Should Bruce Springsteen Buy Chris Christie a Beer?

By Jeffrey Goldberg

My colleague Clive Crook thinks so, after reading my article from this month's Atlantic about Chris Christie's deep, and unrequited love, for Bruce Springsteen. Clive, who is something of a Springsteenologist himself, argues that the Jersey icon, who refuses to meet with Christie, who is not only the governor of his home state but also one of his most ardent fans (129 shows and counting), is being a bit churlish. Clive says he takes away two things from the story:

First, Christie is impossible to dislike. The man is an original. Second, Springsteen owes him a beer. There's something very petty and disappointing about his refusal to acknowledge the governor's enthusiasm for his work. He's better than that, surely. Take it from Christie.

Far be it for me to suggest that you should read the whole story, but you should read the whole story, to understand the bizarre dynamic between the standoffish Springsteen and the Republican governor, and also to experience what it's like to be in the volcanic presence of Chris Christie. But here's a small taste, a moment in which the governor gets carried away by Springsteen's "Badlands":

Christie's communications director, Maria Comella, whose job it is to contain him, watches with alarm as the governor grabs his community-affairs commissioner, Rich Constable, and his human-services commissioner, Jennifer Velez, and simultaneously bear-hugs and headlocks them. Christie turns from one to the other--his face is maybe three inches from theirs--as he shouts along with Springsteen: "Workin' in the fields / Till you get your back burned / Workin' 'neath the wheel / Till you get your facts learned / Baby, I got my facts / Learned real good right now." He screams the song's immortal lines: "Poor man wanna be rich / Rich man wanna be king / And a king ain't satisfied till he rules everything / I wanna go out tonight / I wanna find out what I got."

He is flushed and beaming. The song ends, and he releases his commissioners, who seem happy to bask in their governor's attention and also happy that he did not crack their windpipes. We're all feeling elation--if the E Street Band at full throttle doesn't fill you with joy, you're probably dead--and it strikes me that this is the moment to ask the governor a trick question: "Do you think Mitt Romney could relate to this? To a Bruce Springsteen show?"

He looks at me like I'm from France. "No one is beyond the reach of Bruce!" he screams over the noise of the crowd, and then screams it again, to make sure I understand: "No one is beyond the reach of Bruce!"

What about Newt?

"He's been married three times!," Christie answers. "He'd get this. You know what I mean?"

Not really, but I accept the point: something about longing and sin and betrayal and the possibility of redemption.

This article available online at:

http://www.theatlantic.com/national/archive/2012/06/should-bruce-springsteen-buy-chris-christie-a-beer/258851/