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UNDER THE GUN: Christie Bridge Controversy Exposes the GOP ‘Rising Star’ to New Scrutiny

The brash qualities that have made Chris Christie one of the fastest-rising stars in politics — and a putative Republican front-runner for the presidency in 2016 — are suddenly looming as the biggest threat to his future prospects.

Is he the pragmatic, bracingly forthright leader seen by his admirers, who include much of the GOP establishment? Or is Christie a petty, unprincipled bully, whose only agenda is his own aggrandizement, as his growing list of adversaries say?

“On the one hand, I think he’s got a lot to offer. I think he’s the most able politician since Bill Clinton,” said former New Jersey governor Thomas H. Kean (R), a revered figure who was one of Christie’s earliest political mentors but who has since had a falling-out with him.

“On the other hand,” Kean said, “you look at these other qualities and ask, ‘Do you really want that in your president?’ ”

As a legislative investigation proceeds into the circumstances around a massive traffic snarl on the George Washington Bridge in September — a nightmarish jam that documents show was engineered by those close to the governor in an apparent act of retaliation against a mayor — there is also going to be more scrutiny of Christie’s management style and personality.

Former Mississippi governor Haley Barbour, a voice of the Republican establishment, suggested that as Christie’s national profile rises, he had “better get used to all of this attention.”

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