Peggy Noonan uses today's column to try to talk Mitt Ronney out of running for president again -- but first she recounts a conversation she had at a Republican retreat in Hershey, Pennsylvania, with an elected official whose identity she carefully conceals:
A conversation with a Republican governor who is a possible presidential aspirant:
... to the governor I said, in a world in which foreign affairs continue to be more important than ever, in a dangerous world with which we have ever more dealings, shouldn’t we be thinking about senators for the presidency, and not governors?
He listened closely, nodded, then shook his head. No, he said, governors still have the advantage. Why? Because foreign policy still comes down, always, to your gut, your instincts. And your instincts are sharpened by the kind of experience you get as a chief executive in a statehouse, which is constant negotiation with antagonists who have built-in power bases. You learn what works from success and failure with entrenched powers that can undo you, from unions to local pressure groups to unreliable allies. Being a governor is about handling real and discernible power. A governor can learn what a senator knows more easily than a senator can learn what a governor knows.
Gosh, I can't imagine who that extremely anonymous governor with presidential aspirations could be.
You don't suppose it's this guy, do you?
Gov. Chris Christie has little doubt about it: The next president of the United States will be a governor.
The governor ... said “the American people are done with that experiment” of having people who served in Congress moving into the White House....
“We’re better at it,” responded Christie when asked if he thought the next president would be a governor. “I do.”
Christie, speaking at an annual Republican Governors Association conference alongside fellow GOP executives, argued governors have experience “running large enterprises.”
Noonan says the anonymous governor told her that "foreign policy still comes down, always, to your gut, your instincts." Why, that reminds me of an anecdote that appeared in Collision 2012, Dan Balz's book about the 2012 campaign:
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Christie ... hardly needs prodding to talk about how many “unsolicited phone calls” came in asking him to run [for president in 2012].... He told [Henry] Kissinger that he honestly didn’t think he could run yet.
“I haven’t given any deep thought to foreign policy,” Christie admitted.
“Don’t worry about that,” said Kissinger, according to Christie. “We can work with you on that. Foreign policy is instinct, it’s character, that’s what foreign policy is.”
And the bit about dealing with "entrenched powers that can undo you" sure sounds like Christie, although the lace-curtain-Irish prose of Noonan's paraphrase is probably a pale version of what Christie actually said, which I'm sure had a lot more Mario Puzo in it.
So, Peggy, don't bother. We know who your source is.
Crossposted at No More Mr. Nice Blog