Chris Christie’s speech last night has produced a schism on the airwaves. Whereas conservative talkers from Rush Limbaugh to Sean Hannity would previously fawn over Christie’s every YouTube moment, and Glenn Beck would even go so far as to label audio of the New Jersey Governor taking on opponents as “common sense porn,” now the discussion on the AM dial has suddenly become more subdued.
In a publicity blitz that would make any other GOP candidate feel lightheaded, Christie’s speech figured prominently on the shows of three major daytime talk show hosts – Glenn Beck, Laura Ingraham and Rush Limbaugh. Ingraham even used clips of the speech to punctuate segments of her show as a sort of mocking rebuttal to other quotes by President Obama, and as of now, a clip of Christie sits on Ingraham’s site as “Video of the Day.”
But while all three praised the speech, not all of them did so unreservedly, or seemed excited by the prospect of Christie getting in the Presidential race. Glenn Beck, whose praise for the New Jersey Governor has often verged on fannish, said that even though he liked the speech, he was fine with Christie not getting in the race.
“If Chris Christie doesn’t feel called now, it means that there’s something else that he’s supposed to do. I don’t know what it is. And it might be something that none of us ever see. But it is important. We’ve all been sent with a task. We’re all supposed to do that task. I hope he’s living his life in such a way that he can hear it and be clear because many of us won’t be clear enough and we will miss our task. And somebody else will do it, but it was your job. It was your job,” Beck said.
But the most striking dissent came from Rush Limbaugh, who accused Christie of being a creation of the Republican establishment, designed to stop conservatives like Herman Cain, Rick Perry or Michele Bachmann from winning the election.
“You know what Reagan’s definition of ‘compromise’ was? ‘We win; they lose,’” Limbaugh thundered. “I just heard way too much talk of ‘bipartisanship’ and ‘compromise’ in Governor Christie’s speech last night to make me comfortable. Obamacare, spending, debt, taxes, tell me where is the compromise with the Democrats on any of those?”
The reason for this split is clear: Ingraham and Beck like Christie because he says the right things. Limbaugh dislikes him because he keeps the wrong company. It is a classic conflict between ideas and identity politics.