Courting Chris Christie

Christie Jagendorf.jpg

(Flickr/Bob Jagendorf)

With Mitt Romney's conservatism still suspect and Rick Perry revealed to possess neither a golden tongue nor a nimble mind, Republicans, particularly elite ones, are still uneasy about their potential 2012 candidates. The answer? Why, a not-particularly-popular, not-particularly-experienced, ill-tempered, untelegenic governor of New Jersey, of course!

Yes, they're still hankering for Chris Christie, for reasons that are not entirely clear. Operatives are making the case for him, big money-folks are promising cash, and political reporters are weighing the pros and cons (see here or here). But the most appealing thing about him is the fact that he's not actually running.

Right now, Christie can bask in the affection of his fellow Republicans as they beseech him to enter the race. But were he actually to run, all that would evaporate within a couple of weeks. Once you go from being a potential candidate to being an actual candidate, things are a lot messier. All of a sudden there are people being paid to rifle through the details of your career to find embarrassing tidbits. There are other Republicans criticizing you. Instead of sitting back in Trenton doing an occasional interview, you've got to slog through the trail, answering impertinent questions from voters and reporters. When you screw up – and you will, everybody does – it will be a much bigger deal than any time you've screwed up before.

Romance stories always end when the couple actually gets together, because the courtship period is full of mystery, excitement, and uncertainty. Relationships, on the other hand, have less dramatic pleasures and also lots of mundane activity in between the kissing in the rain, the running to catch the train to tell her your real feelings, and so on. Right now, the GOP's relationship with Christie is all courtship. If he knows what's good for him, he'll keep it going as long as possible.