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Dead on 

With Republicans mourning their dashed 2012 presidential hopes for New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, keep this in mind: He really had no chance of winning the nomination. If conservatives can turn Texas Gov. Rick Perry into a “liberal,” Christie would have been greeted as the second coming of Karl Marx.

Poor Rick Perry. After years of burnishing his credentials as a hard-right reactionary — even threatening secession after President Obama’s election — he has been undone by his insufficient hatred toward children of undocumented immigrants and his efforts to prevent teenaged girls from getting cervical cancer.

His commitment to transforming Texas into a minimum-wage, low-regulation paradise for exploitative industries while raging against the federal government (and quietly accepting $17.4 billion in stimulus funds) was for naught. His refusal to listen to science on global warming or evolution? Unrewarded. His steadfast opposition to the 16th and 17th amendments? Ignored! What’s more conservative than opposing the amendments that establish the income tax and direct election of U.S. senators?

Still, Rush Limbaugh, who once cheered Perry’s entrance into the race, has turned on the Texas governor, saying: “I know where this country is. I know what the people of this country want, and they don’t want John McCain Jr. They don’t want another moderate Republican to work with the other side.” Glenn Beck talks of the return of the “old Rick Perry” — the one who was a Democrat. Mark Steyn said Perry “has basically adopted the Democratic line now on the whole illegal-immigration issue.” Primary opponent Rick Santorum labeled him a “closet hippie.”

The polls haven’t been kind to Perry. A Fox News poll last week saw Perry slip to 19 percent support, compared to 29 percent three weeks earlier. Mitt Romney isn’t picking that support back up. He remains mired in the low 20s. The GOP primary electorate simply doesn’t like him.

The Republican establishment would be thrilled with Romney, but they aren’t sure he can survive the primary. Thus they continue to cast about for a mythical creature that can pass muster both with the Tea Party crowd as well as with establishment Republicans. Their desperation was reflected in their pursuit of Chris Christie. But what made them think that Christie could have pleased the Tea Party more than the decidedly conservative Perry?

After all, Christie believes “climate change is real” and that “human activity plays a role in these changes.” He has called for “an orderly process … for people to gain citizenship,” while opposing Arizona-style anti-immigrant laws. He believes that “[b]eing in this country without proper documentation is not a crime,” and labels xenophobic anti-immigration critics “demagogues” and “ill-informed.”

In response to the furor over the appointment of Sohail Mohammed, who is Muslim, to a New Jersey Superior Court, Christie minced no words regarding his some of his Tea Party critics. “It’s just crazy, and I’m tired of dealing with the crazies,” he said. “It’s just unnecessary to be accusing this guy of things just because of his religious background.” He’d need those very same “crazies” to vote for him to have secured the nomination.

In a world in which Perry is a “liberal,” that would have made Christie DOA in a matter of two more news cycles.

Moulitsas is the founder and publisher of Daily Kos.