As you have no doubt heard, New Jersey Governor and onetime Republican Presidential fantasy object Chris Christie had some bad publicity last week, owing to some apparently politically-motivated redirection of traffic in September that was ordered from the vicinity of his office (aka “Bridgegate” or “Bridge-gate” but let’s not, shall we? American politics is stupid enough as it is).
Some people think it’s bad news for the Governor, but we don’t. For one thing, as the rightblogger response shows, the turmoil has lifted Christie’s stock among the one constituency that he really needs to gain the Republican Presidential nomination in 2016: Diehard conservatives who think Christie isn’t vicious enough to be President.
On Friday Christie told reporters (over the course of a 105-minute press conference, perhaps to demonstrate the stamina required of a U.S. President) that the retributive act was the fault of a key aide, not him, and that the aide had been fired and it would be better for New Jersey and America if he, and we, moved on from this act of betrayal, however much it had hurt Chris Christie. Allegedly aggrieved parties also let it be known that they were not so aggrieved, really.
Fishy, maybe, but in the Great Tradition of American Politics; what can you do? If you’re a rightblogger, spin it. The magic ingredient: Benghazi! Or IRS. Or whatever.
Because, as we saw at the time of his reelection, many rightbloggers consider Christie a RINO, too cozy with Obama during Hurricane Sandy and insufficiently bloodthirsty to qualify as a true conservative, some were compelled to portray him as a liberal darling, e.g. the Daily Caller’s Alex Pappas: “As liberals support Christie during scandal, conservatives abandon him.” Glenn Beck humorously cast the contretemps as a movie called “Fat and Furious” and rated it “P for Progressive.”
“In public, the notorious Christie wrath is usually reserved for tea-party conservatives” and “those who don’t share his soft spot for Islamic supremacists,” snarled Andrew C. McCarthy at National Review, though he did admit enjoying when Christie turned on “the stray insolent teachers’-union rep — because, well, who doesn’t enjoy watching that?” Once a torture enthusiast, always a torture enthusiast!
RedState Grand Wizard Erick Erickson said this was “a story that can go away quickly if Christie acts quickly” and would “follow through and see that heads roll.” But after Christie made heads roll, Erickson told his readers that Christie’s Presidential run was probably doomed because he was an asshole — or an a**hole, in Erickson’s Christian dialect. Oddly, in defense of this assertion Erickson circulated horror stories he’d heard, not about Christie, but about “Christie’s staff,” whom recent events had just made plain were the very rolling heads Christie needed to lop and spin to protect himself. (Maybe pointing out that any a**hole can be President if he rolls enough heads was more insider politics than Erickson felt his readers could handle.)
But naysayers were outnumbered by those who, aware that Christie has an “R.” after his honorific and yells at schoolteachers, sprang to his defense, e.g. The Washington Free Beacon: “U.S. Attorney Probing Christie Has Donated Thousands to Democrats.”
This week’s Above-and-Beyond award went to Fox News’ Brit Hume, who claimed people were giving Christie a hard time because of the “feminized atmosphere in which we exist today,” which counts against “guys who are masculine and muscular like that in their private conduct, kind of old fashion tough guys” — yes, we double-checked, he was talking about Chris Christie.
Radio personality DaTechGuy claimed if Christie gets away with this, he has the malign, America-destroying example of Bill Clinton to thank, because after Clinton’s historic blowjob “the party didn’t tell him to leave, the Democrats many still in congress didn’t reject him and he not only survived his trial in the Senate but is still celebrated by the left and the media to this day.” Therefore, “if [Christie] was involved, and got up and lied through is teeth to the American people and you wonder why he thought he could get away with it, you need to look no father than President Bill Clinton and all those who enabled him, including the American People.”
This was unusual, in that DaTechGuy was blaming a different Democratic President than most of his colleagues, who were — ah, we sense our readers have already caught up with us.
“The media gets under my skin,” grumbled Floyd Brown of the Western Center for Journalism, because “according to a report from the Media Research Center, Bridge-gate has received approximately 17 times more coverage in one day than the Obama IRS scandal received in months.”
