GOP establishment figure Karl Rove said on Fox News Sunday that the Fort Lee and George Washington Bridge scandal that New Jersey GOP Gov. Chris Christie is facing will end up giving him “street cred” with the Tea Party movement.
“There will be reasons why conservatives have disagreements with Chris Christie,” Rove said during a panel discussion with Bob Woodward and Juan Williams about the scandal.
I don’t think the Tea Party is going to seize upon Fort Lee and the George Washington Bridge as their defining difference with Christie. In fact, I think he’s handling to this [sic] – being straightforward, taking action, saying “I’m responsible firing people” – probably gives him some street cred with Tea Party Republicans who say, “That’s what we want in a leader, somebody who steps up and takes responsibility.”
Rove, a strident Tea Party opponent, has seized upon a narrative laid down by conservative Tea Party movement leaders with regard to this scandal: when compared with how President Barack Obama has not held anyone accountable for scandals that have plagued his administration, Christie’s firing of his deputy chief of staff and dismissal of his ex-campaign manager seems refreshing.
For instance, Tea Party Patriots national coordinator Jenny Beth Martin made an argument like that in a statement. “Abuse of power by government officials is wrong, whether it’s closing lanes in Ft. Lee, using the IRS to target political opponents, or waiving the law regarding ObamaCare,” she said in response to Christie’s actually holding a couple people accountable. “Today, Gov. Christie held some subordinates accountable. Time will tell whether this is enough. We’re still waiting for President Obama to hold anyone accountable.”
Former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin, another Tea Party movement leader, made a similar argument regarding nobody’s being held accountable for the Benghazi or NSA scandals from the Obama administration.
Those arguments are true in a narrow sense, in that compared with Obama, Christie’s response to a scandal has been markedly different. That does not, however, mean Christie is going to somehow pick up “street cred” among conservatives for this.
Christie’s gubernatorial administration and people he trusted with governmental power abused that power. While Christie denies having known about the abuse of power, and thus far no evidence has surfaced to contradict that denial, the fact of the matter is that his administration and people he entrusted still misused the power of government for political purposes. Conservatives do not stand for that, and regardless of what actions he has taken or will take in the future to respond, nothing changes the fact that his administration abused power.