Chris Christie Starting to Look Like Sarah Palin

There’s a ton of upside to Gov. Chris Christie.

My personal checklist runs as follows:

First, he’s from my homeland, the great state of New Jersey—a wonderful, dense, complicated, messy place, with none of the tedious pretensions or quack rebelliousness of, say, Texas.

[Vote: Should Chris Christie Run for President?]

Christie is an inveterate realist—practicing politics in New Jersey will do that to you. His foreign policy-themed speech at the Reagan Library, for example, spoke of acknowledging “local realities” and the limits of “coercion.”

On economics, Christie favors the Bowles-Simpson commission recommendations, whose increases in federal revenue would put him at odds with the GOP base—but in touch with fiscal reality.

On hot button issues like gun control, Christie opts for the sane middle. In response to the pigheaded ideologue Sean Hannity, who asked if every citizen of the state should have a licensed weapon if they want one, Christie said: “In New Jersey, that’s not going to happen, Sean.”

[Check out our editorial cartoons on the GOP.]

In a political atmosphere in which ideas as bad as they are big float around like clouds, I wish every would-be president had such sound intellectual reflexes: “Sounds great, buddy, but it ain’t gonna happen.”

I love that Christie is solidly pro-life. If you’d told me, before 2009, that there’d be a pro-life governor of New Jersey, I’d have said you were nuts.

I could go on. Suffice it say, if Chris Christie were running for president, I’d almost certainly vote for him.

[See photos of the GOP hopefuls on the campaign trail.]

But this agonizing, Hamlet-esque, will-he-or-won’t-he business is getting old, and fast. I have to say, it reflects poorly on his character. This is a guy who said:

Short of suicide, I don’t really know what I’d have to do to convince you people that I’m not running. I’m not running! I’ve said I don’t want to. I’m not going to. There is zero chance I will. I don’t feel like I’m ready to be president. I don’t want to run for president. I don’t have the fire in the belly to run for president. But, yet, everyone seems to think that I’ve left the door open a little bit.

For a politician whose national reputation was built on unusually blunt rhetoric, what are we to make of a potential national candidate whose decision making process seems so riddled with doubt?

On this question, at least, Christie’s vacillation puts him in league with that other tease, Sarah Palin. Speaking of whom, Christie famously downplayed Palin’s chances of becoming president, telling late-night talkshow host Jimmy Fallon, “Who knows? … It’s an amazing world.”

If Christie keeps this game up for much longer, he could wind up being a similar kind of punchline himself.

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