Across the river to the Jersey side

5 02 2014

I’m still unwilling to weigh in in any sustained manner on the 2016 presidential race—let’s get thru the midterm elections first, shall we?—but I’m not not paying any attention whatsoever.

We’re at the stage that Jonathan Bernstein calls the “invisible primary”, when all of the action is behind-the-scenes and limited to a comparatively few people: potential candidates, fundraisers, high-level organizers and would-be staffers. If you’re not one of those folks, and if you’re not a political scientist, there’s no reason other than sheer cussedness (or masochism) to pay attention now.

Still, things do pop up. Or just plain ‘pop’.

I’m talking, of course, about Chris Christie.

I didn’t/don’t take him seriously as a 2016 candidate because I’m not taking anyone seriously: I’m not a part of the invisible primary and while I am a political scientist, American politics ain’t my field. Still, I’m not willing to poke out my eyes, so I have noticed one or two items about his possible candidacy.

I know some Dems were/are worried about him, but I think they were/are foolish to do so. It’s not that he wouldn’t be (or wouldn’t have been) a strong general-election candidate, but that the main work of shredding him would be performed by his fellow Republicans.

Yes, any decent Dem is going to do all of the opposition research and analysis, but chances are any dirt would be dug by the GOP, specifically, those who would run against Christie in the primary. Ted Cruz would be the one to ferret out corruption and Rand Paul would bring up issues of government spending; Rick Perry would talk about the difficulties of doing business in the Garden State and Scott Walker would hit him on union issues. And Rick Santorum. . . , well, christ, he’d do his Rick Santorum thing.

Could Christie make it through that gantlet?

I don’t know. It’s possible—primary voters have to pick the best available candidate, not the theoretically-best candidate—and it’s not as if Christie’s skills have suddenly disappeared. But his weaknesses have become manifest, and magnified, since the bridge scandal broke, and it’s not at all clear that his skills will be enough to overcome those problems.

Especially if his fellow Republicans insist upon drawing attention to those problems.

In the meantime, Christie’s problems shouldn’t matter to you if you’re not a) a New Jersey resident; b) an invisible-primary actor; c) a political scientist; or d) cussed and/or a masochist.

We now resume our regular programming.

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