The Slatest

The Dream of the George W. Bush Presidency Is Alive in Chris Christie

Republican presidential candidate New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie speaks on Nov. 14, 2015, in Orlando, Florida. 

Photo by Joe Raedle/Getty Images

There is a fourth Bush running for president now, and his name is Chris Christie. How did this happen? Perhaps the Bush family, while migrating from Connecticut to Texas, left young Christopher behind at a New Jersey rest stop and never bothered to return and pick him up.

Since the Paris attacks, Christie sounds more like a George W. Bush–era Republican than even Jeb Bush, and Jeb Bush sounds exactly like a George W. Bush–era Republican. Christie’s speech at the Republican Jewish Coalition candidates’ forum Thursday was straight out of the 2004 presidential cycle. We are, per Christie, all going to die, and soon. Deeply granular descriptions of 9/11, 9/11, and 9/11 are littered everywhere. All that matters is feeling comfortable while we sleep at night, and only Chris Christie will keep us safe.

“The fact is, that America today is weaker and less prepared to protect our citizens than we were seven years ago,” he began. He said he’d “like to blame all of this on Barack Obama”—eliciting a smattering of applause—“but we have had Republicans who are complicit in this weakening as well. We’ve had Republicans who stood on this stage today, and said they were for a strong America, and voted this summer in Congress to weaken America.” Here he’s referring to the USA Freedom Act, for which Ted Cruz voted. “[They] voted to take away tools from our intelligence community that permits us to be able to connect the dots,” he continued, “and do what President George W. Bush instructed me and the other 93 U.S. attorneys, in January of 2002, to do everything we could do under the law to make sure that not another American life was lost to a terrorist act on American soil.”

Speaking of terrorism! “As we stand here today, for the first time since 9/11, I think we are going to have to confront the loss of American life on American soil to terrorist conduct.” (This is not at all correct: the anthrax attacks, the Boston bombings, Fort Hood. Some would say the Planned Parenthood shootings just last week. Or any of the other daily shootings.) “Let me tell you as a former prosecutor, as I began to watch the event unfold last night: I am convinced that was a terrorist attack.” And the rest of us are next: “If a center for the developmentally disabled in San Bernardino, California can be a target for a terrorist attack, then every place in America is a target for a terrorist attack.

“We need to come to grips with the idea that we are in the midst of the next world war.”

Christie then launched into a five-minute retelling of what he, his family, his friends, and his neighbors were doing on Sept. 11, 2001.

“I look forward to the opportunity,” he concluded, “to put together the team that will protect America once again. That will make the American people feel comfortable when they go to bed at night, that they have a president who will put their country first, and their safety and security above all else.”

And one more thing: 9/11. “I just want you to remember the week after 9/11, when airlines weren’t flying, when sports weren’t being played by professionals or by our children, when the stock markets were closed, and when we all jerked our necks up to the sky every time a plane started to go overhead when those airplanes started flying again.”

You’re either with Chris Christie or you’re against him.