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The Acela Republican

 

Chris Christie’s problem isn’t a pack of mouthbreathing staffers driven by spite and the petty thuggishness of an ugly, faux-Sopranos, tough guy campaign culture. The bridge scandal isn’t even all that particularly interesting.

Christies’s problem is that he’s 2016’s Acela Republican…and he believes his own press.

Who is the Acela Republican?

The Acela Republican is as comfortable in the green rooms of MSNBC as he is at a green energy conference. The Acela Republican isn’t one of those horrible Tea Party yahoos who comes from somewhere other than a big, coastal metropolis. The Acela Republican is softer, smoother, and less confrontational…unless he’s taking on his own party.

Then, he’s a ferocious scold. “Taking on his own party” is the passport of the Acela Republican to hundreds of stories about how he—and only he—can save the GOP. He talks about bringing people together, working with the other party, getting things done for everyone, regardless of politics…if only his own backward, hick, red-state, cousin-kissing bumpkin party will see the light.

Right now of course, it’s Governor Chris Christie. In 2012, it was Jon Huntsman. Most famous of all, of course, was John McCain. They’re not entirely new, but in an age of rising conservatism, the Acela Republican is just the kind of candidate America’s media class pretend they could almost possibly contemplate thinking of voting for in the general election. The Acela Republican is the one Republican who shares their contempt for the GOP broadly, and modern conservatism specifically.

Take John McCain. In 2008, McCain was The Maverick. The Republican who spoke truth. The rebel. The Media Darling. The go-to talking head for any Sunday show worth its salt. The theory was that McCain could sell the GOP with his ferocious streak of independence and integrity. With a history of glowing op-eds and a press corps that raved about his vaunted Straight Talk, McCain was confident that he’d broken the code.

Well, my friends…the moment Barack Obama appeared on the scene, everything the press loved about John McCain was either forgotten, subject to a sinister revisionism, or turned into a negative. Outrageous, patently false stories and unbelievably ugly attacks on McCain’s personal life, political character, and even his military service came fast, and without a scintilla of shame.

Conservatives wary of Chris Christie understand this better than many of the donor class who have embraced the Governor. They’ve seen this movie before, and know this pattern will repeat itself the moment the stakes are real and the second Christie is locked in as the nominee.

The big, genuine, authentic personality the press adores today? Watch the speed with which he’s reframed as a corrupt bully, a thug, a sweaty jerk with his finger wagging in the face of the little people. Those fiery, fun videos of him smacking around whiny teacher union reps will suddenly be windows into media analyses of a deeply angry, perhaps violent man. All it will take is one Vine of Christie losing it with some little old lady in New Hampshire, and we have the 47% story of 2016.

You can understand why the Acela Republican is blinded by the adulation and praise. You can see the cycle of addiction to the cheering and the media rewards given to him every time he scolds and chastises the Republican Party and the conservative movement. It will be too late when he understands that the price of the glowing coverage is a slow accretion of betrayal and insult to the very people who are necessary to win the Republican primary.

Christie had burned a lot of political bridges with conservatives well before his staff blocked one in real life. True to the Acela Republican’s way, Christie is much better known for his fights, conflicts, and criticism of the GOP than for his leadership against the Democratic Party. He’s quick off the mark to insult John Boehner or Rand Paul, but less so on Democrats like Barack Obama or his friend across the Hudson, Andrew Cuomo.

Will Chris Christie survive Bridgegate? Most likely. Will he be the Republican nominee? It was unlikely before the bridge scandal.

And last time I checked, the Acela doesn’t stop at 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue.

Image via Shutterstock

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  1. Profile photo of Randy Weivoda Thatcher

    I agree with this one hundred percent. The last couple of elections we went with a middle-of-the-roader and the Democratic party essentially chose the progressive dream candidate – and cleaned our clock. The one Republican in the last 30 years who won two terms by large margins (that would be Reagan) was considered an extremist. It seems the American people aren’t so afraid of “extremists,” so why go with another moderate?

    This is my favorite line, but you forgot to mention racist.

    Rick Wilson: He talks about bringing people together, working with the other party, getting things done for everyone, regardless of politics…if only his own backward, hick, red-state, cousin-kissing bumpkin party will see the light.

