I should be fair. It’s not simply Karl Rove, but the whole GOP establishment class(which George Will says doesn’t exist,) demonstrating this double-standard in media punditry. Despite her impertinence in other respects, at least S.E. Cupp included Christie in her demanding article of Friday, but I’m beginning to wonder if all of the attention on Christie isn’t intended for another purpose. While it’s difficult to stomach the hypocrisy of those who have argued that it’s too late for a Palin entry, saying precious little about a prospective Christie entry in the same context, this could be a media phenomenon with another purpose entirely. What if by holding forth all of this Christie speculation, the GOP establishment is trying to accomplish something else entirely? What could that be? With the sudden spectacle of an accelerated primary calendar, we must consider what else may be afoot.
The Bush people are still strong in Florida, much as they remain in Texas. The recent move of Florida’s GOP primary to January was done with the advice and blessing of the GOP establishment there. This is widely seen as a way to prop up Romney, and to lessen the impact of insurgents, particularly of the Tea Party stripe. It may also be a manner in which to eliminate down-ballot challengers in what otherwise would have been hotly-contested congressional primaries.
The GOP establishment understands that if they are to have their guy, they probably will need to go with Mitt. They may view him as imperfect to their ends, but he’s close enough, and they think he can win a general election against Obama (if there is one.) What moving the primaries up does to candidates is to shorten the time they have to grab mind-share in the electorate. At present, Romney is probably the clear front-runner, and to kill off any insurgents will require them to get this over with quickly.
At the same time, Christie may be used as a delaying tactic. If they can cause Palin to hold of just a while longer in entering, assuming she will, then the longer she holds off, the narrower her window will be, particularly in light of this accelerated schedule. For reasons we’ve discussed at length, there are many good reasons for Palin to hold off in the conventional schedule, and the GOP establishment knows this which is why they spent the entirety of the spring and summer trying to goad her into an earlier entry, to which they would have responded with a Christie or Daniels or even Jeb Bush.
With Romney now having withstood a serious challenge for the top spot by Rick Perry, they’ve come back around to the realities which may mean that they’re left with Romney as their best remaining bet. Don’t be surprised that after another week of speculation, Christie comes out and says “Well, it’s just way too late now folks.” This will then be used as a way to hammer Palin if she enters thereafter, so as to attack her with their continuing meme of sabotage. Of course, she’ll quickly overcome that narrative, and the establishment knows it too, which is why they’ve hurried up the primary schedule: They will try to knock Palin out by depriving her of the time she needs to carry the ball all the way down the field in time to score. I believe this underestimates Palin’s appeal by a fair margin, and it may be the establishment’s last available timing-based play to keep her from the nomination if she chooses to pursue it.
If she gets in before Christie swears off his own entry, he might not demur at all, leaping in behind her, saying that while he thought it’s too late, if Palin can make a go of it, so can he. What all of this may boil down to is an attempt by the establishment to wrest control of the timing card from Palin. They’re trying to place Christie into the position she has occupied all these months, and the willing media, particularly FoxNews, is willing to go along. The liberal press will go for anything that creates turmoil in the GOP, particularly between the establishment and the base, so they’re along for their part in this whole thing.
As I suspected, it will come down to careful timing, and as I believe based on previous instances, Governor Palin may be the master of this sort of thing. She has demonstrated very good instincts and this close to the end of the beginning, I don’t think she’s likely to make any missteps, thereby turning it into what the establishment hopes will bethe beginning of the end. Expect the unexpected, and be ready to roll.