No political figure in recent history has toyed and manipulated the media for strictly personal gain better than New Jersey governor Chris Christie. By simply not declaring his candidacy, he's been able to attract the kind of media tsunami only dreamed of by actual candidates (Anyone remember Michele Bachmann? I'm not even sure she does.).
But what's behind all this media tumult? For one, the GOP apparatchiks -- William Kristol in the Weekly Standard among many other lesser intellects -- are thoroughly horrified and perplexed by the current slate of Republican presidential candidates. While that's a bad sign for the GOP, it's a lucky break for Obama, who will undoubtedly have a herculean task ahead of him to win another term. Secondly, the draft-Christie movement and ensuing media frenzy are the result of a classic grass-is-greener scenario. Everyone loves the guy because he doesn't have to take a stand on anything and can be viewed as above the petty political fray; it's the political version of Goldilocks and the Three Bears. Christie is the antidote to Romney (too Mormon), Bachmann (too crazy), and Perry (too unstable), but what kind of antidote? What do GOP voters really know about Christie? Most of the Republicans pushing and pleading for him to enter the race have no idea what Candidate Christie will eventually stand for. They are seemingly drawn to his rotund aura for a few reasons: He hails from the liberal/socialist Northeast and, thus, potentially gives the Republicans a shot of winning New Jersey in the general election, a feat that hasn't been accomplished since the Democrats had the unfortunate luck of nominating Michael Dukakis in 1988. Secondly, his bluster, bloviating, lack of manners, bull-in-a-china-shop mentality, and missing decorum play well among the party faithful. They might point to copious YouTube clips of Christie berating average New Jersey citizens, which might look pretty familiar as proven by the last few Republican debates -- the rabid crowds who booed a gay soldier; howled in glee at the news of the death of an uninsured man; and cheered at the mere mention of the death penalty. The Republican voters in 2011-12 want to be viewed as the pugnacious schoolyard bullies, roughing up and stealing the lunch money from spineless liberal weaklings. (The crowd reactions at the debates alone only further prove that the meat-and-potatoes Republican Party is now chockablock with right-wing extremists.)
But at the end of the day, the Republican Party voters really have no idea who Chris Christie is; he's more a cult of personality now than a politician of substance. And while many GOP voters may say in public just how much they adore the guy, when it comes time to actually pulling the lever in the voting booth in the primary, they'll likely feel a whole lot more comfortable supporting a conservative extremist this time around than an unknown. They may argue that Christie's the kind of candidate who needs quite a bit more time basting on the national stage, say, four more year's worth of time.
So while the media ping-pongs, debates, and pontificates over "Will he" or "Won't he," Christie laughs all the way to 2016 -- and along the way he secretly hopes Barack Obama wins reelection. Should that happen, who'll be the frontrunner for the 2016 GOP nomination -- and possibly the presidency itself? Sure as hell not Mitt Romney -- for a third time. The answer is, of course, none other than Chris Christie. So why on earth would he blow his load now and jump into the race only to (likely) lose to Obama? It's a move that will sully his chances for 2016, possibly even torpedoing his candidacy entirely. Christie isn't an idiot. He probably realizes it's best for him to whisper sweet nothings in the ear of the media now, give lip service to the eventual Republican nominee, and then yearn deep in his heart for an Obama victory in 2012.
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