It’s hard to recall a former politician who was showered with more free media attention than Chris Christie this month as he peddled his new book, “Republican Rescue.” ... CNN even dedicated an entire primetime hour to him....After that embarrassing misread of public sentiment, has the mainstream media gotten the point about the nature of the contemporary GOP? Nope. Today we get Peter Nicholas writing this for The Atlantic:
Consumers aren’t buying it.
A senior publishing source with access to the industry’s BookScan tabulations tells me that “Republican Rescue” sold just 2,289 copies during its first week in stores, which constitutes a colossal publishing flop....
In comparison to Christie’s 2,000 copies debacle, Jonathan Karl’s new book “Betrayal: The Final Act of the Trump Show,” sold 24,000 hardcover copies the same week as the Christie failure. How Christie was able to sell so few books after lining up so much national media attention during his marketing roll-out — “This Week” and “The View,” “Fox & Friends,” along with Fox News, Fox Business, the Daily Show, HBO twice, and CNBC — represents an extraordinary disconnect.
It confirms that the deeply unpopular former New Jersey governor remains, first and foremost, a media creation.
Pence 2024?To his credit, Nicholas is skeptical:
If Donald Trump officially enters the next presidential race, that doesn’t mean his former vice president will stay out of the contest.
... Pence is eyeing a presidential run of his own, even though his old boss hasn’t ruled out a 2024 campaign. Pence wouldn’t necessarily stay out of the race even if Trump jumps in.
“If you know the Pences, you know they’ll always try to discern where they’re being called to serve,” Marc Short, Pence’s former chief of staff, told me.
A 2024 Pence campaign looks futile no matter the scenario. If Trump runs, he’ll rally the same MAGA zealots who refuse to believe he lost the last election. And if Trump opts out, Pence isn’t his natural successor; he may have spoiled any hope of inheriting the Republican base when he defied Trump on January 6.Nicholas thinks Pence is a longshor, but ... he believes Pence may have spoiled hopes of inheriting the party's base? Really? Ya think?
Nicholas tells us that "GOP operatives [are] asking a version of the same question: What in the world is Mike Pence thinking?" I'll tell you what Pence is thinking and why he's thinking it: He's thinking that his party is going to come to its senses and rally around a pre-MAGA style of candidate, probably because the mainstream media keeps saying that could really happen. The fawning over Christie is one example. So is punditry like this:
A cold-eyed political calculus suggests that 2024 would be Pence’s best and maybe last real shot. He’ll be 65 by the next inauguration, and fresher faces are emerging in Republican politics, notably Glenn Youngkin, the incoming Virginia governor who won a state that Biden had captured a year ago by 10 points. “Someone like Glenn Youngkin is the future,” Sarah Chamberlain, the president of the Republican Main Street Partnership, a group that promotes centrist policies, told me. “He would be a wonderful presidential candidate.”Youngkin would be a credible GOP presidential candidate if his party's voters didn't demand supersized portions of red meat whenever it's available; they accepted the leaner cuisine of his run in Virginia because it's what party strategists thought was necessary for a win (and he still race-baited his way to victory). GOP voters won't accept Demagoguery Lite in the 2024 primaries -- not if Ron DeSantis, Donald Trump Jr., Ted Cruz, Mike Flynn, or Mike Lindell decides to run in the absence of Trump Sr.
Even as Nicholas casts doubt on Pence's chances, he makes clear that he really doesn't get it:
Whatever Trump’s future, for Pence to be competitive in a Republican presidential primary race, he’d need to assemble a coalition of fellow evangelical Christians, cultural conservatives, and a chunk of mainstream Republicans who appreciate that he upheld Biden’s victory."A chunk of mainstream Republicans who appreciate that [Pence] upheld Biden’s victory"? Dude, there are no such Republicans -- not in the electorate. There are professional Never Trump Republicans, but there are no non-professional Never Trump Republicans.
Nicholas quotes something Pence said recently on his podcast about the aftermath of 9/11:
“I will tell you, on that day and in the weeks and months that followed, there were no Republicans in Washington, D.C.,” Pence tells his listeners. “There were no Democrats in Washington, D.C. It was just Americans...."But Republican voters simply don't believe Democrats can be Americans. If Pence is still talking this way, and he's really running, he's setting himself up for a worse ass-kicking than Jeb Bush got in 2016.