This is a crisis of Limbaughobian proportions: New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie's decisive re-election has vaulted him to the front of the PACs to become the speculative frontrunner for the 2016 Republican presidential nomination.
Among the hand-wringers, this was cataclysmic. This was disastrous. This was beyond doom and gloom among the Torquemada wing of the tea party. Imagine having an actual Republican presidential candidate who has a plausible chance to win?
Before the final votes were tallied in the Garden State, Florida's teething junior Sen. Marco Rubio and Texas' telethon Sen. Ted Cruz, both with their own White House dreams, went into a full-court feather ruffle over Christie's true conservative bona fides.
Rubio got his Buster Browns all scuffed up over Christie's likely dominance in a presidential primary battle, noting he had reservations whether the governor's often brash, combative, too-candid-for-the-room style would play out across a national political canvas.
Of course, Rubio's pouting criticism comes from someone who becomes flummoxed trying to order from an a la carte menu for fear of offending either Column A or Column B.
It was Rubio, a shimmering profile in porridge, who championed his own comprehensive immigration reform bill and then ran away from the measure faster than the captain of the Costa Concordia when things got tough. And yet, Rubio, R-The Red Badge of Retreat, questioned Christie's political temperament? This was like the gunslingers in the Blazing Saddles bean-eating campfire scene casting doubt on Julia Child's culinary skills.
Then Cruz, the Nathan Thurm of the Beltway, took his turn, too, arguing what Washington really needs is a leader with the courage to stand for principle (or principal, perhaps?) — as opposed to a sitting governor in a Democratic-controlled state who actually has to govern?
A leader? Really? Considering Rubio and Cruz have a combined record of legislative accomplishment that adds up to Zero-for-Iowa, we're not exactly looking at principled leadership that would make George Washington whimper with envy.
Not wanting to cede the anti-Christie movement entirely to Rubio and Cruz, the Katzenjammer Kids of the Koch brothers, Texas Gov. Rick Perry held forth noting that being a conservative in New Jersey is not the same thing as being a conservative acceptable to the rest of the nation.
Perry, who came off as a one-trick phony during his Ooooops-filled 2012 presidential bid, noted "we're all different states," as if he had just stumbled upon a Texas civics textbook. You may also notice Perry has started wearing glasses, perhaps to try to look smarter? What's next? A cap and gown on the hustings, too?
Is Chris Christie certainly running for the GOP presidential nomination? Of course he is. How could he not?
The governor has to think: "Holy cow! I'm up against a crop of candidates who look like Welcome Back, Kotter sweathogs — only without the intellectual fire-power. Haversham! Book the next flight to New Hampshire."
Christie's apostasy is that he supports sensible gun control legislation, allowed gay marriage to become law in New Jersey and — cue The Phantom of the Opera theme — actually not only embraced Barack Obama when he visited after Hurricane Sandy but said nice things about the president of the United States. Civility? This will never do.
And for that, the tea party with the fringe on top wants to Charlie Crist-o-nize Chris Christie as the Marshal Petain of the GOP.
The recent elections indicated a possible flicker of a Republican electorate may be growing weary of such extremism. And that may explain the tea party's hysterical overreaction to Christie's emergence as a presidential candidate. Think of him as the Dr. Van Helsing of the Republicans more than happy to drive a wooden stake into the heart of the Heritage Foundation.
It will be bloody. But grand fun to watch, too.