     · 5 minutes ago

    • #1
    • January 16, 2014 at 3:24 am
  2. Profile photo of MSJL Thatcher

    It’s too early to say how this scandal will affect Christie’s 2016 hopes. My lack of support for him is mainly that he doesn’t seem particularly interested in helping down-ticket GOP prospects. For example, his decision to hold a special election for the Senate seat was a gift to the Democrats when it was already very likely he was going to win in a landslide and might have actually helped the GOP candidate’s prospects. 

    I would like to see the next GOP standard bearer working diligently to strengthen the party across the board, and not just where it is convenient for his/her prospects. Regardless of whether Christie is being a scold, I need him to be a party leader as much as an effective candidate.

    • #2
    • January 16, 2014 at 3:29 am
  3. Profile photo of Mike LaRoche Thatcher
    Randy Weivoda: I agree with this one hundred percent. The last couple of elections we went with a middle-of-the-roader and the Democratic party essentially chose the progressive dream candidate – and cleaned our clock. The one Republican in the last 30 years who won two terms by large margins (that would be Reagan) was considered an extremist. It seems the American people aren’t so afraid of “extremists,” so why go with another moderate?

    This is my favorite line, but you forgot to mention racist.

    Rick Wilson: He talks about bringing people together, working with the other party, getting things done for everyone, regardless of politics…if only his own backward, hick, red-state, cousin-kissing bumpkin party will see the light.

     · 5 minutes ago

    8 minutes ago

    Brilliantly said, by both of you. It’s time the GOP quit trying to curry favor with those who hate it and nominate a candidate with solid conservative principles and accomplishments.

    • #3
    • January 16, 2014 at 3:35 am
  4. Profile photo of Rick Wilson Contributor
    Rick Wilson Post author

    Goes without saying? 😉

    Randy Weivoda: I agree with this one hundred percent. The last couple of elections we went with a middle-of-the-roader and the Democratic party essentially chose the progressive dream candidate – and cleaned our clock. The one Republican in the last 30 years who won two terms by large margins (that would be Reagan) was considered an extremist. It seems the American people aren’t so afraid of “extremists,” so why go with another moderate?

    This is my favorite line, but you forgot to mention racist.

    Rick Wilson: He talks about bringing people together, working with the other party, getting things done for everyone, regardless of politics…if only his own backward, hick, red-state, cousin-kissing bumpkin party will see the light.

     · 5 minutes ago

    12 minutes ago

    • #4
    • January 16, 2014 at 3:37 am
  5. Profile photo of T-Fiks Member

    Great exposition, but you should have provided an “acela” definition. Then I wouldn’t have had to google it.

    First listing I checked was the Urban Dictionary

    • #5
    • January 16, 2014 at 3:39 am
  6. Profile photo of PsychLynne Member
    MSJL: My lack of support for him is mainly that he doesn’t seem particularly interested in helping down-ticket GOP prospects.

    I would like to see the next GOP standard bearer working diligently to strengthen the party across the board, and not just where it is convenient for his/her prospects.

    One of the few areas where conservatives could take comfort in ’08 and ’12 was the success at state level governorships and legislatures. It would be nice if the next GOP presidential candidate could build on that and be a force down-ticket. Then we begin to evoke change in the present, with an investment in the future. But that requires a broad perspective that stretches beyond what’s good for the candidate in the moment, to leveraging the moment for the future growth. Not sure if Christie can do that.

    Of course, it would also be good if the next candidate could communicate effectively and, while I’m dreaming, if chocolate was calorie free.

    • #6
    • January 16, 2014 at 3:39 am
  7. Profile photo of BrentB67 Inactive

    Good words Rick. Republicans are not going to win the media with anyone ever. When they try to do so they just burn their support from the right.

    I think the lesson is this: Run to the right and let the enthusiastic supporters that live there carry the message at the roots.

    You are correct that when it is crunch time the media will run to the left. Every time.

