Via the Daily Rushbo, the wildebeest analogy made me chuckle. I think this is more of a shot at RINOs for having poor taste in aligning themselves with Christie in the first place then a shot at them for being cowardly in not backing their guy up in his hour of need, but the two aren’t mutually exclusive. As a noted RINO myself (albeit one who’s skeptical of Christie’s claims of innocence), I’m not sure what any of his allies could have said to defend him yesterday. If your strongest argument for your guy is “well, there’s no proof that he’s involved yet,” you’re probably better off sitting tight and hoping for the best. For what it’s worth, my Twitter timeline this morning was overflowing with praise for Christie from center-righties for his quick firing of Bridget Kelly and extended apologetics at today’s presser. By closing time tomorrow, I’d bet, they’ll have moved on to “it’s old news.” Big-name RINOs will be backing him up before you know it.
Since I needled S.E. Cupp last night for thinking Christie could resign and then rebound to run for president anyway (what?), let me take a swig of what she’s drinking and float this idea: Could Bridgegate have slightly increased the chance of him running as an independent in 2016? Those odds are lo-o-o-ong, but I can kinda sorta imagine a scenario in which Christie becomes so alienated from conservative voters through centrist policy moves, petty scandals, and abrasive anti-Republican rhetoric that he concludes he has no path through the primaries. Scott Walker’s too appealing as a centrist PEU-smashing alternative, the rest of the field’s too strong, he’s too damaged, and so the door is, realistically, closed — as a Republican. As an independent, though, he’d be a player again. He’d get tons of free media from the press, which would find the drama of a paradigm-shifting centrist candidacy irresistible (at first), and he’d probably do okay with fundraising between Christie loyalists in the national GOP donor class, Wall Street players eager to see a moderate local guy win the White House (Mike Bloomberg foremost among them), and disaffected small donors who are looking for a new Perot to end “business as usual” in politics. If Bridgegate is followed by a few more setbacks and his star starts to dim inside the GOP, his best (longshot) bet might be to jump in as an indie and declare the age of the two-party system over or whatever. He might not win — in fact, he almost certainly wouldn’t — but launching a viable third-party candidacy would be a major achievement in its own right and doubtless highly flattering to his giant ego. And it’d be true to his personal brand, which isn’t really Republican anymore anyway. When he talks national politics, you’re more likely to hear him inveigh against gridlock and “Washington” than against Obama and the Democrats. If he won the GOP nomination, he’d run in the general election as an independent for all intents and purposes anyway. If he starts to fade over the next two years with the party, I wonder if that’s the route he’ll go.