As Rick Perry Stumbles, Rightbloggers Run To (Non-Candidate) Chris Christie
Why? Because he gets to run against the nominee of the Republican Party, which seems hellbent on throwing the election.
In the GOP's latest slapstick routine, putative front-runner Rick Perry has so embarrassed himself that nervous rightbloggers have suddenly revived their dormant romance with New Jersey Governor (and non-candidate) Chris Christie.
For weeks now the kids have been smitten with Rick Perry -- so butch! So willing to kill! -- but his GOP debate performances, in which he resembled a malfunctioning George W. Bush robot, made a bunch of them nervous.
Not that they didn't have doubts to begin with. For one thing, as Governor of Texas Perry tried to vaccinate girls against HPV, which made Michele Bachmann mad at the Tea Party debate a few weeks back, along with a lot of rightbloggers. "Rick Perry's Bad Medicine," cried Michelle Malkin. "Would A Real Conservative Attempt To Forcibly Vaccinate 12 Year Old Girls For A Sexually Transmitted Disease?" asked Conservative Central.
Never mind that HPV is a precursor to cervical cancer -- in the Jesus People's imaginations, vaccination against HPV encourages children to have sex (or, as they call it in the Bible Belt, pre-abortion). This may be why Bruce McQuain told his readers that HPV is a "non-communicable disease." If you have intercourse, it's like you're asking for it!
Perry tied the vaccinations to his "pro-life" beliefs, but National Review's Jonah Goldberg still smelled statism. "It takes some pretty circuitous reasoning to get there," said Goldberg, "and in the process you've conceded the case for pretty much every other kind of health-care intervention by the state up to and including Obamacare." My God, Obamacare -- that's worse than sex!
Also, as Governor of an actual border state, Perry has been obliged to go easy on the Mexican illegals who comprise a large part of his alleged Texas economic miracle; this disturbs anti-illegal-immigrant, and anti-Mexican, Republicans.
Still, Perry fans tried to keep the Lone Star standard aloft. "The short answer is Rick Perry won [the Tea Party debate], but only by default," said Erick Erickson of RedState and CNN. "He had a stellar one hour and fifteen minutes until the full on conservative assault against his HPV decision and immigration decision began.... He locked in his lead, I think."
More to the point, said Erickson, "this is the first debate this election cycle where Mitt Romney did not win." Eyes on the prize!
But there was another GOP debate last week, and there Perry looked so out of it that even many of his rightwing fans couldn't defend him ("Critics used the words 'only occasionally coherent' and 'failure' to describe his speaking"). Even Erickson admitted, "Rick Perry stands on the precipice. He is about to fall off... another performance like last night could push him off the edge..."
Weasel Zippers tried to put as good a face on it as they could: "After getting crushed in a debate by a duplicitous two-faced double-speaking Obama-like RINO," they lengthily headlined, "Rick Perry deftly changes the subject: 'It's not who is the slickest candidate or the smoothest debater that we need to elect.'" But they felt compelled to add, "How do you rehab the proverbial deer stuck in the headlights who is subsequently flattened by the 18 wheeler?"
Things got so bad Herman Cain won a straw poll in Florida. "Excellent news for Cain, who generally shone in Thursday's debate," said RedState's Moe Lane. Once again Herman Cain is the next President of the United States! Well, not really -- but it's not looking so great for Perry either.
Then Christie's name reentered the conversation, and they began to perk up.
As we have seen throughout the GOP 2012 race, rightbloggers have been subject to sudden enthusiasms in their choice of champions, from Donald Trump to Mitch Daniels to Herman Cain to Paul Ryan to Michele Bachmann.
Enter, or rather re-enter, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie. The fat, belligerent Christie has been a rightblogger fave since his 2009 election, and claims that he will be "drafted to run for president" and that Obama is secretly "digging up dirt on potential opponent Chris Christie" have circulated in the rightwing press like Chick Tracts in bus depots and public toilets.
The latest Christie boomlet has been fueled by reports in two unimpeachable news sources: NewsMax and the New York Post.
"Several leading Republican donors and fundraisers have been urging the popular Republican governor to reconsider his decision not to run," claimed NewsMax, leading to a "hush-hush powwow," after which "a source familiar with the meeting suggested that Christie seemed inclined to enter the race but said he needed more time."
NewsMax's source said Christie would decide in two weeks, while the Post's said "he'll decide this week," which the Murdoch paper described as a "surprising flip-flop." NewsMax duly reported the Post's reporting.
"Christie Could Do It," headlined the Fox Nation blog, which repurposed both stories. NewsMax also noticed that unsuccessful California Governor candidate Meg Whitman was hosting a fundraiser for "a fellow Republican many in the party would like to aim higher than the statehouse in Trenton..." At Politico, Maggie Haberman added that "two GOP sources tell me what NewsMax and the New York Post are reporting..."
That's how the media sausage gets made, folks! Soon the headline across the internet became "N.J. Gov. Chris Christie Says 'I'm Not Running,' But Skeptics Abound" -- an interesting redefinition of skepticism.
Some found significance in the fact that, at a forum with former candidate Mitch Daniels, Christie briefly mentioned that he'd been asked to run for President ("you continue to hear people ask Daniels if he'll reconsider and ask me if I'll reconsider").
