What we are seeing happen now transcends the GOP’s intransigence and Obama’s incompetence. What we are seeing is actually the playing out of a larger trend whereby a “free agent nation” no longer respects its leaders. We see this when Liz Cheney shows up in Wyoming and decides she wants to be a senator, despite an entire party telling her not to run. We see this when a guy from Texas shows up in the U.S. Senate, and 15 minutes later is undermining the speaker of the House.

This, of course, is why Christie might be the right man at the right time.

Republicans might also benefit from having a leader who can stand up to the rebels within the GOP – especially if the shutdown hurts Republicans, causing them to re-evaluate which leaders deserve to be taken seriously.

I know what you’re thinking. Christie can never win a Republican nomination. He’s too moderate for the conservative base. Maybe. But consider this: John McCain and Mitt Romney were each able to win the GOP nomination when other candidates split the right-wing vote. Similarly, Rand Paul and Ted Cruz will likely duke it out eventually, opening the door for Christie to win without uber-conservatives.