In a debate 10 months from now, the Republican nominee will ask a variant of Reagan’s question: Is America safer or more respected today, anywhere in the world, than it was when Clinton became secretary of state? Today, Republican voters need to ask themselves a question: Whom do they want onstage asking that question? It is beyond peculiar, it is political malpractice for Republicans to fritter away time and attention on candidates who, innocent of governing experience, cannot plausibly ask that question with properly devastating effect.
For an example of pluperfect unseriousness, consider this Trump claim, which is amazingly absurd even considering the source: “I got to know [Putin] very well because we were both on ‘60 Minutes,’ we were stablemates, and we did very well that night.” They were not in the same stable; they were not in the same greenroom; they were not on the same continent. Trump was in a “60 Minutes” segment taped in Manhattan; Putin was in another segment, taped eight time zones away in Moscow. Yet somehow Trump “got to know him very well.”
Every day that such errant nonsense sloshes through the Republican nominating contest is a day when the party’s claim to represent what the country craves — adult supervision — becomes less credible. Fortunately, sufficient days remain for Republicans to reshuffle the deck, to relegate Trump’s rampaging to the nation’s mental attic, and to recognize in Christie a serious political talent.