Sunday, August 15, 2010

Why the GOP needs to Get Christie Love

I don't mean the old '70's TV show. I'm referring to the fact that the GOP needs a campaign strategy, and they could start by loving what New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is doing, and using that as a role model. Peggy Noonan nails it here:

Try a Little Tenderness
Chris Christie, not the Tea Party, is the model for the Republicans.
[...] For those candidates who are themselves Tea Party, and who identify more with a rebellion than an organization, some advice: Get conservative, quick. Which is another way of saying: Get serious. Conservatives are not fringe and haven’t been accused of being fringe since they got themselves a president, in 1980. He cared about reality, about the facts of the world, and bothered to know them. He bothered to think about them. He respected process, or rather respected the reality of it and learned to master it.

He also tried to put his arms around those who disagreed with him; he loved his foes into submission by showing regard for them. “Come walk with me,” he said, in 1984. And they did. And they got a new name, Reagan Democrats. Some of them wear it proudly, still. Here’s something that sounds corny but is true: Only love makes great political movements. Movements based on resentment, anger and public rage always fade, they rise and fall, they never stay. If you came to play, get serious.

Members of the Tea Party are not going to vote Democratic, and the Democrats have figured this out. Someone noted on cable the other day that only months ago many Democrats still hoped they might benefit to some degree from the Tea Party’s populist spirit, and attempted a certain tentative sympathy. True, but they did it like anthropologists discovering a new tribe in Borneo: “Come. No hurt. Be friend.” Now, seeing the Tea Party is not gettable or co-optable, the Democrats are attempting to demonize them, and use them to demonize the GOP.

Thus the new DNC scare ad, which features the usual “Jaws”-like monster music, and then the charge that the Tea Party and the GOP are “one and the same.” Not only that, they’re cooking up a plan to “get rid of” or privatize Social Security and Medicare, repeal the 17th Amendment, and abolish the departments of energy and education and the EPA.

Your average viewer will see this not as information but as theater, like Demon Sheep, and of course propaganda, though some will perk up at abolishing the agencies. But the ad signals a central Democratic argument for the fall, which The Atlantic’s Marc Ambinder summed up as “We may be incompetent, but they’re crazy.”

It’s a sign of Democratic panic that a week ago they were saying what was wrong with the GOP was they have no plan, while now what’s wrong is that they do have one.

The problem for the Democrats, however, is not a new Contract With America, or the Tea Party. Their problem is Chris Christie.

National Republicans don’t want to talk about specific cuts in spending for the obvious reason: The Obama administration is killing itself, and when your foe is self-destructing, you must not interrupt. Let the media go forward each day reporting the bad polls. Turn it into “Franco: still dead.” Don’t let the media turn it into a two-part story: “Obama is Struggling and The Republicans Will Cut Your Benefits.”

That is classic, smart political thinking, but wrong. The public thinks we’re sinking as a nation. They want to know someone has a plan to help. The most promising leader in that respect is Mr. Christie, the New Jersey governor, who just closed an $11 billion budget gap without raising taxes. He is famously blunt and doesn’t speak in those talking points that make you wonder, “Should I kill myself now with rude stabs to the chest, or should I just jump screaming from the window?”

On “Morning Joe” this week he said, “There were a lot of hard cuts and difficult things to do in there, but fact of the matter is we’re trying to treat people like adults. They know that we’re in awful shape, and they know that no one else is around anymore to pay for the problems that won’t hurt them.” [...]

Read the whole thing. It's not a rant against the tea party; far from it. It's about understanding politics, and letting the Tea Party be the supporting force that it is, to get common sense problem solvers like Chris Christie elected into office.

Rich Lowry also understands how important the "Christie" role model is:

Look Outside D.C. for Grown Up Government
[...] The sweep of Obama's ambition has necessarily forced congressional Republicans into a perpetual posture of "no," but they are reluctant to outline their own agenda of "yes." Out across the United States, a populist movement of great moment and promise wants to pull the country back to its constitutional moorings. Its favored candidates, though, are often shaky vessels, the likes of Rand Paul in Kentucky and Sharron Angle in Nevada, who are always one gaffe away from self-immolation.

For adults, look to the statehouses. Look in particular to New Jersey and Indiana, where Govs. Chris Christie and Mitch Daniels are forging a limited-government Republicanism that connects with people and solves problems. They are models of how to take inchoate dissatisfaction with the status quo, launder it through political talent, and apply it in a practical way to governance.

Christie has just concluded a six-month whirlwind through Trenton that should be studied by political scientists for years to come. In tackling a fiscal crisis in a state groaning under an $11 billion deficit, he did his fellow New Jerseyans the favor of being as forthright as a punch in the mouth. And it worked.

Christie traveled the state making the case for budgetary retrenchment, and he frontally took on the state's most powerful interest, the teachers' union. He rallied the public and split the Democrats, in a bravura performance in the lost art of persuasion. At the national level, George W. Bush thought repeating the same stalwart lines over and over again counted as making an argument, and Barack Obama has simply muscled through his agenda on inflated Democratic majorities. Christie actually connected.

He matched unyielding principle (determined to balance the budget without raising taxes, he vetoed a millionaires' tax within minutes of its passage) with a willingness to take half a loaf (he wanted a constitutional amendment to limit property taxes to 2.5 percent, but settled with Democrats for an imperfect statutory limit). He'll need an Act II to get deeper, institutional reforms, but New Jersey is now separating itself from those other notorious wastrels, California and Illinois. [...]

Read the whole thing. The article talks about Mitch Daniels, too. The more the merrier. It's going to take real adults who talk straight, talk the talk and walk the walk, not spend-thrifts with talking-points, who avoid town hall meetings and skirt around issues, to get us out of this mess. Christie, Daniels and those like them are showing us the way out. The GOP needs to be the party that supports the folks who are leading the way, who are DOING it.

No comments: