Chris Christie was all over TV last week hyping his book, Republican Rescue, the cover of which, creatively, shows an elephant holding a rescue tube in its trunk.
As the name implies, the GOP is in danger. If not, why would it need to be rescued? The peril for Republicans is Donald Trump and the wacky conspiracy theories the former president seems to inspire.
That is the essence of the book, but before we get there, Christie spends the first part of the book detailing his personal relationship with Trump.
They met years ago when Christie was U.S. Attorney and their friendship blossomed.
When Trump got to the White House, Christie says the now-president offered him many jobs, but not the one he would have taken – Attorney General. So, Christie began spending his post-gubernatorial life at home in Mendham Township.
The anecdotes and observations Christie presents of Trump will shock no one who follows politics closely.
When a very ill Christie was fighting COVID at Morristown Medical Center, he got a call from the president.
A heartfelt wish to get well?
Not really. Christie said the president was concerned that he (Christie) would blame him (Trump) for his getting the virus.
If you needed more proof of Trump’s bizarre mindset, you saw it when Christie related a debate prep session during the 2020 campaign. Christie was playing Joe Biden.
But on this day, Trump wanted to talk about FBI Director Christopher Wray, who the president said was the worst member of his administration. And for that, Trump blamed Christie, who the president said recommended Wray. In the discussion and arguing that followed, Trump left the room. So much for debate prep.
Fast forward to Jan. 6.
Christie, who was home that day, said he tried to contact Trump four different ways in hopes of getting him to do something – anything – to stop what was happening at the Capitol. But he never reached him.
This brings us nicely to the second part of the book – Crazy Talk.
Christie is candid about the dopey conspiracy beliefs and theories that he says are hurting the Republican party, among them Q-anon, Pizzagate ( the belief Hillary Clinton and other top Dems are running a child sex operation out of a D.C. pizzeria) and, of course, the refusal of Trump and many other Republicans to accept results of the 2020 election.
In my view, this is the most controversial section of the book, simply because the problem is probably greater than Christie believes.
In the book and in TV interviews, the former governor opines that he thinks there are enough sensible Republicans who want to look ahead and not be weighed down by Trump and “crazy talk.”
Trump’s poll numbers among Republicans remain high and GOPers who dare defy him – think Liz Cheney – are kicked out of the party. To this, Christie responds that Cheney’s expulsion was the act of the state committee in Wyoming and that the rank and file think differently. In a conservative state like Wyoming? Really?
The book next moves on to Winning Again.
Not surprisingly, Christie recounts some of his successes as governor – taking on the teachers’ union to reform the pension system, bail reform, creating a new police force that drastically reduced crime in Camden and responding to Sandy.
But there’s nothing provocative here. For all the independent thought he offers in the first two sections, the last part of the book is very much standard Republican thinking. Conservatives will like it; liberals will not.
Christie condemns “critical race theory” as something that indoctrinates students when it is mostly a college level discipline. He criticizes corporate America for now leaning left. OK. But for many, many years, it leaned right – if it leaned anyway at all.
He says last year’s controversial election law in Georgia expands voting opportunities. It does in some ways, but it also makes voting by mail much more difficult.
Christie’s blueprint for winning again ignores any talk of climate change, which is all around us. Some Republicans still have a blind spot about the planet’s changing conditions and Christie’s silence on the topic is not encouraging.
As a man who apparently still wants to be president, Christie includes a few thoughts about foreign policy. There probably was no need to do that. In truth, dealing with Russia, China, North Korea and the like is far too complex to be reduced to a few pages
Political junkies in New Jersey will enjoy reading this book, but the key question remains.
Do a majority of Republicans really want to move on from Donald Trump? As Christie puts it, look forward, not backward.
As of now, that seems doubtful.