Put your sacrilegious question to Washington’s wonks, and you’ll hear eyes roll over the phone. Then you’ll hear cascades of breathless praise for the Boss, followed by a tiny shard of logic that effortlessly slices your Gordian knot: People adore Springsteen, and politicians are people.
And what’s your beef with the Boss, anyway? Whether he’s touring the Rust Belt, the Bible Belt, the Garden State or olde Europe, the man gets up there for three-plus hours and sweats his soul. He could be gouging us, but he keeps ticket prices fair, plus he looks ah-may-zing at 62 and still totally rocks, so what’s the problem, buddy? BRUUUUUCE!
Hearing adulation like this can be intoxicating. Or terrifying. But it all speaks to the Herculean responsibilities we’ve heaped on poor Bruce in the past decade. Whenever a new Springsteen album lands, we expect it to embody our values, understand our struggles and illuminate our future. In other words, we expect Springsteen to do what we expect politicians to do, which is probably why so many politicians love Springsteen.
Hey, Mary Hager, executive producer of “Face the Nation,” you love Springsteen. You have lawmakers on the show all the time. Ever meet one who actually dislikes the Boss?
“Not anyone who’s willing to go on the record,” she says.
Rocking out on high at the sold-out Nationals Park on Friday: Reps. Diana DeGette (D-Colo.) and Thomas J. Rooney (R-Fla.), who are holding campaign fundraisers in the stadium’s luxury suites — boxes that regularly cost between $3,000 and $8,500 a pop.
These obviously aren’t the farmers and factory workers who populate Springsteen’s songbook. These are the officials elected to represent them. So do they relate to the little guy? Or do they relate to the charismatic millionaire onstage righteously sticking up for the little guy?
Listen to the lyrics. “They’re about community, they’re about faith, they’re about work — values that folks in each party certainly use when they’re talking to voters,” says Doug Heye, deputy chief of staff for communications for House Majority Leader Eric Cantor (R-Va.).
President Obama may have captured it best in a 2008 campaign-trail zinger: “The reason I’m running for president is because I can’t be Bruce Springsteen.”
After the president wrapped up his acceptance speech at the Democratic National Convention in Charlotte last week, Springsteen’s recent single “We Take Care of Our Own” elbowed its way out of the speakers. (According to Billboard, digital sales of the song jumped 409 percent afterward.) Last weekend, more than 15 staffers from the Obama campaign went to hear Springsteen growl the song during his two-night stand at Chicago’s Wrigley Field. “Was an amazing show,” deputy campaign manager Stephanie Cutter writes in an e-mail. “Went both nights.”