Via the Washington Free Beacon. Alternate headline: “Christie still capable of occasionally criticizing Democrats — barely.” You’d think that a guy whom nearly 70 percent of local voters say deserves a second term might be bolder in taking shots at the president; as it is, the most arresting thing about this is how tepid it is compared to his usual rhetorical M.O. When he praised Obama for his help on Sandy relief just before the election, it wasn’t enough to say O did a nice job. He was “outstanding” and deserved “great credit.” When the House GOP didn’t pass the Sandy relief bill as quickly as he’d like, it wasn’t a disappointment. It was “callous” and “disgusting.” The NRA ad that focused on security at Obama’s daughters’ school wasn’t over the line and counterproductive, it was “awful” and “reprehensible.” Whereas Obama’s partisan inaugural address, which many commentators — including the Republican Speaker of the House — took as a second-term declaration of war on the GOP, doesn’t “augur well” for bipartisanship and wasn’t “necessarily productive” in reducing gridlock. But “we’ll see how he acts.” Gee, Chris, go easy on him.

But I guess he knows what he’s doing. Jim Geraghty notes that his approval rating among New Jersey Republicans right now is, no typo, 93/4. If he’s serious about running for president, he’ll spend most of 2014 and 2015 dumping relentlessly on Obama to get back in the good graces of Republicans nationally. Most GOP primary voters have, as I’ve noted before, very short memories when it comes to candidates who’ve strayed too far towards the other side of the aisle in the past. And the more Christie can keep his approval rating up with Democrats, the more he can sell himself as the “electable” candidate who can poach centrists from Hillary or Cuomo or whoever. (There’s already one poll suggesting that might be true.) We nominated McCain and Romney on those grounds. What makes you think Republican voters have learned their lesson?