It now appears that the bridge scandal will finish off Christie after all:
The former Port Authority official who personally oversaw the lane closings on the George Washington Bridge in the scandal now swirling around Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey said on Friday that the governor knew about the lane closings when they were happening, and that he had the evidence to prove it.
As long as none of Christie’s aides or appointees contradicted his story about the lane closures, there was a decent chance that he could endure the damage from the scandal and still have a political career in the future. Assuming that this former official can back up his claims, Christie is not only finished as a national candidate, but he will probably be forced from office early, and he should be. It is somehow fitting that he should be undone by such petty punitive tactics when he owed his reputation as a national political figure in no small measure to his willingness to browbeat and harangue. Even if Christie hangs on in office for the rest of his term, he will make no headway in getting anything through the legislature, and his second term is effectively over. The main question that will remain at that point is whether any laws were broken and to what extent Christie may be culpable.
I never really understood the Republican enthusiasm for Christie, which had already reached ridiculous proportions by the summer of 2011 and only became more so as time went by. The argument for Christie was superficially appealing, but made less sense under closer scrutiny. It was difficult to see how Christie could have translated his limited state-level success into a winning national agenda, and his apparent lack of interest in policy reform ideas suggested that he would have run as an utterly conventional Republican. Racking up big wins against fatally wounded or completely unknown opponents didn’t necessarily prove that he would be competitive nationally, and there was just as much reason to expect that he would suffer from the limitations of a regional candidate. The assumption that he would be able to expand the Republican coalition through sheer force of personality always seemed like wishful thinking, especially when that personality relied to such a large extent on being combative and obnoxious. Now we’ll never find out, but that is almost certainly a blessing in disguise for the GOP.