He has easily the best take on the current election
I agree with Matt Lewis of the Daily Beast when he credits Chris Christie with having the best take on the current political moment – simply because he realizes it’s a decision between “Trump or not Trump,” and is acting on that assumption.
But Christie also has the one talent anyone who wants to beat Trump must have – an innate, Rickles-like ability to use one-liners to shoot him down. That factor has always seemed obvious to me. In fact it’s only because of politicians like the hapless (and oblivious) Marco Rubio that that strategy came to seem unworkable. But then again, Rubio’s haplessness has become legendary, in part because it also helped give Christie his one shining moment of 2016, when it allowed him to single-handedly blast Rubio onto the trash heap of presidential history.
In some ways, that incident also helps illustrate the other reason Lewis cites for giving Christie a big fat leg up. He’s entertaining. Which means Christie has more going for him than any candidate other than Trump. So why is he lagging in the polls? And why is he ultimately likely to fail to win the nomination?
Because he doesn’t know how to truly connect with Trump voters.
Sure, he knows how to sling the one-liners, and in a way that anyone not named Donald Trump can appreciate. But in order for him to be successful, he will need to bring Trump country Republicans over to him. And he just doesn’t seem to have the touch for that.
So who does?
Regrettably, no one to this point – at least not in the real world. And the only way to appreciate what I mean by that, is to listen to Charlie Wyatt, the former stand up comic in my novel The Contrarian Candidate. And I’m being serious here. Because it’s impossible to understand what’s truly missing, even from an otherwise talented politician like Chis Christie, unless you listen to someone who has what it takes – however fictional he may be.
And along with a political comedian’s acerbic wit, Wyatt has the ability to connect with Trump’s voters in a way that only someone who grew up in Trump country can. And sure, there are plenty of politicians who say that’s where they’re from. But few of them really seem to know how to connect with the people we’re talking about here. And as David Books of the New York Times and others have pointed out, that’s because today’s politicians seem to have grown up on the other side of the tracks from those folks, and then, as their lives (and careers outside politics) progressed, did whatever they could to drift further from them. And as a result, they just don’t seem to know those folks; know how they think, know how they talk, know how they feel.
That takes someone like Wyatt, someone who can talk to them about anything from assault rifles to sexual abuse, with the kind of barroom banter they appreciate and understand – all the while empathizing, even sympathising, with their understanding of the world. And that allows Wyatt to show that he’s one of them and knows where they’re coming from – in part because he really comes from there too.
Christie will never have that kind of backhome touch. Which is why Trump voters will never really warm to him, the way they might to someone like Wyatt. Christie is too smart-mouthed-New Yorker for them, too sharp and edgy. Plus he’s too well educated and willing to show it – unlike Trump who (despite his own assessment) seems too dumb to know anything about anything truly worth knowing.
All of which lines up very nicely with a line of attack Christie’s very adept at using – a line of attack which is particularly effective against someone like Trump – showing what an ignorant, incompetent, loser Trump really is.
But most Trump supporters think he’s smart – at least in a foggy and confused, what-did-he-just-say kind of way. And unfortunately Christie doesn’t know how to campaign outside his attack mode in a way that allows him to appeal to voters who think and feel that way about Trump.
Plus they will always see Christie as a politician, since that’s how they first met him – and as a politician they didn’t particularly like. In fact he’s one of the most disliked Republicans (at least among Republicans). Democrats and Independents like him better. But that’s not exactly a winning profile for someone who’s seeking the Republican nomination.
No doubt Christie’s presence will weaken Trump to some extent. But who’s he going to weaken Trump for – to who’s benefit?
That’s complicated by the fact that this race isn’t about the usual left/right dynamic. It’s about the more historical “haves versus have-nots,” and the dividing line between the classes – or in its modern context, those riding-high-on-the-global-economy, versus those getting-left-behind-by-it-all. And that definitely leaves Christie out. Because there’s nothing “getting left behind” about that guy, except maybe the trailing wobble of his butt.
So how has a rich New Yorker like Trump gotten away with it. He’s done it by convincing his supporters the world is out to get him – an idea that comes naturally to him, thanks to having been rejected by New York’s elite for so long. But again, New Jersey’s former top prosecutor and governor is never going to pass the smell test as a left-behinder. So he can forget about it.
And so can Tim Scott and Doug Burgum and Nikki Haley and Vivek Ramaswamy and anyone else who takes so much as a desirous glance at the rags to riches card. Because for the most part, Trump voters aren’t interested. To them it’s about the fact that you’ve made it and they haven’t. And that’s probably as a result of something you’ve done to people like them.
And who does that leave as the likely nominee? You guessed it.
So could someone please point me to the real Charlie Wyatt? Because that’s who it’s going to take to save us all from four more years of Donald Trump.