Gov. Baker, Chris Christie Attend Bruce Springsteen Show at TD Garden
Like many other white men of a certain age, Gov. Charlie Baker attended the Bruce Springsteen concert at TD Garden Thursday night. Also in attendance was New Jersey Gov. Chris Christie, whom Baker and Lt. Gov. Karyn Polito formally endorsed for the Republican presidential nomination Friday afternoon. While it’s uncertain whether Christie racked up the same food bill as has been his wont at MetLife Stadium back home, it’s abundantly clear that Springsteen—Woody Guthrie loving, working class patron saint of Mahwah plant workers—really does not care for Christie.
Christie is renowned for being Springsteen super-fan, having attended more than 125 concerts. Politico uncovered the governor’s posts in a Springsteen fanboy listserv from 1999 and 2000, including a lengthy one titled, “Brush With Bruce at 30,000 Feet,” which reads more like bad supermarket erotica than something from a guy about to be appointed federal prosecutor. “He was everything I hoped he would be if I ever got a chance to meet him—gracious and incredibly normal in a truly extraordinary way,” Christie wrote. “That was my Christmas gift.”
When Springsteen declined to play his inauguration in 2010, Christie instead employed the B Street Band, a tribute group. The following year, Springsteen wrote a scathing letter to the editor in the Asbury Park Press blasting Christie’s proposed cuts to New Jersey’s general assistance program, which followed his veto of legislation that would’ve temporarily raised taxes on those in the state’s top income bracket.
“The article is one of the few that highlights the contradictions between a policy of large tax cuts, on the one hand, and cuts in services to those in the most dire conditions, on the other,” Springsteen wrote. “The cuts are eating away at the lower edges of the middle class, not just those already classified as in poverty, and are likely to continue to get worse over the next few years.”
In 2012, an undaunted Christie asked Springsteen to play a Labor Day concert coinciding with the grand opening of an Atlantic City casino, which—and nobody saw this coming—the Boss declined. That July, The Atlantic published an anatomy of Christie’s compartmentalized, thoroughly unrequited love of Springsteen, whom he calls a “limousine liberal” whose rise out of the slums of Freehold precisely embodies the Republican by-your-bootstraps hr-story, with cringe-inducing passages like this one:
Christie calls over to his brother, Todd—who made his money as a Wall Street trader—and says, “Attention please, it’s a lecture. Lecture time.” Springsteen begins to mumble in what the music critic Jody Rosen calls his “flat Dust Bowl Okie accent,” and I can’t make out a word he’s saying. I ask Christie if he understands him.
“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.”
…and this one:
Clemons’s death, Christie says, crushed him. “I felt like all the energy was drained out of my body. I just lay there silent on the bed, and [my wife] said to me, ‘I just want to understand what you’re feeling,’ and I said, ‘My youth is over. He’s dead and anything that is left of me being young is over.’”
In the wake of Hurricane Sandy, which destroyed 346,000 homes, killed at least 37, and dealt the Jersey Shore an estimated $30 billion of damage, Christie shared another chance encounter with Springsteen at a telethon. “We hugged,” he said. “He told me, ‘It’s official. We’re friends.'” The following year, amidst the Bridgegate scandal, Springsteen went on Fallon and made fun of Christie.
(Just minutes before Springsteen took the stage Thursday night, the Guardian reported that Christie’s office is refusing to release Bridgegate emails and “critical documents” to investigators. What they have produced has been “unintelligible, deficient, and practically useless,” prosecutors say.)
At a town hall event in 2014, a veteran from Asbury Park, Springsteen’s old stomping grounds, asked Christie to destroy all his Springsteen CDs. “He’s not a friend of yours, Governor,” the vet said. Christie said it’s too late, the CDs have all been ripped to his iPhone, and while they may not agree politically, “I still live in hope that someday, even as he gets older and older, he’s going to wake up and go like, ‘Alright. He’s a good guy. It’s alright. We can be friends.'”
Finally, all the cold shoulders became too onerous a weight to carry. Christie told neckless Fox News host Sean Hannity he was no longer friends with Springsteen, though it remains to be seen whether the two were ever friends in the first place. Instead, Bon Jovi would be his ride-or-die.
The Boston Herald endorsed Christie late last month, praising his willingness to tackle entitlement and education reform. Perhaps this endeared Christie to Baker. Or perhaps, more realistically, this is a neat, little thank you for the $11 million the Republican Governor’s Association, chaired by Christie, gave him in 2013.
But tramps like us, who are we to say?