The unstoppable Robert Costa talks to a bunch of Republicans from all sectors of the party and finds them cheery about Chris Christie’s future. Yesterday, NBC News reported that a nine-month DOJ probe of Christie’s role in Bridgegate found nothing. And because Costa is Costa, he even got Chuck Laudner, who literally drove Rick Santorum around Iowa in 2011, to praise the Christie resurrection. “To have that not hanging over his head puts him back where he started from,” says Laudner, an activist who you would never expect to back the New Jersey governor.
My only argument about any of this: Christie is fundamentally better off because Bridgegate happened. Before the story, Christie was assumed to not just the 2016 Republican frontrunner but a beltway-approved, Morning Joe-feted savior of the Republican Party. You can look at the Judicial Network ads that follow Christie along every trip to South Carolina to see how that plays.
The scandal removed Christie from that position, and bestowed a new one upon him. He was now, like Scott Walker and like Rick Perry (and Richard Nixon, etc and etc) a Republican trying to do his job before being attacked by the thuggish, criminalizing Democrats. He was no longer an MSNBC morning hero; he was the subject of hundreds of segments that linked him to corruption. Christie discovered the right’s enemies, and now he’s back, attacking state Democrats who keep investigating him as “people who are addicted to MSNBC and the front page of your papers.”