Politics is pretty much a zero-sum game. If somebody’s losing—spectacularly, flailingly—as Chris Christie is this week, you can bet there are some winners lurking nearby. So who benefits most from the New Jersey governor’s “Bridgegate” scandal?
• HILLARY CLINTON: The most obvious winner. A recent Iowa poll had her and Christie running neck-and-neck in the 2016 presidential contest. Christie’s diminished standing doesn’t mean he can’t recover—and there’s still plenty of time for other challengers to emerge and gain strength—but do you think she feels better or worse about her chances with Christie hobbled?
• CONSERVATIVES: Sure, Christie’s the front-runner for the Republican nomination, or was. But conservatives never loved him—Christie was a conservative by temperament (he likes being a jerk to liberals) but ideologically was less steadfast than many of his peers would prefer. He didn’t always act like a jerk to President Obama! Christie’s wounds perhaps create an opportunity for a “real” conservative to gather momentum and support.
• FORT LEE MAYOR MARK SOKOLICH: No idea if he has any ambitions beyond leading his berg, but the future history of Chris Christie’s career will now be incomplete if it doesn’t mention Sokolich, the mayor who stood against Christie and won. Boom.
• TEACHERS: Has any group of New Jerseyans been so repeatedly and enthusiastically chastised and rebuked by Christie? How many videos does the governor’s own YouTube channel feature him yelling at some poor middle school teacher? Think he’s going to keep a lid on “Angry Chris” for awhile? If he wants any shot at recovery, he’ll have to.
• REAPING WHAT YOU SOW: Christie made his name by being a son-of-a-bitch—the kind of get-in-your-face politician who might, I don’t know, shut down traffic to a political rival’s town just to make him angry and afraid. Now, sure, Christie says he was “misled” by the staffers who perpetrated all of this—but does anybody think that he didn’t set the tone for his staffers actions? Do you think any of them would’ve gone ahead if they thought they were contradicting his wishes?
Yeah, we didn’t think so either. Christie’s had a comeuppance coming a long time. It finally arrived.