Thursday, January 9, 2014
Bridge Over Troubled Waters
What did Chris Christie know and when? Those appear to be the pressing questions for the New Jersey governor concerning what is now being called "Bridge-Gate." Michael Tomasky is right. There are three possibilities: 1. He knew nothing; 2. He knew from the beginning, maybe even planned it; or 3. He learned about it afterwards and covered it up. Where I part company with Tomasky is that I'm not yet ready to admit that Christie is involved. Until we know all the details - and we probably won't until the Spring - I'm going to give him the benefit of the doubt here.
Yes, I know what that means. Chris Christie, control freak extraordinaire, was so completely out of the loop that he either was unaware that people in his administration were responsible for a stunt so sophomoric it might well have indirectly lead to a 91 year-old woman's death, or worse, he didn't want to know and chose to turn a deaf ear and blind eye to it. That's not much of a choice, I agree, but it's pretty much the only way Christie survives this.
Because anything other than willful ignorance or detached apathy pretty much ends not only his bid for the White House, but ostensibly his whole tenure as governor of New Jersey. Basically, it's out to lunch or shit out of luck. Pick your poison.
But there's more riding here than just the possible end of a political career. The GOP's hope of winning the presidency in 2016 rests on finding a candidate who can appeal to moderate and independent voters. Despite his dickishness, there is a certain charm about the guy that appeals to an awful lot of voters. His convincing reelection last year could be a harbinger of things to come for his party, providing a road map for electoral success. All that goes out the window if Christie goes up in flames. Forget Marco Rubio; he's damaged goods; Jeb Bush? No way in hell the country elects another Bush, even if he is the smart one in the family.
Christie's demise would consign the Republican Party to yet another parade of clowns like Rick Santorum, Rick Perry, etc...The Tea Party can boast all it wants about its principles, there is no electoral math for them that leads to 1600 Pennsylvania Avenue. Barring a yet as unforeseen scandal for the Dems (and, no, Benghazi will most definitely not be a scandal), whoever wins the nomination in 2016 will be the clear favorite. If it's Hillary, it could be a landslide.
The collateral damage of a Christie resignation will have long-lasting and profound implications for a good many people. Not since 1974 has a major elected official been embroiled in a such a quagmire. Only time will tell if he becomes the next Richard Nixon.