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BRUCE: Bombastic arrogance or humble determination? Chris Christie’s choice

The impact of Bridgegate on the 2016 presidential election

- - Friday, January 17, 2014

Someone better remind the Democrats and their legacy-media allies about the law of unintended consequences.

The so-called "Bridgegate" scandal has already been the subject of many a political column and commentary, but missing in the analysis is how this unexpected debacle has placed Gov. Chris Christie of New Jersey in a unique and possibly beneficial position he never could have (or would have) deliberately designed.

It's a situation that could unexpectedly save him from himself and actually make him a better, more interesting, and dare I say, more mature candidate for 2016.

For years, I've been a consistent and harsh critic of Mr. Christie for both his political and personal attitudes.

Speaking as someone outside of New Jersey, as part of that larger, national audience he would have to capture if he's serious about 2016, Mr. Christie has struck me as an opportunist standing for whatever will get him elected (who can forget the Obama hug?) while leaving the impression of a man who is tremendously impressed with himself, but regarding anyone else, not so much.

Yet his handling of the crisis has made me curious. Could such an unexpected debacle actually save him from a terminal case of Bombastic Hubris Tinged with Arrogant Bully Syndrome?

In fact, a strange thing happened on the way to the George Washington Bridge: Mr. Christie appeared sincerely reflective and humbled by the unfolding disaster, but he wasn't diminished or paralyzed by it.

He took care of business, fired those responsible and initiated a series of other actions indicating, at least to this rather hostile critic, that he was determined to make things right, and he did so in a personal manner that introduced a focused and respectful Chris Christie.

The even more significant turn of events is the education he's receiving right now, courtesy of the media, celebrities and the system itself.

Arguably, Mr. Christie's arrogance has been fueled in part by a press that has given him the star treatment. We conservatives have seen that before — the media chooses a Republican they want to bolster specifically because they think they can tear him down when the time is right.

John McCain was dumbfounded by that very experience in 2008. He pursued and enjoyed a friendly relationship with the media and expected to be treated well by them when he became the Republican presidential nominee in 2008. To his shock, they turned on him.

If Mr. McCain hadn't been so enamored of the press, he would have had a clearer understanding of the obstacles facing him as the nominee and, ergo, delivered a better campaign.

The mainstream media is more than just biased; abandoning their vital role in this democracy, they've thrown their lot in with the liberals and operate as partisans.

Mr. Christie seemed to have been drawn in by media attentiveness, and his attitude showed it. He now has a unique chance to escape that abyss of false praise and manipulation. All he has to do is turn on the television to see what all those supportive liberals are saying about him now.

Even his hero, Bruce Springsteen, has mocked him on national television about the scandal while performing on NBC's "Late Night With Jimmy Fallon."

Mr. Christie so admired Mr. Springsteen that he admitted he cried after getting a hug from the musician when they met in the aftermath of Superstorm Sandy.

I understand admiration, but this week offers up for Mr. Christie a certain light of day with which to determine what, and whom, should really matter. What an epiphany that would be, and it could even free him to embrace actual conservative policies.

People argue that Mr. Christie has to pander to liberals in order to win and govern New Jersey. Really? I remember a guy named Ronald Reagan winning New Jersey (and almost every other state) in 1980 and 1984, and he did it by believing in and articulating the conservative ideal.

The problem for the media and liberals is Bridgegate is likely the worst scandal they'll get on Mr. Christie, and they played that card far too early. A door has now opened for him to not just survive the scandal, but to emerge as an even more appealing, and actually conservative national candidate.

I want as many great Republicans in the arena for 2016 as possible, and if we can add an enlightened Mr. Christie to that pool, terrific.

The more talented Reaganesque conservatives we have competing for the highest office in the land, the better chance we have of illustrating to Americans how the conservative ideal, not liberal lite, will save this nation.

Tammy Bruce is a radio talk-show host, New York Times best-selling author and Fox News political contributor.