Christie came to CPAC with nothing to offer conservatives

Both of those rationales are now out the window. (As is the underlying premise of the electability argument, which he would offer directly to more moderate Republicans and to general election voters—that he knows how to create bipartisan bonhomie with elected Democrats. That claim looks suspect in light of the experience of New Jersey officials like the mayor of Fort Lee.)* The electability argument falls apart with every (admittedly premature) poll showing his Hillary matchup numbers in decline, not to mention the hit his standing has taken with party fundraisers and conventional wisdom–setting commentators. It is the deflation of the other asset, though, that was on display here Thursday. Christie can no longer hold a crowd—even a skeptical one—in thrall with the sheer force of his big personality because we now know all too much about what else the force of that big personality can do and inspire. His rhetorical browbeating of political enemies unavoidably brings to mind his less rhetorical attacks on foes. Not to mention that it’s hard to exude the snappy panache of a conquering hero—the Christie of 2012 and 2013—when you know your administration is under investigation by the very U.S. Attorney’s office that launched your own career…

That was going to be a hard case to make regardless, even for the demi-god who strode the Jersey shoreline comforting the afflicted and vowing resurrection. But it now seems an all but impossible case for the mere mortal who came to Washington today. With the voracious, crowd-pleasing, mythical beast caged, what does Christie offer? The likely Republican field already has an eviscerator of public-employee benefits, and he’s vastly more acceptable on the other issues. It already has someone willing to make a forceful case against Rand Paul anti-interventionists, and, unlike Christie, he is free to give full vent to his considerable rhetorical powers. What, exactly, does Chris Christie now offer?