- The Washington Times - Thursday, January 9, 2014

The bridge scandal has exacted a mighty hefty toll on New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, and it has galvanized his friends, his foes and the press while melodrama and political peril hang in the balance.

“This is pretty significant. The public doesn’t like it when politicians screw up traffic. But I wonder if there are any more revelations? That’s the big question,” Republican strategist John Feehery tells Inside the Beltway. “The Democrats have a vested interest in throwing this guy under the bus, in stretching this out as far as possible and extending it beyond ‘Bridgegate.’”

Ah, but nimble Democrats are also eager to use Mr. Christie’s woes for a little fundraising.

“Keep Christie away from the White House,” trumpets an aggressive new email to party loyalists from Mo Elleithee, communications director for the Democratic National Committee.

“This may have started as a local news story about a traffic jam, but it’s so much more. It’s about who Chris Christie is, and the kind of spiteful, costly, and damaging failures of leadership Americans can expect from him,” he continues. “Before the next campaign starts, we need to make sure that Americans across the country know the real Chris Christie, and that Democrats have the resources to keep him out of national office.”

Mr. Feehery says that the press will see to it that we have a Christie-centric world for now. “The whole controversy gives this story legs. Gov. Christie makes for good press, he’s a compelling figure, and one that some would love to tear down,” the strategist says.

There’s some selective conclusions. “The press agonizes over ‘culture’ of Christie’s administration after dismissing ‘culture’ of Obama’s White House,” points out Mediaite analyst Noah Rothman.

Meanwhile, the media frenzy is on. In less than 24 hours, networks devoted 44 times more coverage to Mr. Christie’s traffic scandal than was given in the last six months to President Obama’s IRS controversy, declares Scott Whitlock, a vigilant analyst for the Media Research Center. In its short life, “Bridgegate” warranted 88 minutes of coverage on ABC, NBC and CBS.

“Since July 1, these same networks managed a scant two minutes and eight seconds for the IRS targeting of tea party groups,” Mr. Whitlock says.

And from Fark.com, the waggish news aggregator, comes this headline: “It been a full day since the scandal broke wide open, so that means it’s time to talk about the Christie comeback.”

A WELL-HEELED CONGRESS

Could they possibly understand, say, the everyman’s coupon-clipping or two-for-one sales? For the first time in American history, most members of Congress are millionaires, says a Center for Responsive Politics analysis of their personal financial disclosures,

Of 534 current members of Congress, at least 268 had an average net worth of $1 million or more in 2012. Last year only 257 members, or about 48 percent of lawmakers, had a median net worth of at least $1 million, the analysis found. The median net worth as of the May filing deadline was $1,008,767 — up from last year when it was $966,000.

“Members of Congress have long been far wealthier than the typical American, but the fact that now a majority of members — albeit just a hair over 50 percent — are millionaires represents a watershed moment at a time when lawmakers are debating issues like unemployment benefits, food stamps and the minimum wage, which affect people with far fewer resources, as well as considering an overhaul of the tax code,” the study said.

“Despite the fact that polls show how dissatisfied Americans are with Congress overall, there’s been no change in our appetite to elect affluent politicians to represent our concerns in Washington,” says Sheila Krumholz, executive director of the center.

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