Chris Christie's Bridgegate scandal is real, and his allies in the Republican party know it. And because they know it, they have embarked on a painstaking process to divert attention towards President Obama by bringing up the old chestnuts of Benghazi and the IRS. There is only one problem with their latest shiny-object diversion: it won't work.
The Substance: This is where the GOP is really screwed.
While the right wing pundit's politics are out of whack on this, it's the substance that drowns their ship. First of all, there were no real political scandals in Benghazi or with the IRS. Investigations have confirmed not only that there was no scandal - security, political or otherwise other than the fact that Republicans in Congress refused to provide embassies with the funding the Administration requested - but also that the primary account given by administration officials in the immediate aftermath of the Benghazi consulate attacks were largely accurate.
Even as the Senate Intelligence Committee called the attack preventable this week, its findings plainly stated that the attacks were "not a highly coordinated plot, but was opportunistic," confirming the administration account. There was no cover-up, there was no corruption, and even if there were failure of communications or intelligence, there was no scandal.
The case is much the same with the IRS. The story that IRS "targeted" only right wing groups in their tax exempt status was proven false in subsequent reporting that in the aftermath of the campaign cash floodgates being opened by the Supreme Court's Citizens United decision, the IRS targeted both Left and Right wing ideological groups masquerading as "non-profits" and seeking tax exempt status under overwhelming workload just as Republicans were intent on reducing their staff. Not a single conservative group was ultimately denied this status; only a liberal group was. Furthermore, it is the IRS' job under the law ensure that organizations we subsidize as a people by making them tax exempt serve the community, not pursue a political agenda.
Once again, with respect to the IRS, the only "scandal" was trumped up by the political right and Fox News. In reality, there was no corruption, no cover-up, no scandal, no falsehoods, and most importantly no ultimate damage. No one ended up dead because of IRS' application review procedures, more than can be said about Bridgegate.
Chris Christie's Bridgegate is a real and palpable example of his and his administration's corruption, bullying tactics, and disregard for the people he serves as well as the law. Bridgegate wasn't a mistake. It wasn't an accident. It wasn't a failure. It was a planned execution of punishment as political retribution. When a one-liner email sets into motion a disastrous sequence of events that closes lanes on an interstate bridge, it's not sudden. It's well-planned, well thought out beforehand, and executed to the tee. And it isn't an isolated incident. It was part of a pattern of abuse of power, corruption, and political bullying of and retribution against cities whose elected representatives refused to get on the Christie bandwagon.
And it's not done. Each day, each week, each investigation is going to bring us new evidence of Christie's corruption. The door has only been cracked open so far. Subpoenas are going out for Christie aids, and Christie himself is lawyering up.
Chis Christie can claim continued ignorance of his close aids performing acts of political revenge to benefit him, and he can continue to keep the focus on how much he - rather than the people of New Jersey - was hurt by their actions coming to light. But that defies belief for a reason: no one believes that Chris Christie is an innocent lamb.
The substantive difference between Bridgegate and Benghazi and IRS come down to this: Bridgegate is a real political corruption scandal, the others are not. And no amount of Republican whining on television is going to fix that.