Run baby, run!
There isn't a Republican activist or pundit who hasn't done it. Some are fixated on it. The "it" is running through the roster of potential presidential candidates, hoping to find one that jumps out and excites. The actual list of candidates is small, so that soon devolves into a mental tour of the U.S., ruminating about the new senator from New Hampshire (a woman, right?), the Ohio governor (always liked him in Congress!) and others who have expressed zero interest in running. But before long it comes down to a longing that a genuine, well-known talent would run. On that list are New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, Rep. Paul Ryan (R-Wisc.) and Florida's former governor, Jeb Bush.
Each utterance or non-utterance by one of these three is examined like a precious gem, turned over and squinted at. Maybe "no," is no in the Bill Clinton sense ("I am not running NOW for president.") And, after all, it's only March. There are months and months before the Iowa caucuses, and who really cares about them?
So when Christie in an interview with National Review sounds like a guy playing hard to get, rather than someone who has sworn off the 2012 campaign, Republican hearts flutter:
I just see how much better I get at this job every day, and I do, and I learn things. If not every day, at least every week. And my wife and I were actually talking about this last night. We had dinner together with the family after the [New Jersey budget] speech and she was saying how much better she thought I was yesterday than I had been before in my speech. She said, "You are getting better."
That's just the nature of life. So, I see the opportunity, I recognize and understand it and I'm really flattered that people think of me that way. But, if I don't believe it in here [pointing to his heart], I'm not going to be a good candidate on top of everything else.
Aw, governor, believe! The poor man just needs some self-confidence, you see. It's easy, at least for panicked Republicans, to see how Christie's diffidence transforms into an epiphany that all those people are right -- he is ready! And, really, for a guy supposedly not running for the presidency, why is he talking at the American Enterprise Institute and the Hoover Institute (the latter behind closed doors)?
From time to time, as Ben Smith of Politico pointed out, conservatives get fed up. Obama is dithering on the world stage and piling up the debt, and they are saying they'd rather not run!
Part of this is plainly sheer desperation. The prospect of four more years of Obama chills conservatives, and at this stage Republicans have a nagging fear that none of the current crop can dislodge him. But that doesn't mean the frustration isn't legitimate. After all, isn't a leader supposed to grab the moment, especially when the country's welfare is at stake?
Well, it really is early in the game. Should either Christie or Ryan change his mind, I have no doubt the whooshing sound of money, interest and staff flying in his direction would be deafening. But for now the GOP field is what it is. Unless of course. . . there's Bobby Jindal! I mean, who remembers that dreadful response to the State of the Union in the Tara-like mansion? Oh, yes, well . . . but doesn't Oklahoma have a new woman governor?
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