Thursday, June 16, 2011

All Aboard the Presidential Express

The Republican candidate debate in New Hampshire this week was a serious event.

Let’s understand what it means. It does not mean that Mitt Romney is going to be the Republican candidate for president.

Many Republicans are still frightened that Romney is too enthralled by the conventional wisdom, on matters like climate change and individual health insurance mandates. More than a few suspect that he would want to put David Souter back on the Supreme Court.

The debate was an all-aboard signal. It meant that the train is leaving the station and that anyone who wants to get on board had best do it soon. Once the train leaves the station and picks up cruising steam, you cannot jump on.

By all indications this means that New Jersey Governor Chris Christie is about to miss his opportunity. Not just for now, but forever.

Christie had his opportunity, and he has turned his back on it. If you don’t seize an opportunity when it presents itself, people will think less of you. They are going to think that you put your personal feelings ahead of public service. You should not expect the same opportunity to present itself again.

As the Greek philosopher Heraclitus once said: You can’t jump in the same river twice.

By all appearances, Texas Governor Rick Perry is about to board the train. Daniel Henninger gives credit to Perry’s wife, Anita. Link here.

Clearly, the story line stands in stark contrast to the one that Indiana governor Mitch Daniels spun when he declined to enter the race because his wife had exercised her veto.

Henninger explains it well, and sketches a lesson in leadership: “My guess is he's in. Why? He got clearance from what obviously has become the second-most powerful force in American politics—a candidate's wife. In the governor's telling, his wife, Anita, sat him down and said this was no ordinary presidential election for the country. Rick, you've gotta run.

“She's right about the race. There may be lots of reasons not to put oneself through the modern presidential gauntlet, but not this time. Four more years of below-average economic growth and above-trend unemployment and it'll take a generation for the U.S. to climb out. The betting here is that Anita Perry wins this argument. They usually do.”

As I’ve been saying, Chris Christie is wrong to consider his readiness the critical issue. You step up when you are needed and when the situation requires it, not when you think you are ready.  

If Christie does not have it in him to answer the call, then perhaps we are better off with someone else. More so when that someone else has an excellent long-term record of effective governance and job creation.


CatherineM said...

I disagree. He made a commitment to NJ. I think he's terrific, but if he doesn't want to run now as he would rather fulfill his commitment, I think that is honorable (especially in this day and age). Also, we would get the "didn't even commit to a whole term," from Dems too.

Stuart Schneiderman said...

I agree that Christie has done a great job. I also agree that he set the standard for Republican governors, thereby exercising great leadership qualities.

If he had merely said that he wanted to fulfill his commitment to New Jersey that would be one thing. As it happens, he has always said that he did not feel ready. I was responding to his stated reason.

Robert Pearson said...

I agree with you on Romney--I woke up the morning after the debate and it popped into my mind: "Romeny is going to be the nominee." Must have been percolating during sleep.