The Chris Christie Backlash Machine Revs Into High Gear

Is the New Jersey governor to blame for Mitt Romney's loss? No, but that won't stop his many new conservative critics.

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As a general rule, it's way too early to start talking about the 2016 presidential sweepstakes. But rules are made to be broken, so here goes.

The Republican Party has an excellent bench for the future, from Marco Rubio to Paul Ryan to Chris Christie, plus plenty more rising stars behind them. It's tough to game out exactly what Romney's loss means for Ryan, his running mate. The smart money seems to agree that his selection mostly raised Ryan's profile for the future, but that he won't be tainted by the loss. The Ryan budget didn't end up being a decisive factor in the Republican loss, and Ryan acquitted himself well as a campaigner and a good soldier (compare that to his predecessor, Sarah Palin, who did well in the former role and tanked in the latter). For Rubio, it doesn't make much difference at all.

The surprise loser appears to be Chris Christie.

Here are conservative writers Ben Domenech and Dan McLaughlin, for example:

And there are plenty of other angry conservatives on Twitter:

Here's Robert Stacy McCain in The American Spectator:

The list of fools who have brought this disaster upon us certainly also will include New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, the gelatinous clown who (a) hogged up a prime time spot at the Republican convention to sing his own praises; (b) embraced Obama as the hero of Hurricane Sandy; and (c) then refused to appear at campaign events in support of Romney's presidential campaign. Good luck with the remainder of your political future, governor. It is unlikely Republicans shall soon forget your perfidious betrayal.

And Andrew Malcolm in Investor's Business Daily:

Beyond the Garden state, conservatives rightly view Christie's comments and presidential hand-holding and hugging as near-traitorous for needlessly elevating Obama's photo op to help stall Romney's momentum just days out. And assist the complicit media in ignoring FEMA's botched local assistance that ran out of water, of all things. "Great job, Craigie."

Christie may still try something in 2016. Oh, look! With Romney's defeat, the road is conveniently clear for him -- and others from the GOP's incredibly deep bench. But Christie will have as much success with that effort as he has with Jenny Craig.

Clearly, the nor'easter headed for the Eastern Seaboard isn't the only storm about to hit New Jersey's governor.

How much of this is deserved? Probably not much. First, there's little reason to believe that Christie acted in anything other than what he believed were the best interests of his state. With Jerseyans suffering through the aftereffects of Hurricane Sandy, there was no benefit to his getting into a petty pissing match with the president of the United States and every advantage to friendliness. These critics seem to believe that Christie ought to have put national-party ambitions before his state's well-being. In other words, he ought to have committed dereliction of elected duty -- hardly a good move for any official. Alternatlvely, they are implying that Christie -- the guy who Mitt Romney chose him to be the keynote speaker at the Republican National Convention -- is a Manchurian surrogate who wanted Obama to win. That's plainly implausible.

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David A. Graham is a senior associate editor at The Atlantic, where he oversees the Politics Channel. He previously reported for Newsweek, The Wall Street Journal, and The National.

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