Politicians rarely like to look pathetic, and yet New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie is unapologetically devoted to Bruce Springsteen, the Jersey-born rock icon who doesn't seem to like him all that much. On Tuesday Christie tweeted out this birthday wish:
But every time Christie mentions the Boss, he's reminding us that his idol has mocked and refused to meet him more than once. This isn't bad politically — a new Monmouth University poll found that 48 percent of Jersey residents think his love of Springsteen is "kind of cool" and only 19 percent think it's "embarrassing" — but it's weird to see a politician publicly open himself up to rejection.
As the July 2012 story in The Atlantic he tweeted out explains, Christie's love of the Boss is obsessive, almost spiritual, and definitely pre-dates popularity polls:
This concert is the 129th the governor has attended. His four children all went to Springsteen shows in utero. He knows every word to every Springsteen song. He dreams of playing drums in the E Street Band. ... The depth of Christie’s love is noteworthy in part because most politicians—certainly most politicians of national stature—are either too dull or too monomaniacally careerist to maintain fervent emotional relationships with artists.
At the same time, Springsteen — far more liberal that the Republican governor — refused to meet the governor until November 2012, when they hugged at a Hurricane Sandy benefit concert. Christie admitted to crying about it.
But beyond that bright spot, his Springsteen obsession has only been used against him — in January 2014, Springsteen went on Jimmy Fallon's The Tonight Show to make fun of his Bridgegate scandal (by parodying "Born to Run," one of Christie's favorite Springsteen songs).
Last month, during a town hall, a woman said Springsteen had asked Christie not to use his music, something Christie vehemently denied in his usual aggressive style. Later, he said he hoped Springsteen would come around to the idea of being his friend.
"I still live in hope that someday, even as he gets older and older, he’s going to wake up and go, 'Yeah, maybe he’s a good guy. He’s alright, you know. We can be friends,'" Christie said. It's not hard to imagine an older Christie, retired and living in Montclair, New Jersey off the sales of his memoir (Born to Run) repeating that every now and again.