The Man Who Would Be President
Good news! By popular demand, “The Christie Chronicles” return today. Catch the first installment of a mini-series within the mega -series that has enthralled presidential politics wonks since 2012. The first 32 episodes of the “Chronicles” you may have missed can be accessed free of charge at marvinkitman.com.
Born to Run
When the making of the president 2016 is finally writ, a meme in all the books about the most farcical presidential nominating race since the Republican Party was a gleam in the eye of founding father John C. Fremont in 1856 will be:
What happened to Chris Christie?
You probably don’t remember but in 2012 Gov. Christie of New Jersey was the presumptive president-elect. The perpetual First Lady Nancy Reagan had invited him to deliver the keynote address at the opening of the Reagan Library early that summer.
As the cameras panned the audience, it seemed the entire Republican establishment leadership was in the seats. They were desperately looking for an alternative to run against Mitt the Bore.
Nobody else wanted it. The leaders were ready to give it to the governor on a platter. Not since the crowning of Dwight Eisenhower in 1952, did anyone have such a clear path to the nomination.
They were eating out of his hand. He had the nomination for the asking. Good God, this only happened once in a political lifetime. Barbara Walters predicted he would run, tantamount to a done deal. It was as if the audience was ready that summer evening to dance in the aisles with their version of Bruce’s “Born to Run” as the balloons dropped from the ceiling.
It’s your job if you want it, the establishment was saying. The governor could have been the savior of the Republican Party, saving it from Mitt.
The Democrats considered Christie to be an existential threat. They could not abide having as a sitting president a former prosecutor, who understands how corrupt politicians are. He fearlessly put hundreds of them in jail as the United States Attorney in Newark. True, most of them were Democrats. But he knew why politicians go into politics.
Unlike Republicans who go into politics for more idealistic reasons, balancing the budget and cutting taxes for the rich; or evangelicals who want to make this a Christian nation; or libertarians who want to eliminate the government, the surest way to reduce spending. Democrats go into politics because of the business opportunities.
Under no circumstance did the Democrats want to see him sitting in the White House, appointing prosecutors and Federal judges around the country. Chris Christie was the Democrats’ worse nightmare.
In the meanwhile, the “Christie for President in 2012” machine was secretly meeting in the back room of the Hackensack IHOP. Led by Rudy Giuliani and his Hench people, the pros were lining up financial commitments from well-heeled Christie supporters.
And then he made his famous speech.
“No, I’m not ready to be President.”
Instead, he decided to prepare himself for 2016 by running for a second term as a New Jersey governor. It would further embellish his already amazing achievement, a Republican being elected in blue collar Democratic state not only once, but twice.
As a result, Chris Christie today is as popular in New Jersey as Abraham Lincoln was in the Deep South in 1860.
He was very foolish in 2012. Look, even if he was not ready –he wouldn’t be the first candidate not ready— ran and lost in 2012, he would gotten improved name recognition and be able to run in 2016, this time as party’s titular leader. Now people are looking for a fresh face, and it isn’t his.
Under the leadership of Chris (Almost Ran) Christie New Jersey is falling off the cliff. The state’s credit rating has been lowered nine times. We are now 48th in new job creation. A leading export is wealthy people moving to other states, especially Florida, shrinking the tax base. The state’s Transportation Fund is bankrupt. Our bridges are falling down. The roads are pothole heaven. It’s as if we are living in a World War II movie, and the governor explains, “Yes, we had another bombing run this morning. Sorry about that.”
Compared to what is happening to his aura since turning his back on good fortune, losing in 2012 to Obama the foreign policy whiz who promised to get us out of the war in Iran and Afghanistan would have been a good career move. He could have come back in 2016 as a proven loser. A track record of failure traditionally never stopped Republican nabobs in the past from nominating their faithful.
While waiting for the right moment, he could have turned to an honorable profession as a lobbyist, maybe even as an NFL coach. Using his political muscle in New Jersey, he could have finally made it by law the Jersey Jets or Giants. Even both.
But all of that is ancient history.
Looking back on those golden wasted years, Candidate Christie could be forgiven for eating his heart out—one of the ingredients allowed on his new miracle diet— as he contemplates the latest turn in the road to the White House. The Man Who Would be President is making his debut in the fourth Republican Debate tonight on the Fox Business Network in a new position. For the first time, he has made the preliminary seven o’clock class of also-rans.
For those familiar with “the sweet science of boxing,” as A. J. Liebling called it, taking the podium with the other under 2.5 % crowd— Santorum, Jindahl, Huckabee, Graham, et al – is the equivalent of going from the main event in Madison Square garden to midweek fight nights at St. Nick’s or even Sunnyside Gardens in Queens.
The words of another New Jersey icon must be running through the governor’s mind. As Terry Malloy, the boxer, says in the Hoboken tourist bureau promotion piece, “ On the Waterfront,” “I coulda been a contenda.”
How did it happen?
Next: Where did he go wrong?
November 9, 2015