Chris Christie’s liberal buddy


And while I can give many reasons for why I oppose Christie politically, one piece written about him moved me to think I might enjoy the guy if he were my friend. For those of you who haven’t read him, Harlan Coben is one of the great mystery writers of our moment. His Myron Bolitar series, starring a lawyer/sports agent whose basketball career gets cut short by an injury, is brilliant and at times very funny. I also like the way Coben approaches life, family, neighborhood and kids.

Coben is a liberal, but he explained why he likes Christie in very personal op-ed published in the New York Times shortly after Christie won election as New Jersey’s governor in 2009. Here are a few paragraphs:

Whenever a new kid showed up at school, Chris was the first to greet him. Watch video of Chris on the campaign trail — he still finds the person in the back corner, the ill-at-ease one, and shakes his hand, brings him into the fold. On election night, when I entered his hotel suite, I was that person. Because of some weird hate mail after a TV appearance — I made the mistake of admitting to Sean Hannity that I voted for Barack Obama — I decided not to publicly support either candidate, even backing out of a fund-raiser Chris and I were hosting together.

Chris didn’t look at this as a betrayal. He understood my problem. When I entered the hotel suite on election night, he saw that I felt awkward and, as he did so many years ago on that baseball field, my roly-poly friend rushed over and made me feel welcome.

Cue the big bearhug.

 If Christie does run, I imagine his campaign will e-mail Coben’s piece around in a big way. Coben may be called in to testify on behalf of his friend’s character to groups that are skeptical about him, a class to which I belong. But there was something in Coben’s piece that made me think Christie can walk away from all this – and that he will. And if Christie does run, it won’t be the first time he proved a liberal wrong.

E.J. Dionne writes about politics in a twice-weekly column and on the PostPartisan blog. He is also a senior fellow in Governance Studies at the Brookings Institution, a government professor at Georgetown University and a frequent commentator on politics for National Public Radio, ABC’s “This Week” and NBC’s “Meet the Press.”
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