Ed Driscoll

Jersey Jujitsu?

“The Big, Fat Chris Christie FAQ,” is rounded up by Jonathan Last at the Weekly Standard, beginning with, “1.) So just how bad is this George Washington Bridge traffic incident?”

It’s bad. Pretty bad. Super bad, even. Chief executives just don’t use the power of government to exact revenge on ordinary citizens for what they take to be political insubordination.

To put this in context, imagine what it would be like for a presidential administration to close down national parks in order to intentionally inflict pain on people trying to visit them. Or if some other administration had the IRS target individuals and groups from the opposing side. Thankfully, things like that never, ever happen.

2.) Wait a minute, I see what you’re doing there…

As The One likes to say, let’s be clear: I’m not doing Christie any favors by saying tu quoque and pointing to even worse scandals from Barack Hussein Obama. But I would like to echo an astute observation from John Podhoretz over the weekend:

According to Scott Whitlock of the Media Research Center, “In less than 24 hours, the three networks have devoted 17 times more coverage to a traffic scandal involving Chris Christie than they’ve allowed in the last six months to Barack Obama’s Internal Revenue Service controversy.”

MSNBC is treating this like Watergate, with theories and more theories and (over at the NBC mothership) they’re talking impeachment. Democrats think this is Christmas, Winter Solstice, and Kwanzaa, all rolled into one. Which means we should expect the feeding frenzy to continue as long as is minimally plausible.

But note this. Responding to the question, err, from himself, “Is Christie finished?” Last responds, err, to himself:

I doubt it, for a couple reasons.

First, this scandal elevates him in the national consciousness. Think of it as something like pre-vetting for the presidential primaries, carried out at a safe remove from the actual voting. Not only that, but it puts him on a pedestal as THE Republican Democrats are trying to take down. And if Christie was going to have trouble with conservative primary voters, having MSNBC obsessed with getting his scalp is a pretty good way to rally them.

Second, did you see his press conference? No one wants to spend two hours explaining to reporters why they’re not the second coming of Richard Nixon. But if you have to spend two hours explaining why you’re not the second coming of Nixon, very few politicians could do it that well.

Christie isn’t just a YouTube sensation. He’s an enormous political talent. People seem to have forgotten that.

And as Jim Geraghty* notes in his emailed Morning Jolt today, “New Jersey Voters: We Trust the Big Guy:”

Go figure!

New Jersey Gov. Christopher Christie is more of a leader than a bully, voters say 54 – 40 percent today, one of his lowest “bully” scores since the Quinnipiac University poll first asked the question June 17, 2010.

Gov. Christie gets positive marks on key characteristics: Voters say 51 – 41 percent that he is honest and trustworthy; 74 – 23 percent that he is a strong leader and 55 – 41 percent that he cares about their needs and problems.

New Jersey voters approve 55 – 38 percent of the job Gov. Christie is doing, down from his all-time high 74 – 22 percent February 20, 2013. Women approve 55 – 37 percent while men approve 54 – 39 percent. Approval among Democrats drops from 56 – 38 percent last February to a negative 36 – 55 percent today.

For now, the public doesn’t think this was Christie’s call.

Some 93 percent of all New Jersey voters have read or heard something about the controversy surrounding the September traffic jam on the George Washington Bridge.

Voters in that group say 66 – 22 that the governor did not personally order the traffic jam. Even Democrats say 53 – 32 percent that Christie was not involved.

Someone pointed out that diverting those traffic lanes made life hell for commuters in Fort Lee in New Jersey… but made life easier for folks from other parts of New Jersey. Maybe some folks feel the lane diversion wasn’t such a bad thing.

As Jonathan Last writes, “If it turns out he was behind the lane closures, he’s toast.” But if not, he’s probably the one GOP governor who’s savvy enough to look at the enormous spotlight the MSM have shined on him at the start of the year, and realized, “It’s showtime” — and have the chops to perform.

On the downside: as with John McCain last decade, if only he hadn’t alienated so many GOP conservatives along the way, he wouldn’t have to go it alone right now.

* AKA the next representative from Virginia, now that punitive far left Jim Moran announcing that he’s cutting and running from Congress.

Update: Heh — “Chris Christie’s Staff Blames Bridge Closing on Anti-Islam Video.”