Chris Christie, Talking Republican
To the chagrin of Democratic politicians and pundits, New Jersey Governor Chris Christie seems so far to have emerged relatively unscathed from the media feeding frenzy over the George Washington Bridge traffic tie-up scandal, according to several new polls released this week.
Two polls early in the week "show the public has remained largely indifferent" to the bridge issue, according to Politico's Jose DelReal, and that finding was reinforced by two more recent polls.
The governor "fares favorably" in a new Quinnipiac poll of New Jersey voters, with a diminished but still solid 55 percent approval rating in the wake of the bridge fallout, as reported by Politico's Tal Kopan.
And a new national poll finds "good news for Christie," according to NBC News' Mark Murray, with an NBC News/Marist poll showing that "nearly 70 percent of Americans" say the bridge entrance lane-closure has not "changed their opinion" about the New Jersey governor.
With New Jersey Democrats doggedly pursuing the bridge scandal case, and more than a few pundits saying Christie's presidential aspirations are "finished," what is it about Chris Christie that enables him to at least momentarily shake off the piranhas and get his message out?
Columnist Thomas Sowell, writing at National Review, makes the argument for Christie the communicator:
The first time I saw New Jersey governor Chris Christie on television, a few years ago, my first reaction was astonishment: "A talking Republican!"
It would scarcely have been more astonishing if there had been a talking giraffe. For reasons unknown, most Republican leaders seem to pay very little attention to articulation - certainly as compared with leading Democrats, who seem to pay little attention to anything else.
Governor Christie's nearly two-hour-long press conference last week showed again that he is in a class by himself when it comes to Republicans who can express themselves in the heat of political battle.
While the media mocked Christie's press conference contention that "I am not a bully," voters seem to agree with the governor: both new polls show voters consider Christie as a "leader" rather than a "bully," by margins of 54-40 in the Quinnipiac New Jersey poll, and, as a "strong leader," by 47-27 in the NBC national poll.
Governor Christie himself has said "[t]here's nothing wrong with our principles... We need to win and govern with authority and courage."
Sowell amplifies the point:
But the bottom line in politics is that you have to get elected in order to have the power to accomplish anything. It doesn't matter how good your ideas are if you can't be bothered to articulate them in a way that the voting public can understand.
Whatever the political fate of Governor Christie, he has provided an example of the kind of articulation that is needed - indeed, imperative - if the Republicans are to have any chance of rescuing this country from the ruinous policies of the past few years.
It will be up to Governor Christie and any other Republican presidential candidate to demonstrate not only their commitment to conservative principles and constitutional government, but also their ability to cut through the media filter and effectively communicate their ideas to the broader American public.
Ronald Reagan did it, but no other Republican since has even come close.