I’m as impressed as the next guy by Christie’s political gifts. Yet, if I were putting bets down in the political marketplace, I’d be shorting his stock. Consider this astute observation from Ben Dworkin (quoted by Clift):“His refusal to join in [the lawsuits brought against ObamaCare by other states] suggests a degree of pragmatism that is attractive to non-true believers. This is a guy who has focused his message of change, and is clear about what he stands for. This is distinct from Obama's message of change, which meant different things to different people in 2008 and left almost everybody disappointed.”
Sound familiar? Dworkin’s description of Christie fits Rudy Giuliani like a glove, but the similarities don’t end there. Christie's aspiring to something that Giuliani actually managed to pull off, viz., securing the reputation of being the guy who kept liberal profligacy from driving his city/state off a cliff. Moreover, they both combine a reputation for ruthlessly effective administration with a northeastern Republican’s social liberalism and impatience with the ideological rituals of movement conservatism.“The way to understand Christie, says Ben Dworkin, director of the Institute for New Jersey Politics at Rider University, ‘is he has the leadership skills of a powerful prosecutor who happens to be governor. He argues his case in the press, and he stays on the attack constantly.’ As a federal prosecutor in New Jersey, Christie never lost a corruption case, and there were plenty in a state best known for The Sopranos. His favorite phrase: ‘heads I win, tails you lose.’”
This combination of political assets and liabilities didn’t take Giuliani very far as a national politician. And he enjoyed another asset beyond Christie’s reach; by the time he stepped onto the national political stage, 9/11 had already made Giuliani into “America’s mayor.” Why should Christie’s Giuliani-like virtues carry him any farther?