Wednesday, October 5, 2011

The decision by New Jersey Governor Chris Christie (bats right/eats left) not to enter the Republican presidential sweepstakes will leave unanswered some super-sized questions about national politics:

Would American taxpayers have been willing to pay for the installation of double wide seats on Air Force One? Could Christie have made working out with the knife and the fork the latest fitness craze? Would he have been the first president since William Howard Taft to get wedged in the White House bathtub?

But enough with the fat jokes: Calbuzz doesn’t have much standing to hurl outsized insults.

As the Beltway pundit class loses its latest obsession and the governor of girth returns to Trenton, onetime capital of the nation, to ponder weighty matters like a tax break for Snooki, a few blinding insights on l’affaire Christie:

1-The biggest losers in the deal are the Republican elites, from Karl Rove and Bill Kristol to Mitch Daniels and Rupert Murdoch, who saw in Christie a strong Obama challenger who could bridge the gap between Tea Party mad dogs and the GOP silk stocking establishment of big donors, policy intellectuals and Washington officeholders.

Now these would-be kingmakers once again are stuck with an unhappy choice between a nominal but weak front-runner, in the oleaginous person of Mitt Romney, who’s viewed as a retrograde RINO by the arch right-wingers who will dominate the Republican primary electorate, and his flawed chief foil, the increasingly embarrassing Rick Perry, whose rants against Social Security, Sarah Palin-style shallowness and excessive evangelicalism would be tough to translate for a general election audience of normal people.

As a practical matter, this means that you can look for establishment types to grit their teeth and start singing the praises of His Mittness, as the loathsome David Brooks did in the Times on Monday, while cajoling Tea Partiers, whose energy and enthusiasm they need to recapture the White House, with the argument that anybody’s better than Obama.

2-The biggest winner is Perry, whose recent practice of firing both barrels at his own feet have sent him plummeting in the polls, but who now has an opening to reboot and reintroduce himself to GOP voters, starting with next week’s WashPost debate in New Hampshire.

Other beneficiaries of Christie’s retreat are the hang-around half-dozen of the Republican field, going nowhere candidates who all will doubtless see a fresh chance to step over Perry and take on the role of chief rival to Romney.

Not Herman Cain

It’s hard to take anyone in this crowd too seriously, but it’s remotely possible, if you squint really, really hard, to see how Jon Huntsman could conceivably rise, if he can ever stop sleepwalking and telling jokes that no one understands, and how the repulsive Rick Santorum could yet become the favorite of the pitchfork crowd, based on his Medieval moral views and ability to speak in complete sentences.

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