Chris Christie is love-bombing President Obama -- the man he labeled clueless just last week -- and Maureen Dowd is asking why:
White House officials seemed a bit flummoxed by Christie's bearhug. "It's unnerving," one laughed, noting how odd it is that a Romney big gun might help break the stubborn tie in the electorate in Obama's favor.
They speculate that Christie, who always puts Christie first, has decided that it's better for his presidential ambitions to be a maverick blue-state governor with a Democratic chief executive exiting in 2016 than to have President Romney and Tea-Party Republicans in Congress pulling him over to the extreme right for the next eight years. He also knows he'll need a boatload of federal cash to make his state whole again.
Here are three theories about Christie:
1) The first, most benign theory: Christie, in my experience, is a deeply emotional and highly sentimental man, and he is torn-up about the devastation along the Jersey Shore. The support he's received from President Obama -- the support he receives from anyone -- at such a wrenching moment, makes him inordinately grateful. And President Obama has been extremely attentive.
2) To add to Maureen's theory, Christie is an impatient guy, and the idea of running in 2016 is much more appealing to him than running in 2020. He will have faded from memory by 2020, in any case; plus Paul Ryan, who will have been vice president for four or eight years, would be a formidable challenger. For 2016, Christie is in the top-tier of Republican candidates. In 2020, who knows?
3) Chris Christie loves Bruce Springsteen. (This story, by yours truly, explains why.) Bruce Springsteen loves Barack Obama. Bruce Springsteen does not love Chris Christie. Being overtly supportive of Barack Obama might get Chris Christie his holy grail: The approval of Springsteen, even a meeting with him. Believe me -- he'd rather meet with Springsteen than with Obama, or anyone else.
For what it's worth, I think the explanation for Christie's effusiveness is mostly 1) with some 2). The third explanation might be true at a more subconscious level.