As the dream Chris Christie nurtured to become the heaviest candidate ever elected president of the United States melts away more quickly than a Dairy Queen ice-cream cone under a hot July day, the sane national Republicans are slowly, but inextricably, coming to the same conclusion the sane national Democrats came to several months ago.
In 2016, just like 1992, it's going to be Clinton vs. Bush once again on the final ticket for president, only this time the Clinton will be Hillary, not Bill, and the Bush will be Jeb, not George H.W.
Game. Set. Rematch.
But before we go there, back to the shocking demise of Christie as a serious and substantive candidate.
Years from now, when the American Heritage Dictionary is looking for the perfect picture to illustrate the word "implosion" on its pages, it simply will run a picture of the current governor of New Jersey eating a Krispy Kreme doughnut with the caption underneath of: "What, me worry?"
It seems impossible to think of another serious candidate for president whose chances disappeared as quickly as did Christie's during the past three weeks.
Not since the firing of White House Chief of Staff H.R. Haldeman; John Ehrlichman, assistant to the president for domestic affairs; and U.S. Attorney General John Mitchell by President Richard Nixon in 1973 had so many close aides of a major political figure been jettisoned so brutally as when Christie dumped some of his closest aides and political confidants in recent weeks.
Looking like he was auditioning to play the part of Sgt. Schultz from the 1960s sitcom Hogan's Heroes, Christie stonewalled his way through a series of vapid explanations for the traffic debacle, saying essentially, "I know nothing." Otherwise, he could have simply admitted to being wrong to leave his aides with the strong impression that anything and everything short of murder was acceptable in order to exact political revenge from his real and perceived political enemies.
Think about it.
Howard Dean was already sinking fast when he "yee-haaaa'd" himself into total electoral oblivion in 2004, and short-lived political boomlets of 2012 candidates like Herman Cain, Michele Bachmann, Newt Gingrich, Donald Trump and Rick Santorum were just flashes in the pan in comparison to the deep support Christie had in published polling from both Republican and Democratic presidential party voters.
In point of fact, for a while it looked like even the craziest of the Republican crazies, including Rand Paul, Ted Cruz and Marco Rubio, had concluded that a run against Christie in 2016 would be folly despite the fact that many of their political ilk saw his nomination as certain to ultimately result in a repeat of the John McCain and Mitt Romney defeats.
These right-wing Republicans sincerely believe that the reason the GOP lost the last two cycles is because while their party nominees ran to the far right during the primaries, the decision of their handlers to pivot to the center after the primaries was just wrong. They believe had only either or both candidates stayed far right in the final contest, the winning candidate in both 2008 and 2012, Barack Obama, would have gone down to defeat not once, but twice.
Back on planet Earth, however, rational political observers from both parties realize that implementing that strategy would have had as much chance of succeeding as did Gen. Custer at Little Big Horn.
Which leads us Jeb Bush in 2016.
The truth is savvy Republicans know Paul, Cruz and Rubio have less chance of being nominated and elected president than do Mo, Larry and Curly, and all three of the Stooges are dead.
These same Republicans want to win in 2016, and if Christie is indeed down and out, the guy they know who can replace him this cycle is a former moderate governor from a key state (Florida) with good name recognition and the ability to raise big bucks.
Come on down, Jeb Bush!
So there you have it. Clinton versus Bush. Get ready for the rematch.
Michael Goldman is a paid political consultant for Democratic candidates and president of Goldman Associates in Boston.