Democrats predictably condemned the New Jersey governor after a bombshell report Wednesday tied one of his top staffers to a burgeoning scandal that's already been dubbed "Bridge-gate." More notable was the dearth of Republicans who rose to Christie's defense -- and, privately, the schadenfreude expressed by some of them that a man who's never been shy about taking shots at others was suddenly on the receiving end. "All these people who feel like he's bullied and he's put them in a horse-collar hold ... will feel free to say, 'See, I told you so,'" said one Republican who has worked with Christie.
One of the central problems with New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie's (R) bridge scandal is that there's no credible defense for what happened. The most generous, best case scenario is that the Republican governor was clueless about his own team's corruption, kept in the dark while his top aides lied to him for months, even as they abused their power in his name, deliberately crippling a community over petty politics.
Even the most ardent Christie cheerleaders are going to find it difficult to spin this one away. Most aren't even trying.
Sen. John McCain (R-Ariz.), generally an ally of Christie, offered no defense for what transpired, telling MSNBC this morning that the governor simply must "put everything on the table."
There are, in effect, three GOP camps when it comes to the controversy: (1) conservative Republicans who don't like Christie anyway and who are using the revelations to condemn him; (2) mainstream Republicans who can't think of a persuasive defense; and (3) New Jersey Republicans who don't want any part of this.
When it comes to that third group, note former New Jersey Gov. Tom Kean (R), a Christie mentor, told the Wall Street Journal the revelations are "disturbing," adding, "What could they have been thinking?"
Or even funnier, consider the fact that Rep. Frank LoBiondo (R-N.J.) ran away from a Politico reporter who tried to ask him yesterday about Christie.
But it's the far-right conservatives the governor may have to worry about most. Christie's Democratic critics feel vindicated by the revelations, but their charges will have a bipartisan reach as the governor's GOP detractors seize on the news. It matters, for example, that everyone from Limbaugh to the Daily Caller to Glenn Beck's site all hit Christie pretty hard yesterday.
The governor, in other words, is suddenly isolated in ways he's wholly unaccustomed to. If he's wondering who his friends are, Christie is finding that his scandal is severe enough that he doesn't have many friends left.