Remember, the Super Bowl is in New Jersey. “Now people can go to New York and have some fun in New York. I’m fine with that. That’s good. Let them go over there, go in a couple — they have a few good restaurants over there. They’ve got some theater and some other stuff to do, but, you know, in the end, this is about the game. It’s not about all the other stuff. It’s about the game. And when the game starts at 6:30 and the announcers come on, they are not going to say live from New York City, because that would be a lie.” Whatever you think of his politics, he really is amusing.

New Jersey Governor Chris Christie plays table tennis following a news conference at the Boys and Girls Club of Newark Clubhouse in Newark, New Jersey January 27, 2014. The event was held to announce the NFL Foundation's grant to the New York/New Jersey Super Bowl Host Committee's Snowflake Youth Foundation to fund charitable projects throughout New York and New Jersey. REUTERS/Andrew Kelly (UNITED STATES - Tags: POLITICS SPORT TABLE TENNIS TPX IMAGES OF THE DAY) New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie plays table tennis at the Boys and Girls Club of Newark on Monday. (Andrew Kelly/Reuters)

President Obama isn’t even in the game. “As President Barack Obama enters his sixth year in the White House, 68 percent of Americans say the country is either stagnant or worse off since he took office, according to the latest NBC News/Wall Street Journal poll. Just 31 percent say the country is better off, and a deep pessimism continues to fuel the public’s mood. Most respondents used words like ‘divided,’ ‘troubled,’ and ‘deteriorating’ to describe the current state of the nation.  On the eve of Tuesday’s State of the Union address, more than six-in-10 Americans believe that the nation is headed in the wrong direction and 70 percent are dissatisfied with the economy.” With 43-51 percent job approval and 44-42 negative personal rating, he’s looking more and more like a lame duck each day.

Three Senate Republicans are receiving praise for their Obamacare alternative. “This plan is well thought out substantively and politically.  It would cover tens of millions of Americans with private insurance, solve the pre-existing condition problem, inject cost discipline into the marketplace, and begin the process of reforming the nation’s massive health entitlement problems.  And it would do all this without unduly disrupting current insurance arrangements (including employer plans), and without the federal power grab or massive spending and taxes of Obamacare.” Read the whole thing.

While Obama was rushing to claim credit for putting al-Qaeda back on its heels, al-Qaeda was spreading like wildfire in North Africa, a new report tells us: “It is brutally demonstrated by the escalation in violent attacks mounted by a broad range of lawless subnational groups from Mali to Somalia and beyond. These perpetrators, motivated by ethnic, racial, religious, tribal, and national ideologies, include an expanding array of Al-Qaida-affiliated and like-minded extremist groups and their associates, such as Al-Qaida in the Islamic Maghreb (AQIM), Boko Haram, Ansaru, Ansar Dine, Ansar Al-Sharia, the Movement for Oneness and Jihad in West Africa (MUJAO), al-Mourabitoun, the National Movement for the Liberation of Azawad (MLNA), Al-Shabaab, and militant recruits from the Polisario-run refugee camps and other displaced persons. It is of particular ominous concern to the region as well as to global interests that these political and social entities constitute formally or informally a ‘holy alliance’ of ‘like-minded’ movements as well as ‘strange bedfellows,’ operating in an ‘arc of instability’ from the Atlantic to the Red Sea and elsewhere.”

We’ve barely begun the 2016 jockeying, but Ramesh Ponnuru thinks the New Jersey governor will adopt an improved gameplan. “Christie’s chances of winning the nomination seem better than those of anyone else. And his recent troubles may help him insofar as they cause him to discard a risky strategy. Before the last few weeks, he may have thought that after winning the nomination his sheer charisma would lead him to a general-election victory. … The traffic scandal makes it less likely that Christie will go down this blind alley. It has made the downside of his personality loom larger, and so will force him to base his campaign on something else. And because of the nature of the scandal, and the partisan reaction to it, that ‘something else’ can’t just be his effectiveness as a manager of government or as a leader who can reach across the aisle.”

Only a rookie senator with no foreign policy experience and a peculiar worldview would let Hillary Clinton get to the right of the GOP on national security. “Former first lady and Secretary of State Hillary Clinton has been ‘a big proponent of the surveillance state’ and controversial programs at the National Security Agency (NSA), according to Sen. Rand Paul (R-Ky.).”

Maybe it’s time to hang it up. “Andrea Mitchell: ‘Iran Was More or Less an American Ally’ Before Bush’s ‘Axis of Evil’ Remark.” Thunk.