New Jersey governor Chris Christie showed up on Letterman last night, and had people rolling in the aisles with fat jokes, including a hilarious gag with a donut.
He’s dead to some conservatives because of his eleventh-hour embrace of Obama following Hurricane Sandy, and there have been more than a few grumbles about his lackluster Republican National Convention appearance – which he claimed to have been working on feverishly right up until the hour of his appearance, but which was curiously light on negative references to Barack Obama, or even positive mention of Mitt Romney. We all know Christie is much too politically savvy to have any illusions about the devastating political effect of Romney’s top surrogate filling the airwaves with tearful praise of Obama’s magnificent leadership just a few days before the election. There’s not much question he was abandoning ship; the only real question is how much he was ever on board.
But ire at Christie for his role in 2012 should not obscure his strengths, and those strengths may prove very appealing to a 2016 Republican electorate that has largely forgotten about the previous campaign, as it conducts the typical GOP ritual search for the most “electable” candidate. A guy who can pull soaring approval numbers in a blue state, and charm David Letterman’s audience, is going to look mighty electable. And he’ll enjoy some inoculation against the most savage Democrat attacks. He won’t be another John McCain, dumbstruck as his old pals in the press turn on him. He’ll be aggressively rolling four-year-old video of Obama praising him, and loudly wondering what sort of rabid off-the-hook left-wing extremist could possibly think Barack Obama’s old beach buddy was a right-wing extremist.
Some of the more severe conservative candidates can show you fiscal terror in a handful of dust. Chris Christie can show you electability in a handful of donut.