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Christie’s Bridge Problem (II)

Alex Roarty reports that Christie’s supporters in the GOP are sticking with him for now:

For all the risk posed, many GOP leaders are convinced that as long as Christie isn’t implicated further, he’ll escape the controversy with only minor scratches. The fundamentals of his appeal—a demonstrated connection with blue-state voters and strong leadership qualities—are too strong to ignore.

This reaction doesn’t make much sense to me, but then I don’t share Christie supporters’ enthusiasm for him, either. The lane closure episode ought to be a flashing warning light to Christie backers that their original assessment of his competence was likely very wrong, but so far that doesn’t appear to be what is happening. Enthusiasm for Christie as a potential presidential or vice presidential candidate has always exceeded his qualifications for these roles, but he has been built up into a leading contender for so long that none of his supporters wants to admit that they may have been mistaken from the start. His boosters in the party have ignored any possible liabilities that Christie could have, and by remaining oblivious or indifferent to his flaws (or pretending that those flaws are admirable qualities) they have convinced themselves that he is a more formidable candidate than really is. Having elevated Christie to the position of the default “establishment” candidate, his backers are to some extent stuck with supporting him for lack of an alternative. Because they continue to overrate him as a candidate, they won’t see any need to go looking for an alternative until it is much too late.

As for Christie’s claim that he knew nothing about what his aides and appointees had done until this week, it strains credulity. He must have known what his people were doing, or he must have learned about it at some point in the last few months. Add this episode to the list of reasons why Christie shouldn’t be trusted with more power.

about the author

Daniel Larison is a senior editor at TAC, where he also keeps a solo blog. He has been published in the New York Times Book Review, Dallas Morning News, World Politics Review, Politico Magazine, Orthodox Life, Front Porch Republic, The American Scene, and Culture11, and was a columnist for The Week. He holds a PhD in history from the University of Chicago, and resides in Lancaster, PA. Follow him on Twitter.

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