    • #7
    • January 16, 2014 at 3:43 am
  8. Profile photo of TeamAmerica Member

    @PsychLynne- Yes, we seem to have a poor choice- a politically skilled and good communicator, but possibly self-centered Christie, vs a possibly more principled but less skilled candidate like Rand Paul, Scott Walker, or a Scott or Snyder. A Christie likely has the skills to sway the low information swing voters, but might prove treacherous when in office. Since both WSJ columnist Kimberly Strassel and Michael Medved have noted that Romney did not lose due to a lack of conservative votes, but due to losing youth, women’s and minority votes, nominating a true-blue but unpersuasive candidate would likely mean defeat.

    • #8
    • January 16, 2014 at 3:52 am
  9. Profile photo of RyanM Coolidge

    What a fantastic post, Rick! 

    I couldn’t agree more, even if I haven’t been saying the exact same thing (with far less eloquence) since Christy first began proving this to be the case – almost immediately after bursting onto the scene, in fact.

    I am happy to talk about how the blundering two-faced lapdog media rants on and on about “bridgegate,” while giving a pass to Obama for behavior that dwarfs anything Christy could even dream of… but at the same time, I’d love to see the Chris Christy phenomenon finally squashed.

    As Brent says, we can ONLY win from the right, because we will be painted that way regardless, and if we do it from the center, then not only have we compromised our principles, we’ve alienated those who would actually support us.

    • #9
    • January 16, 2014 at 3:57 am
  10. Profile photo of Rick Wilson Contributor
    Rick Wilson Post author

    Thank you!

    Ryan M: What a fantastic post, Rick! 

    I couldn’t agree more, even if I haven’t been saying the exact same thing (with far less eloquence) since Christy first began proving this to be the case – almost immediately after bursting onto the scene, in fact.

    I am happy to talk about how the blundering two-faced lapdog media rants on and on about “bridgegate,” while giving a pass to Obama for behavior that dwarfs anything Christy could even dream of… but at the same time, I’d love to see the Chris Christy phenomenon finally squashed.

    As Brent says, we can ONLY win from the right, because we will be painted that way regardless, and if we do it from the center, then not only have we compromised our principles, we’ve alienated those who would actually support us. · 20 minutes ago

    • #10
    • January 16, 2014 at 4:22 am
  11. Profile photo of Randy Weivoda Thatcher
    Ryan M:

    As Brent says, we can ONLY win from the right, because we will be painted that way regardless, and if we do it from the center, then not only have we compromised our principles, we’ve alienated those who would actually support us. · 36 minutes ago

    I know that some people will say “What are Republican voters, going to do? Vote for the Democrat?” No, most will vote for the Republican just because he’s the second worst choice. But they’re not going to invest their cash, their time, and their effort into helping to spread the word, register voters, etc if their candidate is just the lesser of two evils. And in some states the race will be so close that this grassroots work can tip the balance.

    • #11
    • January 16, 2014 at 4:43 am
  12. Profile photo of Sabrdance Member

    In the spirit of credit where its due -I agree with all of this.

    • #12
    • January 16, 2014 at 4:52 am
  13. Profile photo of Plato's Retweet Inactive

    reframed as a corrupt bully, a thug, a sweaty jerk with his finger wagging in the face of the little people. Those fiery, fun videos of him smacking around whiny teacher union reps

    Yes. His “I am not a bully” sound bite was a monumental miscue. How could a sentient Republican speak those words to the press? Old enough to remember Nixon, Moby Chris harpooned himself forever by that foolish utterance. Too late now. Woe is he! Oh, the huge manatee!

    Now he may never berate a deserving Everyman again. Smile at that surly waitress, big guy, and get used to it. You might as well lose what’s left of your impressive girth, because you’ll never get away with throwing it around again.

    So quick, rebrand as a sleek, muscular man of steely will and even temperament. Or else just be a good Governor the rest of the way, and retire to a long sinecure in the Senate. 

    • #13
    • January 16, 2014 at 5:24 am
  14. Profile photo of Matthew Gilley Member

    Yes, yes, yes. No more Y.A. Tittles promoting hair tonic, please.

