank Road in Little Ferry says it could happen during the fourth scandal. Four scandals and you’re out in New Jersey politics.
Will having his escutcheon besmirched hurt the governor’s chance of being nominated in 2016? No. They were nil to start with.
As a smart politician, he never seriously thought that he would be the favorite son of the Republican base, that solid 25% calling the shots in national elections. The base will stick to social issues, abortion, against the minimum wage, in favor of pollution, let the food stampees eat cake, all things bound to guarantee the GOP losing elections, as if God ordained. With his vulnerabilities, such as being soft on compromise and co-existence with the opposition party, Christie is like Trotsky to the base’s Stalinism.
Year after year, when I was growing up during the Socialist era of FDR, we always had the exciting Robert A. Taft as contender. Wendell Willkie in 1942 was the last fluke nominee. As Halperin and Heilemann point out in “Double Down,” our party is governed by primogeniture. Now it’s his turn, the faithful said about Mitt in 2012.
To make it even more exciting every four years, we find as presidential timber the odd fruitcakes like Michelle Bachman and Mister 999 Cane, and in 2016 the field will be enriched by the idiot-dujour, Ted Cruz. After the traditional 19 primary debates, in which the usual suspects stand on stage like perps in a police line up, the base will pick Mitt again in 2016. After all, he came so close in 2012, it will be argued. He would have won the election if it wasn’t stolen by the Chicago Obama thugs.
If Christie was smart now, he would steal a page from LBJ’s 1968 playbook, call a press conference, and announce he will not seek or accept his party’s nomination for president in 2016.
What could Christie hope to gain by continuing the charade of being a potential candidate? A Fox News gig as an analyst, the plum Roger Ailes drops on the vanquished warriors every post-election?
Or he might run for governor again. Even if he managed to throw his weight around and got a constitutional amendment eliminating two-term statute, the so-called Banana Republic rule of moving the goal posts, the job doesn’t have a future.
At the end of the long road, my theory is what he really wants to do, deep down in his heart, is become a Supreme Court justice, even the Chef Justice, replacing John Roberts. This is not so far- fetched. He was a lawyer, a former U. S. Attorney before he turned to a life of crime, as some think of New Jersey politics.
Here’s my thinking:
Christie’s presidential role model was not Richard Nixon, or even Abraham Lincoln. It is William Howard Taft, who I happen to think was the last good Republican president.
Another reason for Christie removing himself from the race peremptorily is that he will avoid running into the Taft Curse. There hasn’t been a fat president since William Howard Taft. Americans don’t trust fat men. Taft is the man who Secretary of State Elihu Root, when cabled by then Governor-General of the Philippines (Taft), that he had just ridden 25 miles into the jungle on horseback, cabled back, “How is the horse?” At 307 pounds, after his election, Taft got stuck in the White House bathtub. A famous photo op of the period showed four plumbers standing in the bathtub they had just installed. All of this was long before Nixon’s plumbers. The Taft tub is still in storage, die-hard supporters of the Draft Christie for President movement will be pleased to learn.
What is less known about Taft he is the only American president to also serve as Chief Justice. Appointed in 1921 by Warren Harding, he served until his death in 1930.
Gov. Christie might consider growing a handlebar mustache as reminder of his Taftesque future in jurisprudence. There is at least one non-entity currently on the bench who Christie taking the Taft seat, or sofa, would enhance. Justice Thomas apparently has not opened his mouth once in the last five years of arguments in court. Justice Christie would increase the noise level.
And why am I being so helpful, doing this career counseling for our governor? It’s not because I am lobbying for a Turnpike service area to be named after me — the state’s highest honor. Not that I would mind having one of the pumps so named, when the Port Authority gets around to selling naming rights along the Turnpike to keep the tolls down, and real estate investments up.
I feel it is my duty to my state — to which I have committed my life, my children, my sacred honor and my property tax payments — to improve New Jersey’s image.
Does any of this strike you as wrong?
In the words of Chris Mathews, your thoughts?
March 6, 2014