There are new reports that Christie really is reconsidering his decision to stay out of the 2012 race. Some new polls this week have been asking whether Christie should run, and the results are a good indicator of how little popular interest there is in his entry into the race. Rasmussen asked the question, and found that just 20% say yes. 37% say no, and that includes 25% of Republicans and 34% of independents. Even more Republicans are unsure (43%) whether he should run, which hardly sounds like encouragement from the voters. Conservatives are split over a Christie run (29% no, 27% yes), and many more moderates (34%) are opposed than in favor (17%). Roughly one-third of Republicans nationwide favor a Christie run, which is something, but that doesn’t mean that Christie would have that much support in the primaries. According to the new SurveyUSA Florida poll, Republican voters in that state are much more emphatic in their opposition to a Christie run: 51% say that he shouldn’t enter the race, and just 25% want him to jump in.
Whatever Christie finally decides over the weekend, the effort to drag him into the race is another instance of a more significant problem that the GOP has in promoting its rising political leaders too quickly. For whatever reason, party leaders seem unwilling to wait and let their new talents gain experience and build up significant records before pushing them into the national spotlight when they are usually not ready. Christie has far less governing experience than four of the declared candidates and arguably less managerial experience than five of them, and he has had little to say about foreign policy despite the fact that half of his recent speech was on that subject. Once we get past the superficial tough-guy theatrics, why exactly is anyone clamoring for Christie?
Rich Lowry noted that Christie would “have a steep learning curve on foreign policy, where his Reagan address was weak.” Consider Christie’s confidence in the wonder-working powers of democracy:
For example, a Middle East that is largely democratic and at peace will be a Middle East that accepts Israel, rejects terrorism, and is a dependable source of energy.
If I didn’t know when Christie said this, I would have assumed that it was some of the silly, ideologically-inspired rhetoric that we heard so often eight and nine years ago. To the extent that governments in the region become more accountable to their people, all indications over the last decade are that those governments will be much more critical of Israel than the governments that preceded them. A democratic government might or might not reject terrorism. It depends on the terrorism in question. Once a democratic government is established in a certain country, there would presumably be an alternative to political violence at home, but that doesn’t mean that the government would not be willing to support terrorists in other countries. If there were some advantage in lending support to insurgents in a neighboring country, there is nothing inherent about democratically-elected governments that makes them hostile to terrorism. Democratization is no guarantee of securing a reliable energy supply. Indeed, more democratic governments might drive harder bargains with oil companies to satisfy newly empowered constituencies and to appeal to local nationalist sentiments. Christie spoke about all of this as if there are no trade-offs and no choices to be made between competing priorities. We really have to stop pretending that democratization reinforces all other current U.S. policy goals. The real weakness of Christie’s foreign policy remarks is that he has clearly not thought these things through, and he is doing little more than reciting lines that he thinks will be acceptable to a Republican audience.