In his speech at the Reagan Library, the outspoken New Jersey governor challenged his fellow conservatives on four vital points
Speeches delivered at the Reagan Library must praise President Reagan, zing Barack Obama, and assert the greatness of the United States. New Jersey Governor Chris Christie hit all those notes Tuesday night. But he also made four key assertions that are now heretical within the Republican Party, and the significance of his speech is almost entirely wrapped up in those passages of politely stated dissent.
1. Compromise is core to politics, a necessary characteristic of good leadership, and the only way to solve problems. This is anathema to a lot of the conservative movement, who regard compromise as tantamount to selling out principle, and support candidates like Michele Bachmann precisely because of their reputation for being stubbornly uncompromising.
2. American exceptionalism isn't a natural state of being or an inheritance -- it is something to which we aspire, and we're presently falling short. "For American exceptionalism to truly deliver hope and a sterling example to the rest of the world, it must be demonstrated, not just asserted," he said. "Unfortunately, through our own domestic political conduct of late, we have failed to live up to our own tradition of exceptionalism. Today, our role and ability to affect change has been diminished because of our own problems and our inability to effectively deal with them." Contrast that with Marco Rubio's recent speech at the Reagan Library, where American exceptionalism was cast as self-evident due to wars we'd won against Nazis and Communists, people we'd freed in decades past -- it was, Rubio said, "our legacy as a people."