Editorial: Be wary of Christie run, but welcome potential to challenge truisms

Editorial Board

If you don’t know who Chris Christie is, you’re not alone. The source of the current governor of New Jersey’s fame mainly comes from Republican Party members who continue urging him to run for president. Should he do so, he would join a chaotic, freewheeling field of Republican primary candidates that already has seen 10 declared candidates.

The efforts of the Republican operatives are somewhat reminiscent of the way Iowa’s current governor, Terry Branstad, came to office after a 12-year hiatus. The Draft Branstad movement, which led to his entry into the Republican primary for governor, diverted support from candidates such at former Iowa Speaker of the House Christopher Rants and state Rep. Rod Roberts.

The same kind of effort to draft Chris Christie into running for president seems to be underway. But most of that discussion seems to be focused on persuading him to run for president. Granted, running for president is a necessary preliminary to being president, but it seems to us that little of the discussion deals with whether he possesses any qualities that would make a good president.

Christie has, in fact, refused to run for president. In response to innumerable and repeated queries, he has said that he is not and will not run for president. He often points to his lack of qualifications for the job. His service as United States Attorney for the District of New Jersey and in his first term as governor of New Jersey have certainly been inspiring to many members of his party, but maybe they should listen to him when he says he’s unqualified.

Sometimes people don’t want to do jobs they’d be good at. Sometimes they’re mistaken about the true limits of their abilities and underestimate themselves. But experience is important; holding a variety of offices for a long time demonstrates a versatility necessary for the man who is to preside over the world’s most powerful country. One of President Barack Obama’s most-cited “faults” is his lack of experience.

Maybe he ought to run anyway. Holding elected office for only a few years does not necessarily mean the candidate will botch the new office he wins. President Lincoln had no executive experience before he became president.

Maybe a Christie run is what the Republican Party needs right now. Herman Cain, one of the candidates Christie would join, said a week ago that Christie is too liberal for Republicans, based on his previous actions toward immigration, assault weapons and global warming. Even if Christie is indeed wrong on those issues, having a candidate who challenges the others into explaining their beliefs, who challenges them into really evaluating the quality of their ideas, would do us all a great deal of good.