Sunday, February 28, 2016

Trump-Christie Agonistes

This is what happens when a political party is in the midst of self-destruction. I remember it well when the Democrats dissolved between 1972 and 1984, and these last, frantic days should remind us that it's not pretty or helpful when a major political organization goes nuclear.

Such is the Republican Party.

I have been saying, for quite some time, that I didn't believe that Donald Trump will be the GOP nominee this year, and I will cling to that belief until the numbers say that I'm wrong, but it's fairly clear that ego, infighting, stubbornness and incompetence have put Trump on the brink of attaining that prize. For once, though, I don't fully blame the Republican Party as much as I also blame the voters it nurtured and the utter disdain and hatred they have for President Obama and government in general.

There are still some Republican leaders who do understand what their actions have wrought, such as former NJ Governor Christine Todd Whitman, who says that she will support Hillary for president, even as they are now seeing that saying ultraconservative things, but governing less so, has gotten them into a pot of boiling water they can't climb out of easily.

The debate last week was bad enough; a WWE-type smackdown that had little to do with politics and everything to do with the stunted maturity of the party's front-runner and the anger of the intellectual dwarfs who want to take him down. The candidates discussed precious little about what they would do as president, which in all cases would be a disaster for the middle class, women, minorities, anyone whose sexuality differs from the norm, potentially productive immigrants and most animal species, and focused on bodily functions and who might have lied the most. They then continued the fight through the week, referring to bathroom habits and other national security issues they believe are the keys to their success.

And then came the angriest, most-inappropriate, venom-spewing know-nothing of them all: Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey, who is so terrifically angry that the GOP decided to support Marco Rubio over him as the party's savior that he threw away what was left of his dignity, common-sense and governing doctrine. Christie will have to spend most of his time walking back comments he made during the campaign about how unqualified his new friend Don is to be president.

Christie has clearly had it with the Republican Party, and in his mind he has good reason. After all, he spent years cultivating supporters by giving time and speeches to candidates when they were running for office. Then, as Chairman of the Republican Governor's Association he threw himself  into party politics, doled out resources and, again, spent many months on the campaign trail, biding his time until the 2016 election, when he would gather up his favors and chits and be the instant front-runner for the presidency. The GW Bridge traffic jam destroyed his credibility and his actions on the campaign trail, including his torching of Marco Rubio in the debate just before the New Hampshire primary, proved to be not only his undoing, but the cause of his own political self-immolation.

And now Chris doesn't have to spend more time in New Jersey being Governor, which I'm certain is one of his main reasons for making this endorsement. Christie is essentially over state politics and craves the national limelight and cable television programs. It's Kim Guagdano's gig now, but the Democrats have the power. Christie is fast becoming irrelevant on the state level.

Also, he probably sees Trump as the only candidate who would give him a job if (shudder) he wins the presidency. Does Christie on the Supreme Court grab your attention? It should.

Let's see what happens on March 1, Super Tuesday, and in the big states that hold primaries between then and March 15. Trump is not likely to gather enough delegates to win the nomination and if Rubio can consistently get 20% or more in each state, he can stay close until April, when more big states will vote. Also, John Kasich will probably be out of the race very soon.

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