Home/Daniel Larison/The Knives Come Out for Christie

The Knives Come Out for Christie

Doug Mataconis comments on how movement conservative activists are bringing out the knives for Chris Christie:

No, a scapegoat must be found and, at least in this initial 24 hours after Election Night, that scapegoat appears to be the Governor of New Jersey.

As I was saying earlier on Twitter, this is a depressingly predictable reaction. I’m hardly what anyone would call a Christie fan, and I frequently cast doubt on the argument that he could or should have been a presidential candidate, but I don’t buy the claim that his statements in the aftermath of the hurricane had any significant effect on the election’s outcome. If all that it took to undermine Romney’s election effort was a few words from Christie, there was never much chance that it was going to succeed anyway.

For various reasons, conservative activists and pundits chose to elevate Christie into a national figure because they liked his combativeness and his willingness to challenge some of their ideological opponents, but their enthusiasm for him was bound to be ephemeral. The political incentives for a Northeastern Republican governor and those of an ideological conservative movement will often diverge. If it hadn’t been Christie’s statements last week that turned many movement conservatives against him, it would have been something else later.

It’s a reminder that it was never Christie that these activists liked. What these activists liked was the reliable partisanship that he seemed to practice. When he didn’t act the part of the angry partisan that they were used to seeing, and instead acted as a self-interested politician and responsible state official would, they no longer had any use for him. The fact that he had been considered an effective surrogate for Romney over the last several months is quickly forgotten, and all that remains is the idea that Christie “betrayed” the cause by doing something that any other official in his position would have done.

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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