Remember when our late friend Rush Limbaugh used to joke to his audience that he read books and articles by liberals so we wouldn’t have to? Well, in anticipation of tomorrow night’s first Republican debate we’ve taken up Rush’s mantle to read Chris Christie’s book “Republican Rescue” so you wouldn’t have to.
At the risk of killing the rest of the article, here’s the short summary: To rescue the Republican Party from Donald Trump and his supporters Republicans should become Democrats – or at least abandon the anti-elitist spirit that powered the GOP through the 1994, 2010 and 2016 wave elections.
But on to how the book might be relevant to tomorrow night’s debate.
One of the more interesting aspects of the book is how much of it Christie spends puffing his association with former President Donald Trump, while at the same time trashing Trump’s MAGA agenda, other insiders and supporters.
The Trump years aren’t the first time the Republican Party and its leaders have been beset by hucksters, con men, and extremists, peddling ridiculous conspiracy theories and playing to people’s worst impulses, threatening to drive the party’s core principles right off the deep end.
Christie went on in a lengthy screed to compare the MAGA Movement to the John Birch Society and call for the ouster of some of President Trump’s strongest supporters in the same way that John Birch Society founder Robert Welch was frozen out of Republican politics in the 1960s.
The problem for Christie is that while Mr. Welch’s criticism of President Eisenhower as a “dedicated, conscious agent of the Communist conspiracy” was over the top, he wasn’t wrong about the breadth and depth of Communist penetration of American institutions and government. See the great M. Stanton Evans’ “Blacklisted by History” for the proof.
Then there was this characterization of the Trump movement:
It wasn’t quite conservative. It certainly wasn’t liberal. It occupied a netherworld all its own. It was hospitable to all manner of conspiracies, some so far-fetched they were hard to repeat. That’s how disconnected they were from evidence or fact. But these extremist concoctions were growing in popularity inside some parts of my party. First, at its fringes but slowly inching toward the middle.
So, according to Chris Christie, if you believe there might be something to the “great replacement theory,” if you see the World Economic Forum as a threat to American sovereignty and if you think the evidence is that COVID-19 was engineered in a Red Chinese bioweapons lab, you’re a nut who has no place in American politics.
There’s more – tarring Trump supporters, such as Marjorie Taylor Greene, and Donald Trump himself, with the QAnon conspiracy brush, but the real icing on the cake is Chris Christie’s prescription for winning again.
That’s where the “be more like Democrats” nostrum comes in, here’s just one example:
As a Republican governor, I agreed to a more rational system for deciding which defendants were held on bail… it made no sense to turn our jails into debtors’ prisons, holding non-violent defendants just because they couldn’t make five-hundred-dollar bail.
No cash bail has worked so well in New York, San Francisco, and Chicago; Chris Christie thinks we should try it nationwide.
But the policy ideas in Chris Christie’s book are not the worst part of the book, which to be fair, could have been written by any establishment Republican running for federal office in the Bush-era.
The old establishment Republican playbook misses the whole point of the Trump movement, which is part policy, but more importantly one of maintaining a fighting attitude on every issue.
The worst part – and where he deviates most seriously from the MAGA Movement – is Christie’s naïve assumption that merely having better ideas and policies than the Democrats will bring victory.
“It’s a truism of politics that you can’t beat something with nothing. That’s true about candidates, and it’s true about the ideas that candidates discuss. Many of us, we look at what Joe Biden and the Democrats are trying to do in office and think, purely on the merits, that they should lose because their ideas are so awful. In my experience, that’s not the way politics works. The way politics works is that your opponents may have bad ideas. But when they’re in charge, you can unseat them only if the ideas you present are better than the ones they’re pushing on voters.”
This is what our friend Morton Blackwell, founder and President of the Leadership Institute, called the Sir Galahad Theory of Politics – I will win because I’m self-evidently right.
Americans had never had it so good as they did on New Year’s Day 2020, so if that theory is correct, Trump should have won in a landslide, unless there were other factors at work, something Chris Christie dismisses as conspiracy theories. If there’s anything that the past seven years have taught conservatives it is that being right isn’t enough, and that recognizing that Democrats will do anything to gain and keep power isn’t a conspiracy theory or a lack of “decency,” it’s a fact.
Tomorrow night, look for Chris Christie to dismiss questions and criticism of the way the 2020 election was run as “extremist conspiracy theories,” and to recycle all the old policies that were the hallmarks of the John Boehner – Paul Ryan era of GOP failure, but to do so with “decency.”
great replacement theory
no cash bail