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Chris Christie: The GOP's Next Crummy Presidential Nominee?

It's now clear in retrospect that the governor didn't care about what he was doing to Romney's campaign, and exploited Sandy to drive up his in-state approval ratings. Why? Christie is up for reelection this fall, and needed high poll numbers to persuade credible challengers like Newark Mayor Cory Booker to stand down.

Now that he's in command, Christie clearly thinks it's more important to avoid alienating Democrats who worship at the altar of Dear Leader than it is to note that Obama's promises were nothing but empty, substance-free platitudes, and to personally demand that Obama himself make the situation change. On Tuesday, he should have used his "special brand of love and affection" on Obama for the government's Sandy failure, not because of politics, but because it is a fact, and because Obama guaranteed it wouldn't happen. Instead, he dumped the task of getting the federal government to do its job on his state's congressional delegation. What a joke.

Christie is obviously trying to achieve an electoral rout in the governor's race nine months from now to create momentum for a 2016 presidential run. I've got a better idea, Chris: Work on your state's economy. It stinks.

Christie deserves credit for balancing New Jersey's budget without a tax increase, reining in the public-sector unions a bit, and keeping his state from going the way of California and Illinois. Though those are not minor accomplishments, that about completes his list of positives. At the time he achieved his supposedly seminal triumph, I was a bit surprised that the state's unions didn't go into protest overdrive as they did in Wisconsin. Now I think I understand why. The governor appears to have lost whatever interest he might have had in fundamental, long-term government reform. Democrats can simply wait out his departure and get back to their old tricks if (more likely when) they reclaim the governor's mansion in 2017.

New Jersey's unemployment rate was a seasonally adjusted 9.6 percent in December, exceeding the national average by almost two points. (The rate was 9.8 percent just before Sandy, so spare me the weather-related excuses.) Though his term as governor began six months after the recession's official end, the state's economy has only added a seasonally adjusted 60,000 jobs in three years. The Tax Foundation rates New Jersey's business climate as second worst in the nation. After eight years (we hope) of Barack Obama, the last thing America will need in 2016 is a guy who is only adept at extending malaise.

Despite Barack Obama gaining 8 million fewer votes in 2012 than he did in 2008, Mitt Romney failed to win the presidency because he got 1.4 million fewer votes than John McCain did four years earlier. I fully expect that Chris Christie, if nominated, will underperform Romney, condemning us to yet another four years of ever-increasing statism and making the nation's return from the brink of ruin virtually if not totally impossible.

Surely we can do better than Chris Christie, the Garden State Grandstander.

(Thumbnail on PJM homepage based on a modified L.E.Mormile / Shutterstock.com image.)