I’m torn between thinking this is a remarkably deft answer, especially off the cuff, on a difficult subject and thinking he’s leaving himself too exposed to counterattacks from the left by pushing it. On the one hand, and ironically, it reminds me of something his nemesis Rand Paul would say insofar as it frames a libertarian-ish position in socially conservative terms. Christie’s not for legalizing drugs but he does think prison is wildly overused vis-a-vis treatment. He’s called before, flatly, for ending the war on drugs. That’s not a mainstream opinion on the right but, he thinks, maybe he can help make it one by framing it as a subset of the pro-life movement. Some religious conservative groups have been willing to break from GOP orthodoxy on other social issues — prison reform, for instance, and of course immigration — so why not give them an opening on this too? It’s a clever way for Christie to protect his right flank, defending one of his more left-ish positions by claiming it’s an outgrowth of his commitment to a conservative stance on abortion.
On the other hand, liberals have been using this line, that the GOP is pro-life only up to the moment of birth, to smack conservatives for ages. I remember George Carlin even doing a bit on it at least 20 years ago. It popped up during the ObamaCare debate: Why do “pro-life” people oppose expanding medical coverage to the uninsured knowing that it’ll save lives? (Christie, who agreed to a “small” expansion of Medicaid in Jersey under O-Care, might even agree!) You could, if you like, easily justify any other form of welfare-state expansion in similar terms. If you’re pro-life, you must be pro-unemployment-insurance and certainly pro-food-stamps under all circumstances, and lord knows you’re pro-Medicare no matter what that means budget-wise. At the very least, having floated this as a sort of guiding principle in his policy preferences, lefties can make him defend his entire record in the same terms. And so, of course, can Paul. Christie’s expected to be the hawks’ champion if/when he runs in 2016. What do you think the more dovish Paul will do with his idea that conservatives need to be “pro-life” in all respects?
Exit question: Isn’t this guy … pro-death-penalty?