Christie Losing GOP Support by Being Reasonable

It was startling enough when New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie called out Islamophobes who were throwing fits over his appointment of a Muslim judge:

New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie appointed Muslim-American judge Sohail Mohammed to the state bench this week and has no patience for his detractors.

“Ignorance is behind the criticism of Sohail Mohammed… He is an extraordinary American who is an outstanding lawyer and played an integral role in the post-Sept. 11. period in building bridges between the Muslim American community in this state and law enforcement,” Christie told reporters.

When asked about fears that Mohammed could bring Sharia Law into his practice, Christie (who is known for his combative interchanges with reporters) snapped back:

“Sharia Law has nothing to do with this at all, it’s crazy!”

Now Christie is saying that he thinks global climate change is real and probably man-made:

“I can’t claim to fully understand all of this,” he said. “Certainly not after just a few months of study. But when you have over 90 percent of the world’s scientists who have studied this stating that climate change is occurring and that humans play a contributing role it’s time to defer to the experts.”

He added that climate science is complex and “we know enough to know that we are at least part of the problem.”

He said this while he was explaining why New Jersey is backing out of a 10-state initiative to curb greenhouse gasses, mind you, but he still said it. And the rightie blogosophere is apoplectic. “RINO” is one of the milder names they are calling him.

Christie’s problem is that if he’s going to be re-elected in New Jersey he needs to back off being too crazy. I believe New Jersey’s population has a higher-than-average percentage of college graduates in the sciences, for example. And although parts of NJ are pretty right-wing, and moderate Republicans win NJ elections regularly, the state as a whole will usually elect a liberal over someone who is far-far Right.

But by backing off being too crazy, he’s looking less and less like someone the Republican base is likely to support in the presidential primaries. The establishment still loves him, however, and I understand that unemployed Pawlenty staffers are hoping to snag a spot on the Christie team if he decides to run.

If he is thinking about running for POTUS, perhaps Christie plans to position himself as the guy who hates taxes and government spending but who is smarter than Perry, less crazy than Bachmann, and not as plastic as Romney. It could work.

The Problem With Perry

Howard Fineman uses the same Frankenstein’s Monster analogy I used in “The Bed That Karl Made.” Fineman writes,

The Perry-Rove story is shaping up as the ultimate tale of dangerously unintended consequences, with Rove in the role of Dr. Frankenstein and Perry as his living, rampaging political creation.

Insiders know that Rove helped launch Perry’s career by advising Perry’s successful run for agriculture commissioner in 1990.

But the larger, deeper point is that Rove designed and built the Texas Republican machine that has now allowed Perry to go national — even after Rove and company tried (and failed) to stop him by running Sen. Kay Bailey Hutchison (R-Texas) against him for re-election.

Get this:

Rove and much of the rest of the GOP Texas establishment was and is embarrassed by Perry

They’re capable of embarrassment?

From a distance, it makes little sense for the GOP to be any more embarrassed by Perry than by that nitwit Michele Bachmann, or for that matter by that other nitwit Paul Ryan, who is being urged to run. There’s something unique about Perry that really puts them off.

I suspect that the problem is, as Fineman says, that Perry’s “down home” crudeness is not an affectation, as G. W. Bush’s was. That’s who Perry is, even at black tie dinner parties. In other words, he doesn’t clean up well.

Have I mentioned that Perry genuinely creeps me out, too? Although I admit I am mildly interested in seeing if he is competitive in New Hampshire, a state that is decidedly not Texas. I wouldn’t think he would do well anywhere in the northeast, as the Yosemite Sam schtick does not play well in these parts. We’ll see.

But Dave Weigel writes that the Republican field is so ghastly that part of the establishment is hoping for a brokered convention. Although that begs the question — if the GOP establishment could pick any candidate it wanted, who would it be?

It also occurs to me that if Jeb Bush is ever going to run for president, this may be the time. The contrast with Perry could make Jeb look, well, not at all like his brother George.

Elsewhere — Steve Benen considers the stupid factor. And a great-granddaughter of Herbert Hoover says that if the GOP loses the youth vote in 2012, the millennial generation will be lost to the GOP forever.