Chris Christie: Who cares what reforms House conservatives want from the next Speaker?

I’m torn between thinking this is good populist pandering from a centrist who’s trying to build his own “outsider” brand and … just a weird thing to say by a would-be president, especially on a show like Scarborough’s that’s watched mainly by the sort of political junkie who would be curious about reforms to House procedures. What Jim Jordan and the Freedom Caucus want, among other things, is “regular order” in the House, empowering committee chairmen rather than the Speaker’s office to decide which bills come to the floor. They also want more conservatives on the Steering Committee, which helps select committee chairmen. If they got both of those things, it would increase tea partiers’ ability to put their bills before the whole House for a vote, and if that were to happen, a moderate like President Christie would care a lot. Rather than oppose those reforms on the merits, though, which would further irritate righties who already dislike him, I think Christie’s trying to follow Trump’s pox-on-all-their-houses lead re: Washington. He’s too darned real and authentic to care about egghead political stuff like how the House operates. He’s all about things that real people care about, like creating jobs — even though his ability to create jobs as president would depend in no small part on how the House operates.

Or would it? One question that’s rarely asked about presidential candidates on both sides is how likely they’d be to emulate Obama in broadly expanding executive power at Congress’s expense. The reason that’s not asked, I think, is because there’s no good way to measure. Maybe you can glean a little insight about governors by examining how they dealt with their state legislatures, but there’s nothing reliable to go on vis-a-vis senators, and obviously no one’s going to cop to having designs on lawmaking power as president. You end up going mostly on personality and how angry each candidate’s core base is likely to be at them if they tried any power grabs. Rand Paul’s your safest bet not to extend executive authority, I think, followed (to a lesser extent) by Ted Cruz since both depend so much on their small-government, libertarian credibility. Beyond that it’s mostly a guessing game, but in Christie’s case, I don’t think that’s a hard guess: His political brand is the strong, no-nonsense guy who’s going to get things done whether his opponents like it or not, which suggests he’d be quite comfortable building on O’s executive precedents. If that sounds good to you in the next president, well, that makes one of us.

In fact, speaking of strength and doing things whether his opponents agree or not, check out what he says here about Syria. Not only would he impose a no-fly zone, he insists, he’d dial Putin up and practically dare him to violate it. That’s pure looney tunes given how little interest the U.S. has at this point in who ultimately prevails in Syria. It’s risking World War III for no better reason than establishing that President Christie’s a tough guy. And interestingly, despite the comparisons between them as brusque New-York-area tough guys bent on shaking up D.C., Trump is starkly different from — and wiser than — Christie on this point. We’re in a weird place when he’s the voice of reason on this subject vis-a-vis a two-term governor, but oh well.

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Jazz Shaw 5:31 PM on February 04, 2023