The Atlantic jumps on the same bandwagon as New York magazine. It almost makes me wonder whether there really is some chance that Christie might run, so eager is the opposition to be ever-so-helpful in pointing out to the right why his stances are heresies.
Heresies is an interesting word, is it not? It encapsulates so much: the idea of politics as religion, for example. The left likes to assert it’s the right that thinks that way, and that it’s the left that’s really the fact-based, reality-based community. But it doesn’t take much study of the left to observe its quasi-religious nature, and how it deals with apostates (as I’ve learned from bitter experience as the latter).
Oh, and what are Christie’s heresies anyway, as expressed in last night’s speech at the Reagan library (the mother church, as it were), according to the article’s author Conor Friedersdorf? These four:
(1) Compromise is core to politics, a necessary characteristic of good leadership, and the only way to solve problems…
(2) American exceptionalism isn’t a natural state of being or an inheritance — it is something to which we aspire, and we’re presently falling short…
(3) Americans should care what foreigners think of us…
(4) Americans cannot remake the world in our image through force.
To further eludicate Christie’s “heresies,” Friedersdorf fleshes them out from Christie’s speech in ways that make it clear that they’re mostly well within the mainstream of conservative thought. For example, for number 4, he quotes Christie as saying, “We need to limit ourselves overseas to what is in our national interest so that we can rebuild the foundations of American power here at home – foundations that need to be rebuilt in part so that we can sustain a leadership role in the world for decades to come.” When I last checked, that would be an excellent example of a conservative foreign policy principle, one to which even neocons would heartily subscribe. It just depends on what the definition of “in our national interest” is.
As for American exceptionalism, all you need do is to check out the text of Christie’s speech and you’ll find nothing about exceptionalism that should rile a conservative. Christie makes it clear that American exceptionalism is many things—a tradition and a vision that must continually be demonstrated by deeds. His point is that we can’t rest on our exceptionalist laurels:
That is American exceptionalism. Not a punch line in a political speech, but a vision followed by a set of principled actions that made us the envy of the world. Not a re-election strategy, but an American revitalization strategy.
How very controversial.
It’s all moot, anyway, because IMHO Christie’s not running in 2012.