The summer of GOP discontent

Recent days have marked major moves to recruit new candidates to the 2012 GOP presidential field. Today, for example, Iowa bigwigs met with New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie to try convince him to run for president. A DC-area communications investor and Nevada lawyer recently launched, a website that aims to prompt House Budget Committee Chairman Paul Ryan to run for president.

On one level, it makes sense. These men would, after all, bring executive effectiveness and intellectual heft to the primaries. Both are matter-of-fact articulators of difficult messages. They’d be great on a debate stage. Plus, similar past efforts to enlist new candidates have proved effective. Texas Gov. Rick Perry had no professed interest in the GOP presidential nomination — and then he did. And didn’t help Sarah Palin’s rise to prominence in 2008?

But on another level, I sort of just want to say: Leave Christie and Ryan alone. To me, part of their appeal is that I can take them at their word. If they flip on this — if either decides to run when he’s said he won’t (Christie especially, as his opposition has been far more forcefully stated) — they’ll lose a little of that appeal. A reputation for honesty is rare and wonderful in the world of politics: Why would anyone want Christie or Ryan to give that up?