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Ed Driscoll

John McCain, Chris Christie, Charlie Brown and the Football

January 20th, 2014 - 10:33 am

Past performance is no guarantee of future results:

“The Democrats and the media are now throwing everything they can at him, because they know he is the only guy that can beat Hillary,” said Robert Grand, a major fund-raiser for the party, who is based in Indiana.

Whatever the network’s motivation, it is a jarring change for the New Jersey governor, long the subject of warm and laudatory coverage from the network’s hosts.

Ms. Brzezinski called him “my friend,” her co-anchor Joe Scarborough called him “my main man,” and Chris Matthews referred to him, with the familiarity of a family member, as “the guy we like around here.”

Network figures have hailed him as a gutsy bipartisan hero and a role model for an obstructionist party in need of overhaul. (“I have some advice for all those Republicans trying to re-brand their party,” Al Sharpton said on his show last year. “Watch Chris Christie.”)

Off camera, the governor developed close ties to anchors like Ms. Brzezinski, even showing up at her book signing not long ago. Immediately after Mr. Christie concluded his apologetic news conference about the controversy last week, he spent 15 minutes on the phone with Ms. Brzezinski as he prepared to face Fort Lee, the small community crippled by gridlock from the lane closures, she said.

“For Christie and MSNBC, a Messy Divorce Plays Out in Public View,” the New York Times, yesterday.

A crucial turning point in the presidential race came when the McCain campaign ended its candidate’s habitual informal interactions with the press. The area of the McCain campaign plane where a couch had been installed so the Arizonian could hold court with journalists was cut off with a dark curtain, marking the end of an era.

Since 2000, John McCain had thrived on his irrepressible chattiness with the press, talking about anything reporters wanted for as long as they would listen. The press loved the access and avoided “gotcha” coverage, letting McCain explain any seeming gaffes. The arrangement worked beautifully for both sides — until McCain became the Republican presidential nominee.

Suddenly, he wasn’t afforded the same old courtesy from reporters, and he had to go about the grim business of driving a daily message. With the end of the running bull sessions, a trial separation began with the press that became a divorce that became a feud.

The enduring scandal of the McCain campaign is that it wants to win. The press had hoped for a harmless, nostalgic loser like Bob Dole in 1996. In a column excoriating Republicans for historically launching successful attacks against Democratic presidential candidates in August, Time columnist Joe Klein excepted Bob Dole — not mentioning that Dole had been eviscerated by Clinton negative ads before August ever arrived.

The press turned on McCain with a vengeance as soon as he mocked Barack Obama as a celebrity. Its mood grew still more foul when the McCain campaign took offense at Obama’s “lipstick on a pig” jab. “The media are getting mad,” according to Washington Post reporter Howard Kurtz. “Stop the madness,” urged Time’s Mark Halperin, exhorting his fellow journalists to fight back against the McCain campaign’s manufactured outrage.

—”McCain’s Scandal: The press has turned on McCain with a vengeance,” Rich Lowry, National Review, September 16, 2008.

It was fun for McCain and Christie to cultivate leftwing journalists, scoring brownie points with the press by shafting their fellow Republicans in the process. But when crunchtime comes, journalists will always support a Democrat for president; and part of that process means screwing their former “friend,” whether it’s John McCain, Chris Christie, Mitt Romney, or any other candidate with an (R) after his name.

Why don’t Republicans with aspirations for higher office ever seem to learn this lesson?

Related: “Four New Democrat Scandals the Kill-Christie Media’s Covering Up.”

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There are some interesting meta-stories going on in l'affaire Christie -

Foremost is the way Republicans from sea to shining sea have rallied to him in resounding and passionate displays of silence and indifference. Fact is, he could very well have treated Mr. Obama in a cool, but cordial and professional manner, one week before a crucial election when Republicans needed every possible effort, and he chose to do something else. Message: When crunch time was nigh, Chris Christie was very good at looking out for Chris Christie. Noted. By all.

Then, of course, what is discussed here: As one wag said, rule #1 for Republicans dealing with the media is - "The media hates you and wants you to die in a fire." If they act like they love you, it is because you are serving their interests in some manner, something that should give any GOP politician pause.

So, now, as that friendly-as-the-snake-in-the-Garden-of-Eden media piles on, with breathless reports now of totally unsubstantiated charges leveled by full-bore Dem operatives, let every Republican out there note how alone Governor Christie finds himself, having burned his own team, and now being roasted on a spit by those he naively thought were new friends. It may have been a Democrat who said it, but he was right: "The only thing in the middle of the road is a yellow line and dead armadillos".

"You knew what I was when you picked me up" said the snake.
13 weeks ago
13 weeks ago Link To Comment
Chris Christie has always be a lightweight (metaphorically) version of Rudy Giuliani, in that being across the river from the center of the liberal media, it was 'safe' for them to show a certain liking of his pugnacious nature, since it was directed at all sides (Giuliani, in contrast, faced far more venom from the liberal media right off the bat and through his terms for usurping Democratic power in 'their' city, and worse, proving everything they had been saying about the ungovernableness of NYC wrong). But as with McCain -- who earned a bit of media support simply because they (at least in 20-25 years ago) didn't feel comfortable with trashing a Vietnam POW -- Christi mistook the big media types not thinking of him as a typical evil Republican with no redeeming qualities as the big media actually being willing to give him fair treatment when crunch time arrived.

Christie's treatment right now is pretty much what Giuliani endured for most of his two term in office across the river, with the mayor and governor sharing roughly the same personality traits (New York's turnaround from 1994 to 1997 was so obvious even The New York Times couldn't spin for Ruth Messinger in the '97 election, but the long knives were out throughout his second term and even through the prostate cancer scare that caused him to back out of a run against Hillary in 2000. He only got a reprieve in 2001 because of his handling of 9/11's aftermath). The same media types that couldn't stand a Republican running their city were situationally OK with one running the state across the river, as long as he jabbed his own party in McCain-like fashion more than he did any Democrats they actually cared about (browbeating New Jersey Democratic elected officials not named Corey Booker doesn't count, because in the media's eyes, they're just New Jersey pols).

However, while you'd think this would open Christie's eyes going forward, don't count on it -- McCain after his 2008 defeat decided he'd rather remain in the public spotlight than be kicked off the Sunday morning shows' speed dial by treating the big media the way they treated him and pretty much went back to being the pre-election Maverick, other than when it came time for re-election in 2010. Christie may decided the same thing -- he'd rather try to win the media back over the next 18 months because he can only win the GOP nomination by being the media's darling. And if they turn on him again, he'll either deal with that later or try to convince himself that this time it will be different.
13 weeks ago
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