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So it's been a rough couple of weeks for the stars of the Class of 2009 -- Chris Christie and Bob McDonnell
GOP Governors are off to a scandal-plagued start in 2014. The answer: David Vitter for Louisiana.
Former Virginia governor Robert F. McDonnell and his wife Maureen were charged Tuesday with illegally accepting gifts, luxury vacations and large loans from a wealthy Richmond-area businessman who sought special treatment from state government.

Authorities alleged that McDonnell and his wife received gifts from executive Jonnie R. Williams again and again, lodging near constant requests for money, clothes, trips, golf accessories and private plane rides.

BOOM: Here's the Bob McDonnell indictment
The George Washington Bridge traffic scandal has cost Gov. Chris Christie, R-N.J., in a hypothetical presidential matchup against former Secretary of State Hillary Clinton, a new Quinnipiac poll out Tuesday shows.

Christie – who was sworn in for a second term Tuesday – now trails Clinton 46 percent to 38 percent, compared with a December Quinnipiac poll that showed him in a virtual tie with 42 percent support to Clinton’s 41 percent. His slide is driven heavily by the flight of independent voters, who backed him 47 percent to 32 percent over Clinton last month, but now give Clinton 41 percent and Christie just 40 percent.

Bridge scandal takes toll. Christie crashing in polls. Traffic jam? Slow going for Christie in 2016. No matter how you write it, the Jersey guy who would've had trouble in the GOP primaries before all this is toast now. Just a question of how long it takes people to realize (pundits slowest of all).
This is the #Bridgegate permalink that the Record (@NorthJerseybrk), for some reason, doesn't want you to find.
More politics and policy below the fold.

Kathleen Parker wants you to know that whatever the allegations are about Christie from Hoboken Mayor Dawn Zimmer, true or not, they don't count because they hurt Christie when he was revving up his 2016 run. What really matters is defending Republicans. Timing is everything.

USA Today:

As if a snowed-out inaugural bash weren't bad enough, New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie also took a shot Tuesday from Virginia Republican Ken Cuccinelli, who said that Christie should step down as head of the Republican Governors Association.

"He does not serve the goals of that organization by staying as chairman,'' said Cuccinelli -- the former Virginia attorney general who ran unsuccessfully for Virginia governor last year -- on CNN's Crossfire Tuesday.

Greg Sargent:
National Journal recently noted that GOP attacks on the Affordable Care Act, with their focus on those getting “free health care” thanks to the Medicaid expansion, are akin to the “welfare queen” attacks, and have taken on an element of “class warfare” and ”racial undertones.” Mitt Romney recently claimed he lost in part because he’d underestimated Obamacare’s appeal to “minority populations.” But if such language about the safety net is meant to rally downscale whites against Dems, it’s also worth noting that many poor whites benefit from things like food stamps and unemployment insurance — and, yes, the Medicaid expansion in states where it is being implemented. Even in southern states Kentucky and West Virginia.

The “free stuff” line complements the states rights argument against Obamacare – Dems are imposing it on red states in a bid to use federal power and handouts to create an ever-growing moocher class that will ultimately overwhelm the non-takers. I’m not sure Obama has ever addressed this debate in these terms before.

The Washington Post would do anything for Ezra Klein. Well, almost anything.

For nearly five years, the Post has steered a bounty of financial resources to its star economics columnist and blogger. It has allowed him to have a contributor deal with MSNBC, a column with Bloomberg View, and to write long-form for The New Yorker. It has provided him with eight staffers to keep Wonkblog, his popular policy vertical, flowing with up-to-the-minute charts and analysis. The PR department has promoted him in profile upon profile.

But when Klein proposed the creation of an independent, explanatory journalism website — with more than three dozen staffers and a multiyear budget north of $10 million — the Post said enough is enough. Indeed, Jeff Bezos, the Post’s new owner, and Katharine Weymouth, its publisher, never even offered an alternative figure, sources familiar with the negotiations said.

