I said this morning that Chris Christie could survive Bridgegate "unless somehow [it] can be linked directly to death or serious harm ... as a result of emergency personnel being ensnared in a traffic jam" -- and now there's this:
Emergency responders were delayed in attending to four medical situations -- including one in which a 91-year-old woman lay unconscious -- due to traffic gridlock caused by unannounced closures of access lanes to the George Washington Bridge, according to the head of the borough's EMS department.Also, according to NBC News tonight: "Among those caught in the jam for hours, police searching for a missing four-year-old girl."
The woman later died, borough records show....
So, yeah, this is a problem for Christie.
He may suffer serious political harm -- but I bet he wouldn't have if he were still yelling at teachers as much as he used to when he first took office. Back then, videos of Christie the bully were the hottest thing on Fox Nation. Right now, by contrast, the site's front page has five stories about the Robert Gates book, and just one story, down at the bottom of the page, about Christie.
In Christie's, um, glory days, Fox Nation would have been dominated by items intended to spin this story his way. The most damaging information available would be dug up about the mayor of Fort Lee. We'd be told that the first responders there do a lousy job on ordinary days, so any ambulance delays must be the result of something other than the lane closure on the bridge. There'd be smears against reporters working the story, and against Jersey Democrats denouncing the lane closure. You know the drill.
But none of that pushback is being generated by the conservative noise machine because Christie hasn't been tickling right-wing pleasure centers the way he once did. When was the last time he yelled at a teacher and posted the video online anyway? Seems as if it's been a while. I guess he wanted to seem like America's new bipartisan dreamboat, going into his reelection campaign and into 2016.
He should have kept up the on-camera partisan nastiness, because he needs backup now, and he's not getting it. The right has abandoned him. I think he'd be getting more backup even from the mainstream press if he'd continued yelling at teachers -- the centrist media declared Christie a superstar back when he was thrilling the Fox crowd with all those teacher attacks, and I think the centrists would be taking their cue from the right at this moment if Fox and talk radio were rallying the rabble to Christie's defense.
So Christie's not in trouble for tacking to the middle -- but I think tacking to the middle is why he can't get out of trouble.
UPDATE: Dan Riehl is showing us how it would have been done if the entire conservative media machine were behind Christie. On Twitter:
So, Christie didn't know about some lane closings, meanwhile Hillary got an ambassador killed. The media sure does have its priorities.— DanRiehl (@DanRiehl) January 8, 2014
And on his blog:
Will there be a body count? Michelle/Oprah related Roadblocks cause Havoc in HawaiiIf the right had Chritie's back, that's how Fox would be flooding the zone, and Chuck Todd would be echoing the Fox line within a news cycle or two.