Roger Simon: Christie is (politically) nimbler than you thinkROGER SIMON
January 25. 2014 2:10AM
Chris Christie's master plan is working. By making himself totally intolerable to Democrats, he is making himself somewhat acceptable to Republicans.
A variety of Democratic mayors in New Jersey are now howling at Christie for being a bully and a creep.
This is music to his ears.
Christie, the Republican governor of New Jersey, wants to be the Republican nominee for President in 2016. But in the past, he has cooperated with Democrats and even rubbed shoulders with Barack Obama.
This has helped Christie in the very early, largely worthless public opinion polls, but it has hurt him with influential Republicans.
Republican fat cats wonder why they should bundle big dollars for Christie. Once elected, he could squander their tax dollars on things like feeding the hungry and housing the homeless.
And ideological "movement" Republicans are tired of nominating candidates who slide to the left in order to get elected, but then don't get elected. This time, they want a far-right fire breather who will, at the very least, feed their sense of martyrdom.
Christie has found a solution: He will get Democrats to hate him. He will get liberal talk show hosts to hate him. He will get left-wing bloggers to hate him.
Then he will go to the Republican big shots and say, "Hey, if these goons hate me, how bad could I be?"
The only flaw in his plan is that it is difficult to campaign for President from prison. Or while under indictment. Or even while under serious investigation.
So Christie must be nimble. No, not physically. Physically, he is about as nimble as a Macy's Thanksgiving float.
He must be nimble politically. Which, actually, he is.
Take his performance Sunday at the posh seaside abode of Home Depot co-founder Kenneth Langone, at what was billed as a "meet-and-greet with party donors" in North Palm Beach, Fla.
Christie was asked when his current controversies might subside, and according to Politico, he replied, "I don't know."
He also was asked by the deep-pocket crowd whether Social Security and other entitlement programs need to be means-tested. Millionaires and billionaires worry a great deal that middle-class Americans will get a dollar of Social Security they don't really need and will waste it on a thing like their retirement or birthday cards for their grandchildren.
According to Langone, Christie said he is "absolutely" for means-testing.
OK, so that was two boxes checked; Democrats might continue to hound him, but he will stay loyal to his principles and, for example, pander to wealthy donors.
But what if his current problems deepen and he has to occupy his time with depositions and testimony and producing years of records?
Well, that was his best answer of all.
Christie claimed that all 65,000 state government workers in New Jersey have "access to the governor's stationery," so there always has been the risk that somebody could do something "stupid."
Did I say nimble? Chris Christie could run across the keyboard of a piano without making a sound.
Look at what his defense could be if some investigator were to turn up a letter from the governor's office that implicates Christie in wrongdoing.
"Hey," Christie could say, "that wasn't me. That was any of the 65,000 employees of New Jersey, who are issued my personal stationery on their first day of work — along with their 'At Least We're Not Delaware' T-shirts."
His statement at Langone's bash continued the theme Christie sounded in his Jan. 9 news conference, in which he said, "I have 65,000 people working for me every day. And I cannot know what each one of them is doing at every minute."
They may be shutting down bridges. They may be threatening mayors. They may be stuffing large quantities of money into canvas sacks.
How is Christie supposed to know? He is only the governor, not the state's chief executive. Well, actually, he is the state's chief executive. But now he's got all this stationery to keep track of.
Even if each state employee were issued just one ream, that would mean Christie would have to keep his eye on 32.5 million sheets of paper. It's unfair.
"In a government of 65,000 people, there are going to be times when mistakes are made," Christie said in his news conference. "Mistakes were made."
Bridges were blocked. Traffic studies were faked. Reputations were ruined. But Christie was doing his job battling for the people of New Jersey, just as he will battle for the people of the United States if he is nominated and elected President.
And if he is elected, some people may not get their Social Security and other entitlements. But he can absolutely guarantee they will get his stationery.
Roger Simon is Politico's chief political columnist. His new e-book, "Reckoning: Campaign 2012 and the Fight for the Soul of America," can be found on Amazon.com, BN.com and iTunes.