Christie Is Finally Finished

A Consumerist Review of Chris Christie’s Let Me Finish

Chris Christie’s new book is a fun read—especially the last two chapters and if you live in New Jersey. Mostly he retells stories in which he portrays himself playing important critical roles, as in the recovery efforts from Hurricane Sandy and the famous President Obama embrace that upset his fellow Republicans. Throughout the book he recreates detailed conversations with friends and enemies, which requires a fabulous memory connected to his talent for snappy dialogue. 

Most books written by well-known political figures serve two purposes: make money while name and face are still familiar and ignite potential for another chance at a new high political office, like the presidency or vice-presidency or attorney general–each of which he sought and undoubtedly still wishes for–but failed to get in 2016 from Trump.

His comments about Trump are informed by their long-term friendship–and taking care not to ignite the Twitter-in-Chief to turn on Christie. Given that Christie was thoroughly deceived by Trump in 2016, he comes to the edge of setting off a Trumpstorm when he describes being lied to by Trump–although he never uses that word. Christie depicts Trump telling him he might still be the VP choice even as Pence–already selected–was landing in New Jersey to be on hand when Trump announcement that Pence was the VP choice. A similar game went on for choice of Attorney General, the other position Christie craved. (Sessions got it.)

Trump at least put Christie in charge of The Transition Plan to prepare for the unlikely event Trump would win. Christie also says Trump considered transition plans useless. The book’s inference is Trump never read Christie’s detailed plan. After Trump won, Christie says his plan was trashed because son-in-law Jared Kushner had Trump’s ear with plenty of alternative ideas and people in mind for the transition. Given the conduct of the the Trump Presidency, Christie’s book offers eye-witness testimony to the kind of mismanagement of the presidency that was predictable then as it is real now.

Christie deals at length with Bridgegate but adds no new clarity. That episode would still be problematic for him if he gets another crack at national office. He repeats his lengthy defense of being unaware of the three-day epic traffic jam over the George Washington Bridge, the most heavily used bridge in America. Readers are asked to believe that an otherwise hands-on, action-oriented exec was unaware that three people he had appointed (one in an office down the hall from him) thought up and set in motion Bridgegate on their own. Further, it took three days before he heard that commuters were enduring up to four-hour waits. One of his aides thought it was comical because she said most of the drivers were, after all, Democrats.

His book skips his first term cancellation of the much-needed rail-tunnel to expand access to NYC from New Jersey (and reduce auto traffic). He ran for his first term saying he would cancel it because he claimed there would be mammoth cost over-runs. He thus gets high marks for keeping a campaign promise and low marks for delaying the Hudson River Tunnel that requires 8 years for construction. It is restarting under Democrat Governor Phil Murphy, Christie’s successor. 

The book is smoothly written with help from a talented Ellis Henican whom Christie acknowledges. The book opens a potential new career for Christie: movie producer. There is a movie possibility here, with much of the dialogue already on hand for a satirical dramatization of an “in-your-face” campaigner making a blue state temporarily red until it wakes up broke. Last scene: portly governor snoozing in the sun at the Jersey Shore, enjoying the last moments of his tenure at a beach closed to citizens of NJ. Not incidentally, Christie’s NJ popularity dropped to low teens at the end. And he left no legacy: Now there is a NJ Democrat Governor and 11 of the 12 NJ members of the House of Representatives are Democrats, a change from 6 Democrats and 6 Republicans at the height of Christie’s time in office.

Consumerist Footnote: Governor Christie appointed a Consumer Advocate but makes no mention in the book of any advocation activities for consumers. In Christie’s first term I contacted his advocate to ask if New Jersey was enforcing its own $3,000 fines for Do Not Call violations. The advocate told me they absolutely were but that “privacy rules” forbid disclosure of how much was collected.

Let Me Finish:Trump, the Kushners, Bannon, New Jersey, and the Power of In-Your-Face Politics, Hachette Books, 2019.


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