    • #14
    • January 16, 2014 at 5:47 am
  15. Profile photo of Raw Prawn Member

    The thing about “bridgegate” that surprises me is the timing. The media is capable of sitting on a scandal until it’s useful to their agenda, or until it will do the least harm, depending on the subject. One example is the IRS scandal. Had the media been functioning as a watch dog, the IRS scandal could have been broken in March of 2012, not in March of 2013 when it was. 

    It’s been obvious Christie is the Republican the liberal media would most like to see run for President in 2016. Their agenda would have been best served had they sat on “bridgegate” until Christie had won the Republican nomination. The only explanation I can think of is that the media could not control their desire to punish Christie for barking back at them.

    The best characteristic of liberal “journalists” is that they are lazy. the second best is that they are petty. 

    • #15
    • January 16, 2014 at 6:31 am
  16. Profile photo of Fricosis Guy Coolidge

    Rick, as I tweeted, my problem with this line of attack is that this is who Christie is. He’s from Acela country and he’s not a particularly principled conservative. That’s why he’s not my ’16 guy.

    But let’s not lump him in with Red Staters who moved to DC to blow smoke up our [expletives], then sell us out. Can we really expect a better Governor of New Jersey at this time?

    Also, I doubt he’s going to shrivel up and blow away in the face of Democrat competition. Unlike most of the other Quislings, he’s actually had some.

    • #16
    • January 16, 2014 at 6:52 am
  17. Profile photo of Franco Member

    My sentiments as well. Great post. 

    • #17
    • January 16, 2014 at 7:01 am
  18. Profile photo of Jeffery Shepherd Member

    Joe Scarborough.

    There’s Takers and Makers out there. The Takers want to take more and more and more. The Makers don’t want to give any more than there already giving. The compromise of the Acela Republican is that the Takers get to take a just a little bit more. Not a lot more, but a little more every time.

    • #18
    • January 16, 2014 at 7:04 am
  19. Profile photo of Peter Robinson Founder

    In the post that landed above yours, Rick, I suggested that Jeb Bush might be starting to look pretty appealing for 2016–and then, in the comments, Jeb and I both got the tar whacked out of us.

    In your astute and experienced judgment, who’s more of an “Acela Republican?” Chris Christie or Jeb Bush?

    • #19
    • January 16, 2014 at 7:42 am
  20. Profile photo of BrentB67 Inactive

    Re #16 – Yes

    • #20
    • January 16, 2014 at 8:13 am
  21. Profile photo of Tommy De Seno Contributor

    Rick this is an excellent summary of the state of Christie. Nice job.

    The only thing I wouldn’t hold against him too much is a failure to go hard on Cuomo. There are too many things they are forced to do together. It would be very awkward.

     

    • #21
    • January 16, 2014 at 8:22 am
  22. Profile photo of Barbara Kidder Member
    Randy Weivoda
    Ryan M:

    As Brent says, we can ONLY win from the right, because we will be painted that way regardless, and if we do it from the center, then not only have we compromised our principles, we’ve alienated those who would actually support us. · 36 minutes ago

    I know that some people will say “What are Republican voters, going to do? Vote for the Democrat?” No, most will vote for the Republican just because he’s the second worst choice. But they’re not going to invest their cash, their time, and their effort into helping to spread the word, register voters, etc if their candidate is just the lesser of two evils. And in some states the race will be so close that this grassroots work can tip the balance. · 4 hours ago

    This is such a crucial point, and would play out as you describe with both Chris Christie and Jeb Bush.

    The conundrum that any ‘Acela’ Republican candidate faces is that, in order to win, they have to convince the ideological conservative voters, because they will really work for a candidate who they believe in!

    Romney was unable to ignite that kind of fervor. 

    • #22
    • January 16, 2014 at 9:47 am
  23. Profile photo of MichaelC19fan Member

    Congrats as this piece made it into the links section of HotAir.

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    I been noticing more and more Ricochet posts making it to HotAir and other sites.

    • #23
    • January 16, 2014 at 9:52 am
  24. Profile photo of Mister Dog Member
    Raw Prawn: The thing about “bridgegate” that surprises me is the timing. The media is capable of sitting on a scandal until it’s useful to their agenda, or until it will do the least harm, depending on the subject…It’s been obvious Christie is the Republican the liberal media would most like to see run for President in 2016. Their agenda would have been best served had they sat on “bridgegate” until Christie had won the Republican nomination. The only explanation I can think of is that the media could not control their desire to punish Christie for barking back at them.

