The Chris Christie “will he or won’t he” game has been running for months, but in the last week it’s reached a fever pitch. Pundits from every end of the conservative spectrum have been falling all over each other, trying desperately to decide if the New Jersey governor will make a White House bid. Dems are wondering if he can beat Obama, while the GOP has decided that he would be an instant frontrunner for the nomination. Sadly, no one seems to be asking why we’re supposed to be excited for a Christie presidency.
Right off the bat, we can acknowledge that Christie seems to generally despise unions. He’s focused multiple attacks on organized labor and, for the most part, managed to win those battles. This is no small feat in a state like New Jersey and, yes, it’s refreshing to see a prominent Republican willing to take on this issue in such an overt manner.
It’s a strong selling point for Christie, but it’s not enough.
Take a look at Ron Paul. He’d make a fantastic president, maybe one of the best this country has ever seen — if America were the only nation on Earth. Sorry, Ron, but Iran wants the bomb, and letting them have one is not a good way to ensure they don’t use it. Paul’s problem is that the rest of the planet exists, and his approach to the world stage paints him as a crackpot in the eyes of most Americans.
Like Paul, Governor Christie can’t run as “the guy who hates unions” and expect conservatives to ignore his failings regarding the rest of the issues facing the nation.
First, Christie has gone on record as an advocate for the passage of what he calls “common sense gun control” legislation. His state already requires gun owners to get a license to purchase rifles, shotguns and pistols. In order to get one, you have to take an application test and submit to multiple background checks. The purchase license expires in 90 days, at which point, if you want to buy again, you start the process over. This is already a bit more restrictive than most states’ gun licensing laws, since few states require purchase permits for anything other than handguns. Permits to carry (easily obtainable in many states) can be difficult to come by, with many residents complaining that police often refuse to issue them to anyone other than security professionals. One has to wonder, given New Jersey’s already ample gun control measures, what Christie thinks further “common sense” legislation would entail.
Second, Christie has bought in to the hokum of global warming/cooling/climate change. According to the governor, 90 percent of scientists agree on the topic, and he’s convinced. In an August interview, Christie announced that “climate change is real” and that “human activity plays a role in these changes.” He made no mention of the rapidly growing number of scientists that have spoken out against the notion of man-made global warming, preferring to stick with the politically correct line. Furthermore, he failed to acknowledge the basic truth that consensus and science are two different things. With the scandalous implosion of the Climatic Research Institute, most of the numbers used to promote climate change theory were proven bogus. A million scientists can agree on something, but if they don’t have reliable data to back up their assertion, it’s opinion and agenda, not science.
Finally, and most importantly, Christie has been suspiciously non-specific regarding his views on illegal immigration. He claims to want a “clear, understandable law that people can follow.” Well, we already have that: Don’t sneak into the country, and apply for citizenship via proper channels. We call it legal immigration. So, there’s obviously more to his position. In 2009, he told Politico that he believes in “having an orderly process — whatever that process is — for people to gain citizenship.”
On top of his lack of clarity regarding our current system, he’s repeatedly dodged the “amnesty” question, saying only that current illegals need to “go to the back of the line.” He’s failed to explain how “the back of the line” is any different than amnesty, if the person in question stays in the country while the queue moves forward.
Since we already have Herman Cain, a man who holds strong conservative credentials, has shown himself willing to answer questions clearly and who can match Christie’s pro-business, anti-union attitude, why are many on the right so excited about the New Jersey governor? He brings nothing to the table that we don’t currently enjoy, while carrying a mountain of baggage we don’t need.
Despite all of this, the Republican establishment seems to love him. If so, good for them. However, the rank and file is well aware that the “establishment” generously supplied us with both Bob Dole and John McCain. The “establishment” has shown itself willing, time and again, to throw its base under the bus.
If Chris Christie is the establishment candidate du jour, it may be reason enough for true conservatives to steer clear.
Robert Laurie is a Michigan-based conservative columnist and freelance writer. He also runs a daily political commentary blog at RobertLaurie.net.