Video: Christie dismantles union member over pension, health care benefits

Via Charles Cooke, this one’s got a nice retro feel to it, reminiscent of the golden days of 2010 when nearly every week brought an exciting new viral vid of the big guy yelling at a septuagenarian schoolteacher at some town-hall meeting. One Twitter pal, upon viewing this, declared that Christie will be the nominee and it won’t be close. A different Twitter pal, one more in touch with reality, thinks the real significance of this clip is that it points to a career in radio in 2017 after Christie flames out of the GOP primaries. That idea’s not half-bad: Reminding public-employee union members that it’s hard to call yourself “the working man” when lots of other working men and women are paying for your early retirement would be a full-time job.

Now, help me figure something out. How does this strategy help him in 2016?

Seeking a path under those clouds, Christie, 52, has in recent months turned away from the fiscal battles that were the running theme of his first term and toward efforts designed to showcase the softer side of his politics, as well as his support among blacks and Hispanics. In his reelection campaign last year, Christie won 21 percent of the former’s vote and 51 percent of the latter.

His agenda at the state capitol has reflected the shift in tone, with a focus on issues that rarely lead GOP pitches, including moving drug addicts into treatment instead of jail and revamping bail laws.

The day after the game, in a speech to the state chapter of the NAACP, Christie touted a task force he has launched on drug abuse and a flurry of social policies that he has ushered to passage in the Democratic-controlled state legislature. He also spoke hopefully about a possible amendment to the state constitution on the Nov. 4 ballot that would enable judges to waive bail for the indigent in minor crimes.

Rand Paul can focus on outreach to minority voters right now because his small-government bona fides aren’t in question. He’s a libertarian; with the possible exception of Ted Cruz, he’s the most dependable guy in the field to try to slash federal spending if he’s elected president. (He’s unquestionably the most dependable guy in the field to try to slash defense spending.) Christie’s in the opposite position. Establishmentarians like him because he’s already proved he can win a general election in what should be inhospitable territory for Republicans, the deep blue state of New Jersey. His alleged “electability” in attracting more centrist voters than Paul or Cruz would is taken for granted, rightly or wrongly. His problem is in the primaries, because he lacks the small-government bona fides that Paul and Cruz enjoy. That being so, you would think he’d spend the next six months punching the left in the face repeatedly to prove himself to wary conservatives. He doesn’t need to win right-wing votes in the primaries, he just needs to make righties comfortable enough with the thought of him as nominee that they won’t sit out the general. Scott Walker has an almost endless line of credit with the right for having stood his ground on collective bargaining under ferocious assault by the left. That’s the sort of thing that Christie should be doing — remind conservatives that he’s the most effective fighter in the field for what matters most to them, even if they disagree with him on other subjects. Instead he’s trying to polish his already well-polished centrist credentials. I don’t get it.