The cliché: Tuesday morning, Ian Millhiser at Think Progress wrote, "Texas Gov. Rick Perry (R) was supposed to be the Tea Party’s messiah," but after he took too many liberal positions, "leading conservatives spent most of yesterday proclaiming their new savior: New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie. Before the GOP anoints Christie as their new Chosen One, however, they might want to take a moment to consider..." That afternoon, Dave Weigel at Slate titled a post, "Christie Our Savior: Why this week's Republican messiah is no better than last week's." Hours later, Michael Tomasky's Daily Beast column went online with the headline, "Christie's no messiah." All of these writers aptly note that Republicans have been jumping from undeclared dream candidate to candidate for much of this campaign season. But they've packaged it with some subtle mocking as a futile search for the Messiah.
Where it's from: It echoes the McCain campaign's criticism that Obama fancied himself a messiah. (The argument was that he took himself too seriously and that people like Oprah were calling him "the one.") Messiah is, by the way, from the Greek/Hebrew for "anointed one" referring to the prophesied savior of the Jewish people (For Christians: that's Jesus. For Jews: TBD.) It was a nickname that has stuck throughout Obama's presidency. Before Obama's candidacy though, the left was already derisively referring to President Reagan as the Republican messiah. There's been a lot of (dare-we-say-Messianic) invoking of Reagan during this GOP campaign so while the "search for a Republican messiah" bit is most immediately a reference to the Obama-as-Messiah narrative of '08, it could also be a quick hat-tip to the Gipper.