This assertion, our own research reveals, has been quickly disseminated throughout rightblogger world: “There’s Already 17 Times More Coverage on Christie Scandal Than in Last Six Months of IRS,” said NewsBusters’ Scott Whitlock (“These stories were buried by ABC, CBS and NBC, the same networks that have immediately deluged Republican Chris Christie…”); “Nets give ‘Bridgegate’ 17 times more coverage in 1 day than IRS scandal in 6 months,” said the Washington Examiner‘s Paul Bedard; “In the last 24 hours, there has been 17 times as much Christie bridge coverage on network news than IRS coverage over the last six months,” said Power Line’s John Hinderaker. “And that is only the tip of the iceberg… don’t reporters understand how obvious it is that they delight in Republican scandals, and do their best to cover up Democratic ones?” Etc.
The IRS scandalette, you may recall, was about Tea Party groups having their tax-exempt status delayed because the IRS suspected the guys in tri-corner hats waving OBAMA=HITLER signs were actually running primarily political organizations, for some reason. If there is an imbalance in coverage, it may owe to the distinguishing feature that the Fort Lee vendetta actually happened, as well as to the fact that Obama didn’t spend an hour and three-quarters on national TV trying to convince people that he was innocent.
But Brown, like most of the brethren, accepted rightblogger gospel on the IRS, and found Obama’s response inferior to Christie’s: For one thing, “during Governor Christie’s 107-minute news conference, he was honest and contrite,” wrote Brown. “I’ve never seen Obama be contrite about anything.” Well, there you have it.
These sentiments were echoed by James Taranto, the Wall Street Journal columnist and IRS scandalette specialist, who has claimed not only that the IRS Tea Party foot-dragging may have been responsible for Obama’s five-million-vote victory margin in 2012, necessitating an “asterisk” on his reelection, but also that if Obama didn’t directly order his IRS flunkies to bring down the Tea Party, that actually made him more guilty because “it would mean that the government itself… has turned against the citizenry and the Constitution,” which would naturally be Obama’s fault.
This week Taranto reported that “the Christie administration’s evident abuse of the Port Authority is reminiscent of the Obama administration’s abuse of the Internal Revenue Service.” But Taranto noted some key differences: While Obama is so clearly the culprit in the IRS scandalette that his reelection is at least partially invalidated, the bridge incidents “suggest that Christie’s administration, if not the man himself, has a similar quality” to Obama. Also, “no evidence has emerged that the governor himself was involved.” The upshot, then, is that Christie’s former aides are as bad as Barack Obama, and Christie may yet have problems in 2016 “if voters two years from now are looking for a corrective to the corruption and deception of the Obama years.”
At the New York Post, John Podhoretz claimed the IRS scandalette was “juicy, just as Bridgegate is juicy… it’s the sort of thing TV newspeople could gab about for days on end without needing a fresh piece of news to keep it going.” Yet despite John Podhoretz’s news judgment, few of those TV guys thought IRS was a big story. “Why? Oh, come on, you know why,” said Podhoretz. “Christie belongs to one political party. Obama belongs to the other. You know which ones they belong to.” That’s why John Podhoretz’s columns are smuggled out to you on mimeograph paper, while Obama’s lies fill the Times. “Some in the media have been rather incredulous about Christie’s denying involvement,” said Andrew Stiles at National Review. “…Such questions certainly weren’t being asked (outside the conservative media) about President Obama in the wake of the IRS revelations…”
Clarice Feldman of American Thinker went so far as to invent a conversation about Christie and the “Obamacare, IRS, and Benghazi Scandal Gap” between herself and a Stupid Lieberal Professor named Zigmund Bensky of “Whackadoodle School here in the District of Columbia, a place that attracts ambitious, earnest young people who ‘want to make a difference’ without working too hard at it.” (The trope will be familiar to connoisseurs of the Liberal Dinner Party.) When Stupid Lieberal Bensky, ensconced at Feldman’s home because he’d forgotten to pay his gas bill like the Stupid Lieberal he is, quoted the New York Times, Feldman countered, “Isn’t that the article where the fact checkers misstated the name of the reporter and misidentified the governor of New York (the state where the paper is headquartered), Andrew Cuomo, as the governor of New Jersey?” You can guess how badly things went for the Professor after that; “if he was hoping to best me on that, I think he failed,” Feldman told her readers. She also reported that the professor passed out drunk in her home, and that he was about to get fired from his job. (Why she didn’t add that he’d soiled himself we can’t guess.)
