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Christie’s Hawkish Pandering Keeps Backfiring

It seems that Chris Christie’s awful foreign policy speech earlier this week failed to satisfy some hard-liners that wanted him to be even more obsequious in his pandering. Christie neglected to refer to Israel in the speech:

“Sheldon was concerned about the ‘occupied territory’ remark and he expected Christie would make amends and would express support for Israel and it didn’t happen,” Klein reported. “Sheldon, like others, was as perplexed and shocked and mystified. Why did Christie do this? This was an insult.”

If this didn’t reflect how warped and unhealthy the foreign policy debate is in the GOP, it would be quite comical. Back in March, Christie did his best to convey his “pro-Israel” enthusiasm. However, he forgot to self-censor his speech and mentioned the occupation by mistake, and so all of his pandering was for naught. This week Christie delivered a speech that was as hostile to Obama and mindlessly interventionist as one could reasonably expect from a potential presidential candidate, but he still didn’t pass the hard-line donors’ test because he forgot to indulge in the correct ritual nods to a small client state. On top of that, we now have the spectacle of “pro-Israel” hawks declaring that Christie is “no friend of Israel” because he didn’t make his obvious pandering explicit enough. If the goal is to make it virtually impossible for most politicians to qualify for your support, I suppose this response makes some kind of sense, but “pro-Israel” hard-liners don’t have the luxury of writing off everyone who falls short of their maximalist views. Christie clearly wants to jump through their ridiculous ideological hoops, and he seems eager to win their support, but for whatever reason he is running into a remarkable amount of resistance for someone who is still supposed to be the favorite of party establishment donors. In spite of all the hawkish pandering he’s done, Christie seems farther away from winning support from major “pro-Israel” hawkish donors than he was when he started.

about the author

Daniel Larison is a senior editor at TAC, where he also keeps a solo blog. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, World Politics Review, Politico Magazine, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter.

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