by Patricia Beard
Politics was a passion in the Todd family; Christie Todd Whitman’s mother and father were both active GOP fund-raisers. The future governor of New Jersey went to her first Republican convention in 1956, when she was 9 and Ike was the nominee, rallied behind Richard Nixon during her teenage years, and hung in instead of dropping out throughout the turbulent ’60s, becoming president of the Wheaton College Young Republicans. Whitman, Beard argues, was simply fulfilling her family destiny when she almost upset Sen. Bill Bradley in 1990 and did unseat Gov. Jim Florio three years later.
Written with Whitman’s cooperation, this rose-colored biography diligently covers the highs and lows of Whitman’s career. But despite the access, Beard provides few personal insights. How did Whitman react to the death of her mother, Eleanor, her best friend and political mentor? We’re told only that Whitman started one of her many scrapbooks, and Beard then moves on to a tedious tally of condolences from ex-presidents and other Republican bigwigs. After 252 pages, the woman behind the photo op seems as glossy and two-dimensional as ever. (HarperCollins, $25)