What Clinton had that Christie evidently lacks is a well-thought-out approach to his party’s predicament. Clinton had a new governing philosophy, embodied in the Democratic Leadership Council and its associated think tank, and expressed in a raft of new policy proposals. Chris Christie has an affect and a style of governance, plus a resounding victory over Barbara Buono.
If Christie’s message to the GOP is merely that it should look to what he did in the Garden State and be as wonderfully unifying as he is, it deserves to flop. It could come off as boastful and hectoring, and about as original as the average political discussion on NPR. Coupled with his various departures from conservative orthodoxy, it could be toxic.
For Christie to capitalize on the opportunity he has created for himself, he will need a conservative reform agenda. He should pick up the phone and call (202) 224-5444. That is Sen. Mike Lee’s office number. The Utah Republican is doing more than anyone else at the moment to forge a new middle-class-oriented platform for the party, and he sketched its outlines in an important talk at The Heritage Foundation last week.