Replaced with The Volokh Conspiracy?
If you're a professor and you're not tenured and don't have a Washington Post blog I just don't know what to say to you
Lloyd Grove with a Steve Kornacki profile:
Steve Kornacki, the latest source of misery for New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, has been getting worried messages from relatives over the past few days.

“My family has been sending me all sorts of texts about being careful,” the host of MSNBC’s weekend morning program, Up with Steve Kornacki, said on Monday. On Twitter, the National Journal’s Ron Fournier predicted--jokingly--that Kornacki “will be sitting all month in traffic.” And The Daily Kos’s Greg Dworkin, a Connecticut Democrat, tweeted mock-threateningly: “Nice cable show you got there, Steve. Shame if something happened to it.”

“I haven’t really slept,” Kornacki told me. “I was going to sleep during the day, but now I’m not going to be able to. I’m still working the phones, trying to see what else is put out there--if there are any more angles in particular on this Christie story.”

Indictment against McDonnells is astonishing read, w/Maureen at the center of case. Her $10,999 Oscar de la Renta dress is tip of iceburg.
And Greg Sargent again, looking at a piece by Alan Abramowitz:
I’m not one who thinks that current demographic trends portend a certain electoral realignment that will all but put the presidency out of reach for Republicans in 2016. In their book on the 2012 election, John Sides and Lynn Vavreck detail a host of reasons why such predictions very well may not pan out.

That said, analyses like these from Abramowitz underscore yet again just how large a gamble Republicans are taking by failing to moderate on issues from immigration to gay rights, and by remaining wedded to a Tea Party worldview “in which virtually every reference to government is negative, disparaging, and denigrating,” as Michael Gerson and Peter Wehner put it. As they note, many of today’s Republicans, for reasons rooted in short term political expediency, have invested an enormous amount in the idea that the Obama agenda represents a frighteningly radical and destructive break with the country’s founding values — a threat to American freedom itself – an unhinged assessment that has left no room for them to articulate a “positive governing vision.” Yet as Abramowitz points out, growing segments of the electorate want government to play an activist, interventionist role.

John Sides:
This gets at my concern about what would happen to the GOP if immigration reform fails.  I am not someone who believes that the 2008 and 2012 elections—and Obama’s success in winning Latinos votes—mean we are heading to a Democratic dynasty in the White House.   There are plenty of other reasons why Republicans may win presidential elections and other elections even if they do not immediately broaden their appeal to Latino voters.

But part of my skepticism about the Democratic dynasty is predicated on the notion that, over the longer run, parties aren’t irrational.  They adapt to secular trends in the country—shifting public attitudes on certain issues (like gay marriage), shifting demographics, etc.  Or they adapt enough that those trends won’t prove fatal and then they can go on to win (or lose) elections based on other things, like the cyclical trends in economic fundamentals.  This prevents dynasties from occurring.

If I were the GOP, I’d be thinking about the long game.

What's the resale value of a silver Rolex engraved "71st Governor of Virginia"?
Taegan Goddard in conversation with GOP strategist Mike Murphy:
Republicans' presidential hopes rest on nominating someone with broad appeal. But that's easier said than done. After center-right presidential nominees John McCain in 2008 and Mitt Romney in 2012 lost their general election bids, conservatives argued that Republicans should have nominated an ideologically pure candidate. But Romney had to adopt several conservative litmus-test positions just to win the nomination, alienating swing voters in the process, Murphy said. Primary voters have to let their nominee hold more widely acceptable policies for the GOP to win in November 2016. Otherwise, Republicans will suffer Democrats' fate when they nominated far-left candidate George McGovern in 1972, Murphy said: "If we have a purity primary, we could nominate our McGovern and hand over the White House to Elizabeth Warren or Hillary Clinton or whoever their nominee is."
The toll of the anti-vaccine movement, in one devastating graph:
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