By comparison, guys like Gary Hart and Bill Clinton had it easy.
Sex scandal? No big deal. Traffic jam in New Jersey? Now that’s how you infuriate people.
It remains to be seen exactly how the controversy surrounding “bridge-gate” will impact Christie’s dreams of a 2016 presidential bid, but watching the news this morning it appeared that the world was about to slip off its axis. The talking heads were beside themselves, questioning whether Christie’s political clout could endure the scandal.
Within moments of the fateful e-mail surfacing, DNC activists were all over the blogosphere, questioning the New Jersey governor’s credibility and his ability to lead.
“Is this the guy we want in the White House?,” wrote one woman on Facebook, mocking Christie for “not knowing” about every e-mail his staff had sent or received.
Strangely, it was only a few months ago when Democrats were eager to point to Christie as a welcome voice of sanity in the GOP. They praised his bipartisan nature because he was willing (gasp) to meet with President Obama in the aftermath of Hurricane Sandy, only days before the 2012 election.
Republicans, on the other hand, were infuriated, stopping just short of accusing Christie of orchestrating the hurricane disaster as a way to help Obama beat Romney. Sorry, but my cocker spaniel could have helped Obama beat Romney.
Back then, my friends on the left side of the political aisle celebrated Christie. They praised him as a rare Republican. They called him a moderate. They said he was a “common sense leader.”
They used to say the same things about John McCain: a maverick . . . a man of principle. Democrats felt good about being able to heap praise on someone from the other side of the aisle, right up until he won the GOP nomination.
The same dynamic began happening to Christie last year, despite his willingness to parody himself on the Jimmy Fallon Show. Because Hillary is the heir apparent for the Oval Office, and because Christie was holding his own in polling against her, he began to fall out of favor, especially with my friends on the left.
Christie, however, adamantly and repeatedly denies having any interest in the 2016 presidential race. Strangely, he sent a lot of Christmas cards to elected officials in Iowa a few weeks ago. Who knows? Maybe he just likes Iowa.
I don’t know how this crisis will impact Christie’s political future, but I do know this: I was lukewarm about him as a presidential candidate until this afternoon.
Christie did something today that is rare in today’s political world. He took responsibility. He said, “I own this.” He apologized. He held his subordinates responsible. He expressed regret. He answered every question the media threw at him . . . and then some. He talked, and talked and talked . . . and talked.
He did not run away from the problem. He faced it head on. He accepted the responsibility that comes with leadership. “The buck stops with me,” he said.
How refreshing. He didn’t blame his political opponents. He didn’t blame the media. He didn’t blame Congress. He owned the problem and pledged to fix it.
That’s leadership, but don’t hold your breath waiting for the left to give him any praise or even the benefit of the doubt.
Because today was the best day that Hillary Clinton has had in a long, long time.