Last night, Bruce Springsteen and Jimmy Fallon mocked “Bridgegate” with a parody of The Boss’ classic tune, “Born to Run.” To be sure, parts were humorous (like the line: “I really gotta take a leak”), but it was as much of a protest song as a skit. After all, accusing Christie of “killing the working man,” is hardly a jest. As John Podhoretz observed, it’s “[h]ard to overcome pop-cultural assaults like this.”
Conservatives who view this as delayed karma for Christie’s praise of President Obama during 2012’s superstorm Sandy will surely take some pleasure in recalling the time that Christie wept after talking to Springsteen. Now, Fallon has weaponized Springsteen against Christie.
This is a sore spot for conservatives who have long lamented that the only way a Republican can demonstrate to the mainstream media that he has “grown” or “matured” is for that Republican to become more liberal (or attack a fellow Republican.) This phenomenon usually afflicts Congressmen, not governors, who come down with something called “Potomac Fever.” But it’s apparently also contagious somewhere in the swamps of Jersey.
Perhaps Christie should have seen this coming? There is no honor among thieves, and these short-lived bipartisan dalliances are almost always destined to blow up in the face of the Republican — once being friends with him is no longer convenient (remember when John McCain joked the media were his “base?”).
There is a saying in politics that “you cannot make friends of your enemies by making enemies of your friends.” But some conservatives suspect that is exactly what Christie was trying to pull off in New Jersey. As National Journal’s Josh Kraushaar observes,
“The cult of Christie went into overdrive after Hurricane Sandy hit, when he developed a politically beneficial alliance with President Obama: Praise the federal government’s handling of the recovery and receive ample federal funding. Obama got a reelection boost while Christie used that episode to begin his relentless courtship of Democratic allies in preparation for 2013.
Almost simultaneously, he began attacking conservative elements of his own party, knowing they polled particularly poorly in New Jersey. He enjoyed taking shots at tea-party Republicans in Congress who were concerned about the level of federal spending appropriated for storm relief. He appointed an interim senator who didn’t want to run to fill the late Sen. Frank Lautenberg’s seat, allowing Democrat Cory Booker to win election without serious opposition. Before the storm, he irked Romney allies with a self-indulgent convention keynote address with sparse mentions of his party’s presidential nominee.
How bad is this? According to Adam Hasner, the conservative former Majority Leader of the Florida House of Representatives, it’s reminiscent of another former governor.
“This is the exact same dynamic that sunk Charlie Crist,” says Hasner. “He abandoned the right to appeal to independents and Democrats, and when it came time, the left abandoned him and the right had already written him off.” (Note: My wife previously consulted for Hasner’s congressional campaign.)
Another political maxim is to always “keep a secure home base.” As they say, “there’s nothing in the middle of the road except yellow lines and dead armadillos.” But so many of these clichéd warnings seems to have escaped Christie. So much so that his friend, Joe Scarborough, now says Christie “has to get right with the right.”
The point here is that “Bridgegate” may not be the existential problem for Christie that some suspected. Instead, it may have simply been a sort of canary in the mine that revealed the real danger lurking underneath it all.
Is Christie going to end up like Crist? “Ironic that both began by hugging Obama,” says Hasner. “What’s next, Christie running as a Democrat?