The Greatness of Chris Christie


... for having decided, as our National Journal colleagues are reporting just now, not to plunge into the 2012 GOP presidential race. If he entered now he would be late, way behind on organization-building and money-raising, and exposed all at once, with no build-up or practice time, to nonstop press and oppo scrutiny on a range of issues that mere governors can ignore. (For instance: Rick Perry's floundering when asked at a debate how he would handle a Pakistani loose-nukes problem. A governor doesn't need an answer to that question; a presidential candidate does.) I can imagine that Jon Huntsman is rethinking the wisdom of having entered the race this year. It would be amazing if Perry were not having similar thoughts. Chris Christie will not regret choosing to spare himself the grief this time. Star-Ledger photo from the 2009 race, below.


Who knows what combination of factors convinced him. But among them must have been the knowledge that starting the very day he became a candidate, news coverage and general buzz would switch from all the assets he would bring to a race, as the highly sought-after savior-candidate, to all the defects, heresies, and vulnerabilities he has relative to other contenders and as a potential Commander in Chief. If he had any trouble imagining that in theory, he has the past two months of Rick Perry's life as an object lesson.

As I tried to argue a week ago, barring asteroid strike or its political counterpart, the Republican field is in fact set, and Mitt Romney plods steadily ahead. Things change in politics, but at this stage in a race they don't change via the appearance of out-of-the-blue plausible new entries. Romney, Perry, Cain, et al: it's up to you.

Presented by

James Fallows is a national correspondent for The Atlantic and has written for the magazine since the late 1970s. He has reported extensively from outside the United States and once worked as President Carter's chief speechwriter. His latest book is China Airborne. More

James Fallows is based in Washington as a national correspondent for The Atlantic. He has worked for the magazine for nearly 30 years and in that time has also lived in Seattle, Berkeley, Austin, Tokyo, Kuala Lumpur, Shanghai, and Beijing. He was raised in Redlands, California, received his undergraduate degree in American history and literature from Harvard, and received a graduate degree in economics from Oxford as a Rhodes scholar. In addition to working for The Atlantic, he has spent two years as chief White House speechwriter for Jimmy Carter, two years as the editor of US News & World Report, and six months as a program designer at Microsoft. He is an instrument-rated private pilot. He is also now the chair in U.S. media at the U.S. Studies Centre at the University of Sydney, in Australia.

Fallows has been a finalist for the National Magazine Award five times and has won once; he has also won the American Book Award for nonfiction and a N.Y. Emmy award for the documentary series Doing Business in China. He was the founding chairman of the New America Foundation. His recent books Blind Into Baghdad (2006) and Postcards From Tomorrow Square (2009) are based on his writings for The Atlantic. His latest book is China Airborne. He is married to Deborah Fallows, author of the recent book Dreaming in Chinese. They have two married sons.

Fallows welcomes and frequently quotes from reader mail sent via the "Email" button below. Unless you specify otherwise, we consider any incoming mail available for possible quotation -- but not with the sender's real name unless you explicitly state that it may be used. If you are wondering why Fallows does not use a "Comments" field below his posts, please see previous explanations here and here.
Get Today's Top Stories in Your Inbox (preview)

The Time JFK Called the Air Force to Complain About a 'Silly Bastard'

51 years ago, President John F. Kennedy made a very angry phone call.

Elsewhere on the web


Adventures in Legal Weed

Colorado is now well into its first year as the first state to legalize recreational marijuana. How's it going? James Hamblin visits Aspen.


What Makes a Story Great?

The storytellers behind House of CardsandThis American Life reflect on the creative process.


Tracing Sriracha's Origin to Thailand

Ever wonder how the wildly popular hot sauce got its name? It all started in Si Racha.


Where Confiscated Wildlife Ends Up

A government facility outside of Denver houses more than a million products of the illegal wildlife trade, from tigers and bears to bald eagles.


Is Wine Healthy?

James Hamblin prepares to impress his date with knowledge about the health benefits of wine.


The World's Largest Balloon Festival

Nine days, more than 700 balloons, and a whole lot of hot air



More in Politics

From This Author

Just In