Chris Christie’s new book is nothing if not on brand—right down to the shouty, all-caps title stamped across its cover: LET ME FINISH: TRUMP, THE KUSHNERS, BANNON, NEW JERSEY, AND THE POWER OF IN-YOUR-FACE POLITICS.
As advertised, the former New Jersey governor delivers plenty of jabs at political enemies over the course of the book’s 400 pages. Former White House senior adviser Steve Bannon is described as “the only person I have ever met who can look pretentious and like an unmade bed at the very same time.” Later, he writes about a prickly conversation with Ohio Governor John Kasich and concludes, “Right there, I understood why so many people in politics despised” him. Dozens of pages of material are devoted to the presidential son-in-law, Jared Kushner, and his family, as well as a retelling of Christie’s own rise to power in New Jersey.
But beneath all the record-correcting and score-settling—Christie begins his book with an account of being fired as the head of President Donald Trump’s transition team—he offers a defense of the hyper-confrontational style that first made him famous, and later helped make Trump president.
Christie’s argument touches on a broader debate that has run throughout the Trump era. In elite political and media circles, the president’s various affronts to decorum—the name-calling, the vulgarity, the mean tweets and stump-speech taunts—constitute a scandal. To activists on the right (and, increasingly, the left), this hand-wringing among “civility fetishists” is silly and misplaced: What matters, the argument goes, is how politicians use their power, not whether they have good manners.