As I've written several times, this Christie Bridge Scandal is far more potentially damaging for Christie that it might seem on its face because its fits so perfectly with the negative view (as opposed to the positive view) of Chris Christie. That is, that he and his crew are thugs and bullies.I tried to address this in a couple of addendums to my last post, but I'll try again, more explicitly: Please remember that the right's positive view of Chris Christie already is that he's a thug -- but he's their thug, inclined to act on behalf of their interests.
Yes, explaining Bridgegate away is going to require some Escher-esque thinking on the part of supporters -- but, really, how hard would that be for the right? Remember torture in the Bush years? Remember how right-wingers basically seemed to believe that it wasn't torture, but really it was torture and that was fine because all evil ragheads deserve to be mercilessly tortured as much as possible, but what's the big deal anyway because the torture/not-torture happened only an extremely limited number of times? The thinking here is going to be similarly convoluted and self-contradictory: Yes, a top aide was involved, according to emails, but there's no direct evidence of Christie involvement; yeah, maybe it was hardball on Christie's part, but what actual evidence of harm is there?; and hey, that mayor in Fort Lee probably had it coming, and good for Christie for sticking it to him.
The right found the early viral videos of precisely this Chris Christie -- Christie the bully -- so delightful that he may actually gain in status among GOP voters from this scandal, especially if he spends a lot of time in the near future berating reporters and saying that he's focused on the people's business while they're obsessed with a traffic story. (Local reporters will be conflated with the national media, whom right-wingers will angrily accuse of focusing on this story as a distraction from Obamacare and the lousy economy and Benghazi.)
Marshall writes about Bridgegate:
It's not bribery or killing someone or a high crime. But it's vindictive and quite possibly illegal. It's almost the definition of an abuse of power. It won't sink Christie. At least not the evidence so far. But it will hang around his neck forever as that bad thing Christie's operation did that supposedly (depending on whether you're a friend or enemy) tells you who the real Chris Christie is about.But, see, the right likes "vindictive and quite possibly illegal" if the vindictive lawbreaker is on the right's side. The people who've liked Chris Christie like the fact that he's this way. I'll say what I've said in the past: you think GOP voters don't like angry guys from the East Coast? Then why is their favorite TV host Bill O'Reilly? (And why limit this analysis to the East Coast? It's not as if right-wing heroes like Phil Robertson, or Sarah Palin, or Ted Nugent weigh their words carefully and avoid giving offense whenever possible.)
I still say the other side of Christie's public persona -- the Obama hugging, the support for DREAMers -- is a far greater threat to his hopes for the GOP nomination. I'm sticking with that.