The Greatness of Chris Christie

By James Fallows

... 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.

chris-christie-conigliojpg-97a0c33062fec066_large.jpg

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.

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/politics/archive/2011/10/the-greatness-of-chris-christie/246120/