You know, yesterday, when I maintained that all the speculation about Chris Christie running for president was at an end, I made the mistake of coming at the issue with the perspective of a reasonable adult who hears a man say for the millionth time that he's not running for President, gets the message and decides to uphold the primacy of rational thought. The fact that this perspective is seldom shared by the people who cover politics was an obvious and terrible miscalculation on my part, because as far as anyone is concerned, Christie is still very much a possible 2012 contender.
See, after once again trying to make it clear that he was not to be thought of as a serious presidential candidate in 2012, Christie delivered his planned oration at the Reagan Library in Simi Valley, Calif. And, according to Ezra Klein, the twitterati immediately dubbed this the "Rashomon speech." Of course, it's not like Christie did anything to suggest that he had multiple points of view on the matter of running for president. Christie once again denied that he had any intention of running, but admitted that being thought of as a viable, sought-after candidate was, of course, flattering. Somehow, everyone watching the speech managed to decide that there were a lot of ways of looking at it.
So, this morning, newspapers are bedecked in post-modern headlines that speak to the inability of reporters to grapple with objective reality. Christie says he's not running, but he still "sounds like a candidate," says the Philadelphia Inquirer, because he made a speech on politics, and that's something candidates do! The New Jersey Star-Ledger's print headline echoed this, with the contradiction included: "Sounding like a candidate, Christie's still not running." One of my favorites is the New York Times' "Christie Adds Little New, but Fails to Quell the Talk." See, Christie didn't do anything to suggest that his "I'm not running" story had changed, but "talk" had not been "quelled." Chances are the unquelled talk was limited to the sounds that other reporters were making, but, having heard those noises, it's impossible to not report on them, right?
Standing before an exuberant crowd of the conservative elite, Gov. Chris Christie lashed out at President Obama tonight at the Ronald Reagan Presidential Library, sounding every bit like a candidate polishing his stump speech.
But when asked later whether he was running for president his answer was artful, not direct -- and not what many of the crowd of Republican faithful seemed to want to hear. They groaned at his response. He never said, "Yes I'm running," and he never said, "No I'm not."
Instead of his usual full-throated denial, Christie referred the audience to an online video including all the times he said he wasn't running for president.
"Click on it, those are the answers," Christie said.
So, let me get this straight. Chris Christie directed everyone to watch this video of him saying "no" to a presidential run over and over and over again, saying "those are the answers." All the non-reporters in the room immediately understood exactly what Christie meant and "groaned at his response." And yet the door is still opened because this wasn't a "full-throated denial" and "he never said, 'No I'm not,'" unless you count the video where he's saying "no I'm not" again and again for two minutes. But that's "artful" and "not direct." Who wrote this? The Star-Ledger's astrologist?
Megan DeMarco, who wrote a similar bylined report for the paper's Statehouse Bureau, can't seem to figure this out either:
Christie's unwillingness to directly address whether he planned to run for president left many still wondering -- after days of conflicting speculation -- what his true intentions are.
Who are these "many" people who can't figure this out? Apparently, it's "reporters from Politico":
But the political website Politico summed up the confusion by posting two headlines this afternoon. One read
"Christie source: Run still possible." Another in the next column read "Christie still not running."
Of course! Politico reports that Chris Christie may do something, unless he doesn't, in which case he won't. This is highly reminiscent of the time that the editorial board of the Indianapolis Star met with Indiana Gov. Mitch Daniels, which resulted in the publication of two pieces, one of which predicted a Daniels run and one of which didn't. Anyone remember how that ended up playing out? Because if Chris Christie is now just asking people to watch videos of him saying no to a presidential run, repeatedly, I'll guess that this is going to end the same way.
But as long as we ignore his obvious denials, we can still spend another month speculating about it!