Speculation is rampant as to whether New Jersey Governor Chris Christie will enter the 2012 Republican presidential primary. Almost all the media focus thus far has been on political calculations, such as Christie’s ability to raise money, put together a national campaign organization, and withstand the rigors of the race.
For the most part, however, pundits are ignoring the most important consideration of all: Is Christie actually ready to be President of the United States?
The Washington Examiner’s Byron York, to his credit, did the math and points out that on October 10, 2011, Christie will have been governor for 629, whereas when Barack Obama announced his presidential candidacy on February 10, 2007, he had served as a U.S. senator for 768 days. On the other hand, it is not the tenure of service in public office that should concern voters, but rather the quality of that service, regardless of its length. Christie’s New Jersey administration has been marked by balanced budgets and other impressive accomplishments in fiscal responsibility, such as comprehensive pension reform, in contrast with the thin record of accomplishment in the Senate on the part of then-candidate Barack Obama.
Notably, the governor also took a principled stand on his appointment of a Muslim-American judge despite criticism from Islamaphobes, earning a standing ovation from the staff of MSNBC show host Lawrence O’Donnell, of all people.
Furthermore, Christie previously served as a U.S. Attorney for seven years and successfully tackled political corruption on the part of both Democrats and Republicans, having amassed, according to the New Jersey Star-Ledger, “an amazing record of 130 convictions against zero acquittals for the public officials he indicted.”
Christie himself has been refreshingly honest about his preparedness for the presidency, stating on multiple occasions that he feels like he may not be ready. This self-awareness indicates both a willingness and determination on Christie’s part to address his shortcomings. If the governor’s recent, excellent speech on the concept of American exceptionalism at the Reagan Library is any indication, he has already begun to vigorously study up on foreign policy.
Christie’s sentiment is also a marked contrast with other politicians – say, Sarah Palin – and another presidential contender, Herman Cain, who disingenuously claimed that running a pizza chain gave him insight into foreign policy and flat-out refused to discuss national security issues until after the election. In fact, Christie’s famous candor should itself be considered an important qualification for the presidency, all the more so in a time of national fiscal and economic crisis, when leaders and citizens alike have been reluctant to confront hard, unpopular truths. “Real leaders don’t read polls, they change polls,” as the governor declared during the question and answer session of his Reagan Library speech.
Chris Christie has been right on a great many things, but wrong on one. His record of accomplishment and rare character make him both ready and well-suited to be president.