    The media is counting on the memory of the modern electorate to be somewhere in the neighborhood of two weeks. They can beat Christie about the head with this now and still have it available for use in 2016 if required because by then it might as well be a new story again for all that it will be remembered by most.

    • #24
    • January 16, 2014 at 10:12 am
  25. Profile photo of Rick Wilson Contributor
    Rick Wilson Post author

    Having seen Jeb govern, he was an effective, successful, consistent conservative. Real ed reform, real budget and tax progress…and grew the FL GOP #s dramatically. I can’t recall him burning down fellow GOPers. Advantage Jeb. Fix the Common Core issue, and he’s formidable.

    [Dons Nomex gloves.]

    Peter Robinson: In the post that landed above yours, Rick, I suggested that Jeb Bush might be starting to look pretty appealing for 2016–and then, in the comments, Jeb and I both got the tar whacked out of us.

    In your astute and experienced judgment, who’s more of an “Acela Republican?” Chris Christie or Jeb Bush? · 3 hours ago

    • #25
    • January 16, 2014 at 11:15 am
  26. Profile photo of EndOfPatience Member

    I’m in an argument at another site with someone who says that a Third Party effort resulting from the Republican abandonment of conservative principles only helps the Democrats and other Leftists.

    My response to that is: Why, yes! Yes it does! And even worse, if you’re a Ruling Class “Communism Tomorrow” Republican who seeks to compromise ever Leftward with the “Communism Today” Democrats, it even means YOU might lose that comfortable seat at the table that comes with getting elected as a Republican!

    Which is why the GD Acela Republicans had better figure out that THIS time around, we’re applying one of Friedman’s principles and they had better move OUR way or they can move out.

    (And anyone who thinks that RINO bully from Jersey is going to win an election with every conservative in the country trash talking him at every opportunity better find someone to explain the meaning of the term “Whisper Campaign.”)

    (BTW, great article, Rick.)

    • #26
    • January 17, 2014 at 1:38 am
  27. Profile photo of Stephen M Inactive

    Urban dictionary has an interesting take on the word “acela” which I won’t spoil for the curious.

    • #27
    • January 17, 2014 at 2:00 am
  28. Profile photo of Petty Boozswha Member

    Every single dispute you red meat conservatives have with Christie the left has with Hillary – she voted to attack poor widdie Saddam, she sat on Walmart’s board of directors, etc. Yet I have never heard a leftie say she/he would not hold their nose and vote for her if their preferred candidate – Warren or whoever – doesn’t get the nomination. It breaks my heart when I read how gleefully you guys want to lose if you don’t get your own way. I know Christie will never be your first choice, and two years is a geological era in politics, but if he does appear to be the only candidate that can keep three more Ginsburg’s off the Supreme Court, a President ramming disparate impact down our throats in every aspect of domestic policy, flinging open the borders even worse than now, destroying the economy of this country for the next 30 years: could you at least consider your children’s future before you have your petulant pity party?

    If a plausible candidate that can win and who satisfies your litmus tests comes out of the mist in the next two years I will dump Christie too.

    • #28
    • January 17, 2014 at 2:43 am
  29. Profile photo of jdm Inactive
    jdm

    Petty Boozswha: what’s with the name-calling? Sure is tiresome from yet another one of those ostensibly on the same side as I. If I don’t renew my subscription to Ricochet, this is why. I can get this for free from Hot Air.

    • #29
    • January 17, 2014 at 5:10 am
  30. Profile photo of Petty Boozswha Member
    jdm: Petty Boozswha: what’s with the name-calling? 

    You are right, I apologize. But I think the RINO meme is a pretty pejorative ad hominum as well, and Christie doesn’t deserve it, at least not in the same sense Huntsman or even McCain did. Christie has been fighting for values we all share and has accomplished a lot of good things in NJ. Our party can’t win if our tent isn’t big enough to have room for the Chris Christie’s in this country.

    • #30
    • January 17, 2014 at 5:43 am
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