The Atlantic‘s Jeffrey Goldberg goes to a Bruce Springsteen show with New Jersey governor Chris Christie, then has a sad because mean old Bruce won’t be nice to Christie, who loves Springsteen’s music but despises everything else about him:
Despite heroic efforts by Christie, Springsteen, who is still a New Jersey resident, will not talk to him. They’ve met twice — once on an airplane in 1999, and then at the 2010 ceremony inducting Danny DeVito into the New Jersey Hall of Fame, where they exchanged only formal pleasantries. (Christie does say that Springsteen was very kind to his children.) At concerts, even concerts in club-size venues — the Stone Pony, in Asbury Park, most recently — Springsteen won’t acknowledge the governor. When Christie leaves a Springsteen concert in a large arena, his state troopers move him to his motorcade through loading docks. He walks within feet of the stage, and of the dressing rooms. He’s never been invited to say hello. On occasion, he’ll make a public plea to Springsteen, as he did earlier this spring, when Christie asked him to play at a new casino in Atlantic City. “He says he’s for the revitalization of the Jersey Shore, so this seems obvious,” Christie told me. I asked him if he’s received a response to his request. “No, we got nothing back from them,” he said unhappily, “not even a ‘Fuck you.’”
Gosh, I can’t imagine why Springsteen would keep a distance from a guy who shows him this kind of respect:
“You want to know what he’s saying?,” Christie asks. “He’s telling us that rich people like him are fucking over poor people like us in the audience, except that us in the audience aren’t poor, because we can afford to pay 98 bucks to him to see his show. That’s what he’s saying.”
Wait a second, this is Bruce Springsteen we’re talking about, the guy you adore?
“I compartmentalize,” Christie says.
Christie rolls his eyes. “He feels guilty,” he says. “He feels guilty that he has so much money, and he thinks it’s all a zero-sum game: in order to get poor people more money, it has to be taken away from the rich. I don’t mean to get all serious, but this is what I was trying to say at the Reagan Library” — a reference to the speech, delivered last year at Nancy Reagan’s invitation, that thrilled Republicans looking for an electoral savior. In the speech, Christie criticized President Obama for “telling those who are scared and struggling that the only way their lives can get better is to diminish the success of others” and “insisting that we must tax and take and demonize those who have already achieved the American dream.”
This is when Christie isn’t bragging that all the people Springsteen claims to sing for actually vote for him.
This doesn’t stop Goldberg from whining:
[Springsteen] doesn’t seem to care that Christie is the sort of Republican many Democrats find appealing, or that Christie breaks left on such issues as Islamophobia (he stood up for a Muslim judicial appointee under specious attack for attempting, his critics said, to turn New Jersey into a Sharia state — if you can imagine such a thing) and drug-law enforcement (he is campaigning for a new law that would divert nonviolent drug offenders away from prison and toward treatment). But Springsteen seems actively uninterested in engaging with Christie. When I asked to interview Springsteen about Christie, his people gave me the brush-off.
A couple of thoughts:
First, I thought it was a bad thing when entertainers got involved with politics. It’s not just right-wingers who say that — every centrist in the media told me it was a horrible, horrible thing when Barack Obama had a fund-raiser with hoity-toity Sarah Jessica Parker and Anna Wintour.
Ahhh, but of course it’s not a bad thing when Mitt Romney gets the support of, say, Kid Rock, because that’s just one Real Amurrican backing another.
(“The ikats, kilims and dhurries reinforce the sultry mood of the house,”decorator Martyn Lawrence-Bullard says about Kid Rock’s Malibu mansion. “The effect isn’t specific to one place or period. It’s not strictly Balinese or Moroccan. We were going for fantasy—sexy and luxurious but also relaxed.” Oh, sorry, you’re not supposed to think about that.)
The message is: If you’re a celebrity, it’s OK to be non-partisan, and it’s OK to be pro-Republican — but if you’re pro-Democrat, you’re an obnoxious out-of-touch Hollyweird elitist.
And if you’re a left-leaning entertainer like Springsteen, you’re supposed to do make bipartisanship happen all by yourself. In other words, you’re treated just like a Democratic politician. The other side isn’t expected to make conciliatory moves of its own.