Richard Cohen explained why Chris Christie will have a hard time winning the Republican presidential nomination:
From a Web site called the Iowa Republican, I learned that part of the problem with John McCain and Mitt Romney, seriatim losers to Barack Obama, “is they were deemed too moderate by many Iowa conservatives.” The sort of candidates Iowa Republicans prefer have already been in the state. The blog cited Sen. Ted Cruz of Texas, Sen. Mike Lee of Utah (considered to the right of Cruz, if such a thing is possible), Texas Gov. Rick Perry, Rep. Paul Ryan of Wisconsin, the party’s recent vice presidential candidate and its resident abacus, and the inevitable Sarah Palin, the Alaska quitter who, I think, actually now lives in Arizona. If this is the future of the GOP, then it’s in the past.
None of these candidates bears the slightest resemblance to Christie. And the more literate of them — that’s not you, Palin — must have chortled over post-election newspaper columns extolling Christie as precisely the sort of candidate the GOP ought to run in 2016. This is the dream of moderate Republicans, but not many of them vote in the Iowa caucuses or the South Carolina primary, two of the early nominating contests.
I agree so far with Cohen, except that the major problem Chris Christie faces is not that he isn’t conservative but that he has been willing to compromise in the manner which has been necessary to succeed in New Jersey. To Republican primary voters, compromise is evil, and to compromise on conservative principles is as bad as not believing in conservative principles.
Cohen gave this description of how the Tea Party sees the world:
Today’s GOP is not racist, as Harry Belafonte alleged about the tea party, but it is deeply troubled — about the expansion of government, about immigration, about secularism, about the mainstreaming of what used to be the avant-garde. People with conventional views must repress a gag reflex when considering the mayor-elect of New York — a white man married to a black woman and with two biracial children. (Should I mention that Bill de Blasio’s wife, Chirlane McCray, used to be a lesbian?) This family represents the cultural changes that have enveloped parts — but not all — of America. To cultural conservatives, this doesn’t look like their country at all.
As with the Dixiecrats, the fight is not over a particular program — although Obamacare comes close — but about a tectonic shift of attitudes. I thank Dennis J. Goldford, professor of politics and international relations at Drake University in Des Moines, for leading me to a live performance on YouTube of Merle Haggard singing “Are the Good Times Really Over.” This chestnut, a lament for a lost America, has been viewed well more than 2 million times. It could be the tea party’s anthem.
I might agree if not for the statement that today’s GOP is not racist. If they gag when they see a white man married to a black woman and if they gag over biracial children, they are racist. When they dream of the Good Times, they are dreaming of a time when minorities were kept in their place. Their views on immigration are based upon the racist desire to keep out people of other races. Their economic policies are based upon scaring low-information white males into thinking that if they don’t vote Republican, minorities will take what they are entitled to. The Southern strategy of Lee Atwater remains in place:
You start out in 1954 by saying, “Nigger, nigger, nigger.” By 1968 you can’t say “nigger”—that hurts you, backfires. So you say stuff like, uh, forced busing, states’ rights, and all that stuff, and you’re getting so abstract. Now, you’re talking about cutting taxes, and all these things you’re talking about are totally economic things and a byproduct of them is, blacks get hurt worse than whites.… “We want to cut this,” is much more abstract than even the busing thing, uh, and a hell of a lot more abstract than “Nigger, nigger.”
Beyond this rather major error, Cohen is right that the Tea Party cannot handle the modern world, and will not support a conservative such as Chris Christie who, unlike them, is not totally out of touch with reality.