With all the upheaval at the NSA, the past year has already proven to be one of interesting revelations.

Now we know that not only does the government monitor our phone calls, but they also stop traffic as political retribution on one another. I don't know about anyone else, but the Chris Christie bridge scandal is not really the way I wanted the New Year to start out. I guess the bipartisan budget deal got my hopes up for 2014 (silly me).

But although the September lane closures in Fort Lee were vile and politically motivated in the worst way, I can't help but believe Chris Christie's story on this one.

Though I definitely wouldn't say I agree with him on a lot of social issues, Christie's brashness and no nonsense attitude have always seemed refreshing to me. Given the nature of this political climate, I respect a man who can rise within the GOP and also appeal to voters in a very blue state. Christie is still by far my favorite contender for the Republican nomination in the next presidential election.

As a voter in 2016, one of the most critical characteristics I'll be looking for is how well the candidates can work with their opposing party because, let's face it, we can't continue with the dog and pony show we have all endured for the past few years.

My respect for Christie was the source of my disappointment when the George Washington bridge story first broke.

For me, Christie is a comforting reminder that a politician with fairly moderate ideas can still be successful today, and now he faces being written off as a bully who uses manipulative, petty tactics in order to exact his influence. Although the lane closures were a blatant misuse of power on the part of Christie's advisors and the Port Authority, the governor's response has been appropriate and seemingly genuine. Not only does he seem sincere in his handling of the fiasco, it also seems unlikely that someone so intelligent would be that brazen and tactless.

Christie clearly gave his aides too much leeway and trust. What they did was really horrendous, and it epitomizes the type of frivolous politics that truly appall me. But I find it hard to believe he was behind it; even if Chris Christie is a bully, he's certainly not a stupid bully. You don't get to be a Republican governor in New Jersey by engaging in such petty tactics and then being base enough to joke about them in an email that qualifies as public record.

Some people aren't buying his story, however, and I can't say I blame them.

If I were stuck in traffic for four days in a row because of this madness, you better believe I would want an investigation. But the left shouldn't be so quick to write off Christie as they have been in the past few days. Many are questioning whether or not this will affect how much juice Christie will have for a campaign in 2016. Debbie Wasserman Schultz, the chairwoman of the Democratic National Committee, quickly condemned Christie and prematurely called him a liar.

"For 121 days, Chris Christie disparaged the questioners and later lied saying no one in his office was involved," said Wasserman Schultz last week. "That was clearly untrue given the discovery of emails that came directly from his own top staff. Time's up, Governor."

Though I definitely share Wasserman Schultz's outrage over what happened, she and others need to keep in mind that up to this point, Christie's story has held up firmly. Before people dismiss Christie as a potential for 2016, they need to keep in mind that he is one of the most moderate figures the GOP has to offer at this point.

Even if Christie can come off as overly tough, he at least has some concept of working across the aisle; I would much rather someone like that run than some Tea Party lap dog from Congress.

This week, the Senate will form the special committee tasked with investigating the scandal and subpoenaing more records. Unless they find something that implicates Christie was a player in this mess, we should keep in mind that he could still be one of the most practical options we have in 2016.

Let's just hope he hires staff members with a little more integrity from now on.

Katie Dean is a junior in political science. She can be reached at xvd541@utk.edu.