Byline: GAIL COLLINS
Let us count the ways that this week's traffic-jam scandal is actually good for Chris Christie's presidential prospects.
First of all, he proved that he could definitely handle an international crisis that required apologizing when the United States did something really stupid. Like -- let's see. What if the secretary of commerce, in a fit of pique over a Chinese official's refusal to endorse American seafood products, sent a flotilla of cargo planes to dump tons of surplus mackerel on a Beijing highway? President Christie would be terrific! He could apologize profusely while making it clear that his administration actually had nothing to do with the incident whatsoever and, in fact, was itself a pathetic victim of betrayal by a double agent for the fish industry.
And Christie has stamina! On Thursday, he held a press conference regarding the George Washington Bridge traffic-jam fiasco and talked for nearly two hours. Historian Michael Beschloss says he can't think of any actual president who ever went on that long. It was even longer than the longest presidential inaugural address, which involved an hour and three-quarters of William Henry Harrison.
Of course, Harrison died one month into office. But he did not have a personal trainer, and Chris Christie does. I must admit that I had a mixed reaction to the revelation about the trainer. Good for him on the healthy life front. But there really was something seductive about the idea of a chief executive without a physical fitness regimen. Four years bereft of jogging photo-ops or anecdotes from the pickup games in the White House gym.
Anyhow, there are lots of other ways Christie's press conference could be viewed as presidential.
For instance, Richard Nixon had "I am not a crook.'' Chris Christie gave us "I am not a bully.''
Also, during Christie's press conference, he referred to "mistakes'' 18 times. He seemed to be channeling Ronald Reagan, who famously said "mistakes were made'' after his administration got caught secretly helping arm rebels in Central America with money made from selling weapons to Iran.
OK, that was a bigger mistake. Although having associates who create a four-day traffic jam on the world's busiest bridge out of apparent political pique isn't exactly a multiplication error.
Christie expressed confidence that the voters would conclude: "Mistakes were made; the governor had nothing to do with that, but he's taking responsibility for it.'' Here we...