Feldman’s Benghazi reference was no aberration. If you can compare the bridge thing to one phony Obama scandal, you can compare it to all of them.
“[Sarah] Palin said what Christie’s office did is ‘nothing compared to what some leaders in our White House have engaged in and covered up,’ citing the NSA surveillance programs and the attack on the U.S. consulate in Benghazi, Libya as examples of more egregious ‘scandals,'” reported Mediaite. Chris Christie “stood there with an open dialogue with the press,” claimed Republican National Committee chairman Reince Priebus. “Now only if Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton would give us 111 seconds of that would we find out some things about we wanna find out about Obamacare, Benghazi, the IRS…” “More heads have rolled over ‘Bridgegate’ than the IRS scandal, Benghazi and botched Obamacare rollout combined,” said Doug Powers at the Michelle Malkin site.
“After the Obamacare lies, after Fast and Furious, after Benghazi, after killing three Americans without due process, after it all (and none of it bothers liberals) we’re supposed to be exercised about traffic cones?” snarled Flopping Aces, which suggested that at his press conference Christie make a Benghazi-related joke, e.g. “The traffic jams were caused by a video.” (Not that they were disappointed when he didn’t: “This will only strengthen Christie as a leader and diminish Obama further,” they wrote.)
“If Chris Christie Staffers Shutting Down Traffic Was Wrong, What About Obama’s Shutdown Theater?” cried Rob Port of Say Anything. “How was President Obama’s decision to shut down open-air war memorials to the veterans of those wars – at a greater cost to the public than just keeping them open – any better than what Christie’s staffers are guilty of?”
“[The bridge thing] did drown out much of the fallout of former Defense Secretary Bob Gate’s scathing indictment of Barack Obama and Hillary Clinton. That’s a far more important story, both now and in terms of the future,” wrote Nick Gillespie, representing the conservative niche brand Libertarianism and Reason magazine.
The most interesting part of this, to us, is that while a lot of rightbloggers don’t really like Christie, they still felt the need to back him up.
Even in his defense of Christie/attack on Obama, Floyd Brown felt compelled to tell us that Christie is “the darling of a GOP establishment that’s betrayed the American middle class time and time again… a RINO (Republican in Name Only) who helped Barack Obama win the last presidential election by locking arms in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy… a critic of Congressional and Tea Party initiatives to reign in out-of-control government spending and growth,” etc. Yet he defended Christie on the grounds that Obama Benghazi Skree, as did other rightbloggers.
William A. Jacobson at Legal Insurrection said he didn’t like Christie either — “Christie’s figurative wet, sloppy tongue kiss with Obama just before the election was dispiriting (and gross!)” — but felt the Governor should be defended against the Obamamedia. “Whether it was the false and defamatory supposed connection of Sarah Palin to the Gabby Giffords shooting, or the media frenzy over Mitt Romney’s (now vindicated) comments about Benghazi, there is no Republican immune from the media mob,” said Jacobson. “Only Democrats are immune… This is not about Chris Christie. It’s about any number of other Republican candidates who will be met with the same faux-outrage and media-led obsession a year from now… Don’t feed the beast.”
Some Guy at RedState went even further, explaining “how Christie Bridgegate Scandal may reassure worried conservatives,” because it shows that the RINO Christie “can hire staff to play hardball on Democrats not just conservatives.” Some Guy affirmed his faith in every horrific scenario about Obama’s scandalettes, including one about the “admiral who refused to stand down” at Benghazi and “was immediately relieved of command and then hidden away so well that no Congressman has been able to locate him and summon him to testify,” yet didn’t mind admitting how wonderful it would be if Christie showed that sort of initiative.
Maybe that’s Christie’s real achievement here. However adroit his handling of the bridge thing was on a simple ass-covering level, how much more impressive it is that it got conservatives, even those who’d heretofore denounced him, to warm to him simply because he had a scandal that they could compare favorably to the ones they routinely attribute to Obama! Picture Christie delegates to the 2016 GOP Convention wearing George Washington Bridge hats and carrying signs that say “HE MAY BE A A**HOLE BUT HE’S OUR A**HOLE!” That’s the sort of thing from which legends of political genius are born.