January 9, 2013
REUTERS/New Jersey Governor's Office/Tim Larsen/Handout
(Tim Larsen/New Jersey Governor’s Office via Reuters)

We’re talking 2016 in the PostScript bunker today, but not merely because we love predicting and arguing either-or questions.  It’s because if, as Dana Milbank suggests today, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is going to save the GOP, he’s going to have to start last October.  

Milbank looks at polling indicating that the no-quarter-allowed tea party is super unpopular, while Chris Christie is super popular.  Moderation and balking at one’s party leadership are so hot right now. The current Republican Party leadership, exemplified by the tea-infused House, would do well to notice how much more popular is the guy who can hold hands with Democrats and ask for big federal money than they are when they refuse to do those things.  

Christie is governing a very blue state that needs a lot of money right now, very fast. His suddenly liberal leanings might not accompany him to the 2016 primaries. But what this argument implies is that for the Republican Party to be saved, it needs to compromise with liberals and appeal more to liberals. Nominate a candidate whom some liberals would support over the Democrat.

In order to reap the political benefits of standing up to his party, Christie has to stand against his party.

Commenters do not think this will go over well.  

Stella Guluchi

Can Chris Christie rescue the GOP? Are you kidding? Look at the relentless attacks on Senator Chuck Hagel for the sin he committed when he failed to toe the party line. The GOP is not willing to change … [and is] now gearing up for a fight over raising the debt ceiling because of their apparent “leverage”.

Buddydog

The endorsement of someone outside of the Tea Party is the kiss of death for Christie. Today’s GOP doesn’t want to be “rescued,” they want to push for their very narrow and unpopular ideology on their own terms, without having to argue their case, without compromising, and without having to make politically unpopular decisions. Sure, the rest of us know that’s a recipe for disaster, but they don’t. So don’t worry about rescuing the GOP. They don’t think they need it.

brad_triple9

Dole, McCain, Romney, Christie.  How about a conservative?

blbixler

Chris Christie could go a long way toward rescuing the GOP. The question is should he try. It is doubtful he could make it through the GOP primary system as it exists. And given that the extremist takeover has been cemented by gerrymandering, it is unlikely that he would ever get enough support from the House. His better option is to run as a centrist independent, then work with moderates (who will be primarily Democrats) if he gets elected. The GOP can only save itself by initiating a massive purge that rises from the fed-up members. No one politician can make it happen.

mikesba

Neither the Southern nor hard core Midwestern states will support a moderate for the GOP nomination. The hard core conservatives want their party back.

Other commenters, seemingly the liberals/moderates Christie would have to attract, have reasons they wouldn’t vote for him:

kalmialatifolia

An obese person may have a lesser chance. It would be nice if our elected officials are healthy so we they can serve us longer.

MNUSA

There are too many videos of Christie losing his temper at a constituent that disagreed with him.

But others take these supposed flaws in stride:

lookahead

You vastly underestimate Big Chris. His weight will not be a deterrent to his election. That is foolish conventional wisdom, like we’ll never have as president: a bald person (still true in modern times); a black person; a woman person; an actor person; a peanut farmer person; a Nixon person.

kimrit

Maybe [the perceived anger] is a good thing. Obama has been overly polite to the Congressional stooges — Christie could knock a few heads together over there. He already has learned the most important lesson in governing, that politics should be secondary to doing the people’s business. He made the rest of the GOP look meanspirited and scrooge-like when they criticized him for working with the President and for failing to pass hurricane relief in a timely manner.

 A lot of people are easily persuaded by a big guy who yells. When was our last pudgy, thundering President? Teddy Roosevelt? Yeah. Times have changed. Teddy finally won.  He can win again. (Untimely sports reference brought to you by PostScript’s attempts to appeal to moderates.)