What Gov. Christie gives his audiences is the performance of a gifted federal attorney, which he was in New Jersey for six years. Prosecutors master facts and fashion them into a case for their side. No one in politics today matches facts to plain speaking better than Chris Christie. But with this stillborn presidential draft, Mr. Christie was being asked to perform without half his skill set, his mastery of facts.
When Mr. Christie said he wasn’t ready, he didn’t mean he wasn’t ready to be president. He meant he wasn’t ready to argue the case in front of a national jury. If Chris Christie knew as much as Paul Ryan does about entitlements, ObamaCare, the details of the U.S. budget and federal tax policy, he’d have rolled over the incumbent like a (insert your heavyweight metaphor here).
But Mr. Christie didn’t know enough about any of these national subjects, and in his first public events and debates it would have shown, as it has for the race’s other fully employed governor, Rick Perry. And when he didn’t perform the impossible miracle of downloading Paul Ryan’s brain for next week’s debate, the blogosphere and the conservative base would have whined disappointment. That in turn would have fed into a media narrative of another failed Republican high-flyer. The polls would mark him down, and the insatiable GOP beast would have gone back to prowling the streets for their next expendable leader.