That people think you could be President is a good thing to brag on regardless of your Presidential intent, but hardly a tip-off. Rudy Giuliani's comments earlier this month ("I look at the people running and I look at the people in the office and I say I have my strengths and weaknesses, but I at least measure up to all of them and maybe I have a few more strengths") were at least as leading as Christie's, but nobody has started putting up campaign posters for him.
Why Christie and not Giuliani? Christie has a fantasy-camp advantage: 10 years after 9/11, conservatives are less interested in a candidate who stood up to terrorists (Obama killed Bin Laden, so how good can anti-terrorism be?), and more interested in one who stands up to America's real enemies -- namely, unions. Christie's colorful public assaults on labor have made him a big man on the conservative campus.
For example, neo-neocon, while admitting that the new rumors were "much like the old rumors" and "Christie won't run," nonetheless devoted most of her column to praising the Governor for his "straight-shooting hard-hitting persona, full of humor, wit, intelligence, cojones, common sense, and the ability to speak extemporaneously with flair and brilliance..." In other words, great with insults!
"What a splash Christie would make if he did decide to run," said Scared Monkeys, conjuring an unfortunate image of the 583-pound Governor doing an Cannonball off a high-dive board. "Perry's position on illegal immigration is a disaster and he has been underwhelming in the debates," SM continued, without referring to their own previous Perry boosterism ("Perry's campaign has legs and the polling data supports it" -- September 12), whereas Christie "would never be at a loss for words and would never beat around the bush."
"He's taken on the powerful public employee unions and won," enthused Chris Wysocki. "His no-nonsense speaking style would wipe the floor with Obama in a debate." Most importantly, "He's a whole lot better than Mitt Romney would be."
"He is the not only the person who can turn this economy around, he's also the guy who can win going away," claimed Verum Serum. VS didn't say how Christie would turn the economy around -- tough talk, we suppose -- but assured readers that Christie "can talk for an hour without a teleprompter" (ha ha, teleprompter!) and would "trounce Obama in the debates with both substance and humor."
In a bizarre, Peggy-Noonanesque turn, The Washington Post's Jennifer Rubin fantasized Christie sitting in front of his TV and yelling at the last GOP debate in strangely rendered Jersey argot. (Sample: "You throw Obama out, you keep taxes low, you stare down the Dems on entitlements and get out of the face of businesses." It's like Tony Soprano worked for the Club for Growth and had a stroke.) The only candidate Rubin imagined Christie approving was the Jesus-drenched, gay-hating Rick Santorum: "I feel for you, my friend," she had Christie sighing. "They never listen to the guy making sense."
The bigbrains at RedState were torn. "Chris Christie has no record," said tomjefferson, "...and more important Chris Christie comes off as an arrogant fat a**. I mean you know again I'm not a Christie hater..." "Thank God!" cheered Whec. "All the rest never really had a chance anyway and still don't... Governor Christie is not a politician. He is more like a Truman type personality," etc.
Some actually thought Christie was too liberal to be the nominee. Christie "believes in global warming, he's questionable on guns, he seems to support comprehensive immigration reform, he backed Castle over O'Donnell (RINO!), etc," said Allahpundit at Hot Air. "He's a bit to the left of most of the current candidates," sniffed The Lonely Conservative. "It sounds like this is more of a push by east and west coast Republicans, otherwise known as RINOs..." "NOOOOOOOO!" howled Climate Depot. "NJ Warmist Gov. Chris Christie is 'reconsidering...'"
The whole thing got so ridiculous that Jonathan S. Tobin at Commentary suggested that "Christie May Help Rather Than Hurt Perry... Dragging Christie into the race may have the opposite effect of what his backers want," Tobin claimed, "because it would only make it even more certain it will be Rick Perry who ascends the podium next year at the Republican convention in Tampa to accept the nomination."
What? you may ask. True, Tobin admitted, Perry has his faults: he's "not sophisticated," he's "said and written some over the top things," he's "too religious," and his foreign policy positions "are something of an improvisation." But what does any of that have to do with being President?
Also, if Christie got in, "it would only split the centrist and moderate Republican vote," said Tobin, and "merely siphon votes away from Romney and ensure Perry would have an even easier path to the nomination than currently envisioned."
Bear in mind, Christie has repeatedly said he isn't running, yet a commentator at a major conservative publication found it necessary to explain why the non-existent Christie campaign is good news for Rick Perry.
This has been the state of the GOP Presidential race: every few months, a rush toward a savior. But so far none of them has been sufficiently galvanic that the possibility of a new savior can't get people excited.
No wonder Obama, dismal as his record has been, seems undisturbed. If things don't improve, anyone could beat him and it's no use worrying. But if he has any chance at all, the Republicans seem determined to amplify it.
Oh, and don't worry -- the fun is just beginning. "Would now be a primetime for Sarah Palin to declare - if she's going to?" asked Sister Toldjah. "...if there's one thing I know she's good at more than anyone else it is zeroing in on her opponent's flaws like a laser beam and not letting go. We saw that in the debate she had with Joe Biden in 2008..." And we all know how well that turned out. Keep hope alive!
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