Paris was for all Americans, but especially for Republicans, a summons to seriousness that should have two immediate impacts on the Republican presidential contest. It should awaken the party’s nominating electorate from its reveries about treating the presidency as an entry-level job. And it should cause Republicans to take another look at Chris Christie, beginning with his speech in Florida the day after the Paris attacks.
Until now, many Republicans have been treating the nominating process as a mechanism for sending a message to Washington. The eruption of war in the capital of a NATO ally is a reminder that the nominating process will potentially send a commander in chief to Washington. This might, and should, hasten the eclipse of Carly Fiorina, Ben Carson and especially Donald Trump. His coarse, vulgar and nasty 95-minute effusion last week in Fort Dodge, Iowa, answered this question: When he begins to fade, will he draw upon a hitherto well-hidden capacity for graciousness, or will he become a caricature of his normal persona, which itself is a caricature of democracy’s most embarrassing possibilities?