Always the utterly hackish Republican Party operative, Peggy Noonan-- before becoming a Wall Street Journal columnist-- was best known as a Ronald Reagan speechwriter. The 2 Bushes inherited her also and she coined the deceitful phrases “a thousand points of light,” “a kinder, gentler nation” and “Read my lips: no new taxes” for Bush I— the latter probably responsible for ending his career. Yesterday she used her column to threaten Republican voters: “If Trump Republicans propel Trump over the top in the primaries, they will be doing and will have done two things. They will have made him their nominee for the presidency, and they will have ended the Republican Party. I don’t mean this rhetorically, in the way of people walking around the past eight years crying, “The party as I knew it is gone.” I mean it literally: The GOP will disappear as a party. Meaning the primary national vehicle of conservative thought and policy will disappear… [A] third Trump nomination? The third time it breaks. Put another way, once is what you did (made a mistake, as people and parties do). Twice is what you did (almost out of loyalty to the first mistake). But a third time—that isn’t what you did, it’s who you are.”
If the party chooses Trump in 2024 it will mean it has changed its essential nature and meaning, and that it is split in a way that can’t be resolved by time. Republicans of the suburbs, of the more educated and affluent places, won’t agree to be the official Trump Forever Party. They just won’t. They will leave. Some will go third-party and try to build something there. Some will blend into the Democratic Party and hope they can improve things there.
Trump supporters will stay on in a smaller, less competent party. But they will, as time passes, get tired of losing and also drift on somewhere.
But there will be no Republican Party after a Trump ’24 race, which, again, means the vehicle of conservative thought and policy will be gone.
Normal people may feel a sense of joy. Peggy feels a sense of dread. So she’s come to sing the praises of— wait for it— Chris Christie… someone well known to the American people, and generally hated by everyone. His standing among Republicans in the polls careens back and forth between zero and 1%. She claimed that Christie “is almost Trump’s equal in showbiz and his superior in invective, so he can do some damage. Would it be a suicide mission? I don’t know. But those kamikazes took out a lot of tankers. He has been told that if he takes down a bad guy and loses, he goes down in the history books, and if he takes down a bad guy and wins, even better. Seen this way he can’t lose…Christie is a wholly undervalued executive talent. People forget what a good governor he was when he was being a good governor, which is not a typo.”
No? Anyone might have imagined it was. But she says, in effect, he weakened unions, he weakened public schools and filled New Jersey with charter schools and… because of him the state survived superstorm Sandy. “Love him or hate him,” she wrote, “he knows what to do with power. He isn’t secretly frightened of it, as many politicians are… A challenge: People don’t remember what a golden boy he was. He was at his political height 10 years ago, in a country that barely remembers last week. He is going to have to do a lot of reminding without sounding like the guy at the bar remembering that time he kicked the field goal.”
She admits “there were scandals” and, more or less, dismisses them because “He’s from Jersey, where by tradition they play fast and loose.” Julia Terruso writes for the Philadelphia Inquirer which, like the New York Times, covers New Jersey politics. Terruso decided to remind everyone who Chris Christie really is— a refresher course— before a GOP hack like Noonan could rewrite history... which Ole Peg tried doing the very next day.
“Christie,” she began, “first ran for the GOP presidential nomination in 2016. When he entered the race, there were 14 other Republican contenders. He pitched himself as a straight-talking, experienced governor and former federal prosecutor who’d worked on both sides of the aisle… He poured most of his campaign resources into New Hampshire and tried to establish himself as the establishment candidate over U.S. Sen. Marco Rubio of Florida. He made headlines when he tripped up Rubio at the GOP debates, but in the New Hampshire primary Christie finished a disappointing sixth out of the eight Republican candidates remaining in the race… Christie, longtime friends with Trump, endorsed him after suspending his own campaign and advised his 2020 campaign.”
Trump stiffed Christie and offered him low level jobs that Christie felt were beneath his dignity. So Christie restyled himself “a frequent critic— and a quote machine— blasting Trump on cable news shows and vowing never to support him again. Christie’s campaign has indicated he will go after Trump and the media attention that follows.”
The Bridgegate scandal reminded New Jersey voters what a dick Christie is— and has always been. “He left office with some of the lowest approval ratings for an outgoing governor in recent New Jersey history. “Federal prosecutors said three Christie allies closed the lanes to punish a local Democratic mayor for refusing to endorse the governor’s reelection. One pleaded guilty and two others, Bill Baroni and Bridget Anne Kelly, were convicted and sentenced to 18 and 13 months respectively for their role in the scandal… Shortly after they were convicted in 2016, Christie was dropped as the head of Trump’s White House transition team.”
When Christie’s presidential bid failed, he had about a year left as governor of New Jersey. His approval among residents had fallen to about 26%, in part due to him campaigning for so many months out of state.
Then Christie provoked widespread ridicule when a Star-Ledger photographer captured him and his family relaxing on a Jersey Shore beach during a government shutdown. All state beaches had been closed during the July Fourth holiday weekend because of a state government shutdown, but Christie was captured sunning on an empty part of Island State Park outside of the governor’s summer residence.
He defended the move at the time. “That’s just the way it goes,” Christie said. “Run for governor, and you can have a residence.”
In his final address after eight years as governor, Christie said he ran “to “be different” and “talk bluntly.”
“We needed to care less about being loved and more about being respected,” Christie said then.
After leaving the New Jersey governor’s mansion in January 2018, he went back into law and became a cable news commentator for ABC. His name popped up in a strange federal investigation in 2018 into whether a fugitive financier from Malaysia used laundered money to pay a legal team that included Christie.
He wrote a memoir in 2019, Let Me Finish, described by a book critic for NPR as “a big, loud book by a man with a full head of steam, stories to tell and scores to settle.”