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Posted by on Feb 9, 2014 in Featured, Politics | 1 comment

NJ Star-Ledger Says “We blew this one” in Endorsing Christie for Re-Election

Newspaper editorial boards and editors don’t usually retract endorsements or express regrets about positions they original took after a great deal of deliberation. It does happen, but not often. In a column, the New Jersey Star-Ledger Editorial Page Editor Tom Moran has now expressed regret for endorsing Christie, but he leaves the door open (slightly) for endorsing him again.

Most notable and enlightening is a paragraph where Moran notes that Christie has tried to bully New Jersey’s largest newspaper over the years: “. Christie has boycotted the editorial board for years, an attempt to bully us into more loving coverage, ” he wrote. “So we’ve had a front-row view of what a creep he can be.”

He noted that the paper came under fire for its endorsement, including from MSNBC’s Ranchael Maddow: “An endorsement is not a love embrace. It is a choice between two flawed human beings. And the winner is often the less bad option. But yes, we blew this one. When the endorsement ran, I could not get a cup of coffee in the People’s Republic of Montclair without my liberal friends taunting me. Back then, I pushed back.”

The editorial writers, he noted, were under no illustions about Christie’s personality and political character: “Yes, we knew Christie was a bully. But we didn’t know his crew was crazy enough to put people’s lives at risk in Fort Lee as a means to pressure the mayor. We didn’t know he would use Hurricane Sandy aid as a political slush fund. And we certainly didn’t know that Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer was sitting on a credible charge of extortion by Lt. Gov. Kim Guadagno.”

And the editorial board was split: ” We regard Christie as the most overrated politician in the country, at least until now, a man who is better at talking than governing. We criticized him for trashing the working poor, for his tea party approach to the environment, for his opposition to gay marriage and a livable minimum wage. And so on.”

But, he wrote, Christie had some solid accomplishments as governor.

Meanwhile, Moran points out, Christie’s descent from the perceived to rank of GOPers for the 2016 Republican nomination opens the door for more conservative Tea Party affiliated candidates to grab the party’s national nod. He concludes:

If one of the tea party favorites gets the Republican nomination, then the country is at risk. Because as we have just seen, one scandal can flip the board in politics. What if Hillary Clinton is the Democratic nominee, and some dark secret emerges about her tenure as secretary of state? How does President Rand Paul sound to you?

Now ask yourself this: If the Republican primary came to a choice between Paul and Christie, which candidate would you endorse?

At the risk of repeating a mistake, I’d pick Christie in that primary, even now. And if you think that makes some sense, then you understand how excruciating the endorsement process can be.

Some thoughts:

  • Newspapers make editorial endorsements in a moment in time. It’s like taking a photograph. So while he expresses regret and some liberals progressives will now say “I told you so,” the fact is precisely how ruthless Christie and/or his team were and precisely how political dumb Christie and/or his team were was not evident when the endorsement was made. Christie had appealed to MANY centrists, independents, moderates and Democrats because of what was visible to the public at the time. If he had been the person they felt they saw running for re-election, Christie would not be in this political mess, his polls wouldn’t be down and the newspaper would see no reason to express a regret.
  • Even if Christie survives this and does make a run for the White House, all of the Governor’s horses and all the Governor’s men can’t put his old image back together again. If it turns out he really didn’t know about the “bridgegate,” using Sandy money as a hostage to force approval of a redevelopment project, or an almost infantile attack on former Port Authority official and high school friend David Wildstein (revealing his Wilstein’s’s problems with a teacher in high school), then it turns out he is clueless and would be almost a danger to have in the Oval Office.
  • Moran’s column will likely embolden others who have info about the Christie administration to come forward. Nothing creates momentum like…momentum.
  • GO HERE for more blog reaction.