A hard-hitting new book skewers New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie as a career-long bully, opportunist and phony.
Ruthless Ambition: The Rise and Fall of Chris Christie by former New Jersey State Assemblyman Louis Manzo, left, credibly portrays the onetime early favorite for the GOP 2016 presidential nomination.
“How could a man like Chris Christie get within shouting distance of a seat in the Oval Office?” Manzo asks. “What does this say about our justice system, and about us? If you think you know the whole story of Christie’s rise and later fall from grace, think again.”
His book is a template for a new level of scrutiny for Christie — and for the media megaphone that enabled the New Jersey governor’s election to two terms. After winning by a large margin in November Christie also began in January a term as chairman of the Republican Governors Association. Polling and pundits listed him then as a front-runner for his party’s nomination for president in 2016.
Ruthless Ambition shows that the recent bridge closing scandal was typical of the Christie’s team’s style of operation.
Manzo’s book thus constitutes a blow to Christie’s political career no matter who takes the blame in the end for the specifics of the September traffic tie-ups on the George Washington Bridge. To recap, Christie’s gubernatorial team intentionally tied up traffic on the world’s busiest bridge for three days last September for unknown reasons. The bridge carries commuter and long-distance traffic between New Jersey (via the borough of Fort Lee) and the New York City borough of Manhattan. Christie has denied wrongdoing.
The two previous books about Christie, 51, both written by New Jersey journalists, flattered his leadership. The slant typified Christie’s extended honeymoon with the media during his career as U.S. attorney and as governor.
Until recently, most journalists have portrayed Christie as a centrist who is well-suited to state and national leadership, at least within the GOP, because of his persona as a blunt-speaking fighter for the middle class.
That view is counter to our experience at the Justice Integrity Project. For more than four years, we have reported Christie’s abuses of power as the U.S. attorney for New Jersey from January 2002 until the end of the Bush administration nearly seven years later.
Our research drew from the experiences of Manzo and his 43 co-defendants in a major corruption prosecution that Christie initiated. Manzo fought back and won dismissal of all charges from three indictments by both Republican and Democratic prosecutors.
Authorities in both parties showed an unseemly desire to convict Manzo, his co-defendants and thus vindicate Christie and their other brethren in the tight-knit, bipartisan law enforcement community.
Ryan Lizza, a political writer for the New Yorker Magazine, published over the weekend a long profile: Crossing Christie, What the bridge scandal says about the Governor’s political style, and his future.
The article closely tracks the approach in Manzo’s book, which had been distributed electronically to selected media such as the New Yorker for two weeks. Ruthless Ambition publication was announced this week, with sales to the public beginning June 1. Amazon.com lists the paperback, 396-page book as a best-seller based on pre-orders.
On a radio interview April 9 on the WNYC, Lizza told host Brian Lehrer and the audience, “If you readers are interested in this subject, Manzo has a sort of a Ph.D. on this at this point and his book is very interesting.”