Tuesday, December 13, 2011

Chris Christie watch

There are many conspiracy theories. This one is mine.

Today's supporting evidence that Chris Christie is running a stealth campaign for 2012 earns a "not bad" from Ethan Nadelmann, founder and executive director of the Drug Policy Alliance.
New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie (R) spoke out against the war on drugs on Monday, saying that "we need to do much different and much better than what we've done."

"I don't believe the only weapon we use against the drug problem is incarceration," he said in a short video released by his office. "I just don't think it's worked. And I think we see it over and over again that there's evidence that it hasn't."
This was a local event where Christie was touting how much he saved the state of New Jersey in incarceration costs with the his expansion of the state's drug court program. It's actually good policy and Christie defends it well.
Such programs defy Republican orthodoxy on the drug war, but Christie insisted that treatment, unlike jail time, attacks the root causes of drug-related crime: "Our experience tells us that there's a lot of folks who are non-violent drug offenders who are spending a lot of time in ... prisons and not being treated for the underlying addiction that's the problem that drives their continued involvement in crime."
This is exactly the sort of rhetoric that could win over a lot of Ron Paul voters and other libertarians.

I'm fascinated with my fixation on this theory. I know it's too loopy to come true and Lord knows I want to be wrong, but think about it in the long term. Any candidate that can win the GOP nomination has to skew so far to the fringe right, there's no way their platform can translate successfully to the general. The only way to solve that problem is to anoint a candidate who wasn't tainted as part of that process.

Christie is an insufferable, pompous gasbag, firmly residing in the pocket of the plutocrats but he projects independence with regular breaks from the GOP orthodoxy on issues that appeal to a significant segment of libertarians. Sometimes even liberals praise his positions. His arrogant "in yer face" style appeals to the independents who swing to the guy with the best swagger. He's "definitely" not running but he's appearing regularly at rallies in key states in support of his endorsed man Willard. He often steals the show.

More importantly, he's mastered the internets as well, or perhaps better, than Obama. He built national name recognition with his videos, many of which went viral. He shakes off criticism like a dog coming out of the water. The legacy media love him. If I was a GOP power broker, I would be trying to make it happen.

Not saying it would easy to pull this switch at the GOP convention. But it's early. Anything can happen and it doesn't look entirely impossible, at least not yet.

[More posts daily at the Detroit News.]

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Blogger merlallen said...

Or they could just lie to the rubes to win the primaries. Then run a campaign for normal people in the general. It wouldn't really hurt his reelection chances. They have very short memories. They've already forgotten GWB.

3:00:00 PM  
Blogger Libby Spencer said...

That's traditionally been the case merlallen but not sure that would work as well anymore. The rubes may not remember, but the internets never forget and there's a wealth of youtubes to remind them.

3:10:00 PM  
Blogger Batocchio said...

I don't see it. Joining as a VP candidate or running in 2016 are both more likely. But I think he mainly likes the attention and the accolades, and I think you're picking up on that and his long-term ambitions. His brand is stronger if he can't be exposed as a fraud on a national stage. (No current major Republican plans work in reality.)

5:14:00 PM  
Blogger Libby Spencer said...

Admit it's far fetched Batocchio and unlikely to happen. Mainly because the GOP powerbrokers can't control their rubes anymore. But it's not impossible that it could happen under the right circumstances. And if Christie could parachute in, Sarah Palin style for just a couple of months... Not much time to ruin his brand nationally on that timetable.

And if it did happen, he could win. Especially if Obama keeps pissing off the lefty activists.

9:02:00 PM  

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