Chris Christie is, even in moments of tranquility—of which, in his life, there seem to be none—a torqued-up, joyously belligerent, easily baited, and preternaturally exuberant son of New Jersey, so bringing him to a Bruce Springsteen concert is an exercise in volcano management. Christie, in the presence of Springsteen—whom he would marry if he were gay and if gay people were allowed to marry in the state he governs—loses himself. He is, as is well known, a very large man—twice the width of Mitt Romney—but he is a very large man who dances at Springsteen concerts in front of many thousands of people without giving a damn what they think.
We are in a luxury suite at the Prudential Center—the Rock—in downtown Newark, the sort of suite accessible only to the American plutocracy, from which Springsteen seems to draw a surprisingly large proportion of his most devoted fans. (I know of three separate groups of one-percenters who recently flew in private jets to see Springsteen perform at Madison Square Garden.) Certainly not many residents of Newark could afford such a box, and the shrimp and steak that come with it. Christie’s bodyguards from the New Jersey State Police—he will sometimes play aloud on his iPhone Springsteen’s haunting and paranoid “State Trooper” while being driven by state troopers—keep the governor out of the cheap seats, where he says he’d rather be. Of course, he’s not opposed to upmarket seating and grilled shrimp—he’s a vociferous free-marketeer, who, for good reason, is a hero to the hedge-fund grandees across the river. He just likes mixing it up with his constituents, several of whom, by the smell of it, are enjoying high-quality New Jersey marijuana right below us.