THE BLOG

Good News for Chris Christie

01/17/2014 09:52 am ET | Updated Mar 19, 2014

Ever get stuck in traffic?

Enjoy it?

Let's be blunt: for the pettiest of political reasons, Governor Chris Christie's staff -- and maybe the governor himself -- shut down traffic on the busiest bridge in the world. If you answered "no" to the second question above, how would you feel about sitting literally for hours, barely moving, because the boys in Trenton wanted to dress down a minor mayor?

Which may be very good news for Chris Christie. How is that possible?

If the governor survives this without being indicted or impeached -- very, very big ifs at this point -- he may still try and run for the Republican nomination for president.

Which, before the bridge scandal -- yes, before -- was quite a long shot. Frankly, at that time he had a far better chance of winning the general election against a Democrat than he did of convincing a Republican majority to choose him.

Right now the Republican party is weighted towards the South and West, their strongholds. While delegates to their nominating convention will come from all fifty states, their frontrunner will reflect turnout in 2012, and that means Mississippi and not New York.

That posed a big problem for Governor Christie. Even though he's quite the conservative, he doesn't tow the party line on key issues like gun control. Even more, his style works well in the Northeast, even in the Midwest, but would be a huge turnoff in Georgia and in Kansas; Christie's bid would be stopped cold in Dixie and the Great Plains. Even without the George Washington Bridge, in other words, his party's support was unlikely.

Some papers are now predicting that the bridge affair will complete the job. The thinking is that Northerners appreciate public transportation; good ole' boys watch NASCAR and long for the open roads. And Christie let drivers sit and stink in gas fumes. What a loser.

But that's not what's happening. Within days, conservatives have absorbed a scenario that is being repeated over and over, and believed. Mention Chris Christie, and there is no mention of traffic whatsoever. Instead, the endless mantra goes, "But what about Benghazi? What about Fast and Furious? They let Hillary Clinton off the hook for Benghazi. What about that?" As one conservative blogger wrote, Christie is being condemned by "democrats and journalists; is there a difference?" On Fox News' website there is not much discussion of New Jersey, and a prominent video entitled, "Why You Don't Want to Get on Hillary Clinton's Bad Side", followed by "Senator Mitch McConnell on Obama's Power Overreach". Right now, it's not so much that the Right is defending the governor, as using him as an excuse to flog their perpetual targets. But that provides a big opening for the big guy from the Garden State,

What Chris Christie needed above all to win the nomination was to become a good old boy, not a character out of The Sopranos. But to today's conservative way of thinking, the best way to do that is to become a victim. Picked on by the liberal media, pilloried by corrupt Democrats, just like us. Being attacked by the New York Times is the best thing that could happen to Christie in some parts of the country.

So the governor's position has just been reversed. Before he couldn't get the Republican nomination but might stand a fair chance in the general election. Right now his stature in red states is rising, while his odds on carrying the country plummet.

Life gets interesting in Republican politics.