As you must have heard by now, Bruce Springsteen has endorsed Barack Obama, not exactly a shock right now but certainly an amazing step in an evolution I have watched closely since 1972, when I first met "Brucie" and co-wrote the first magazine article about him. For the first few years I knew him I swear I never heard a "political" sentiment escape his lips. Now he has become a new kind of political "Boss."
Move over, Boss Tweed and Mayor Daley.
Springsteen started his political transformation back in the "anti-nuke" days of the late-1970s. Then, when Born in th USA hit, he spoke out and donated a fortune to Vietnam veterans groups, and from there, many other causes, while refusing to endorse candidates. This "political" -- in the broadest sense -- focus continued with public statements and more donations as he recorded his Tom Joad and Seeger Sessions CDs. Now this.
It's true, he did ultimately endorse and perform for John Kerry in 2004, while denouncing tax cuts for "well-to-do guitar players." But backing Barack goes to the next level -- picking a candidate in a primary race, and at a key moment. Springsteen, of course, is a rich man now (he's come a long way since that first piece for Crawdaddy in early 1973 that I helped create) but he retains credibility with the "working-class" kids and adults that Obama is trying so hard to reach. It's clear that he offered this endorsement now at least partly in response to the current media obsession with the "bitter" controversy.
Obama, he now writes, "has the depth, the reflectiveness, and the resilience to be our next President. He speaks to the America I've envisioned in my music for the past 35 years, a generous nation with a citizenry willing to tackle nuanced and complex problems, a country that's interested in its collective destiny and in the potential of its gathered spirit. After the terrible damage done over the past eight years, a great American reclamation project needs to be undertaken. I believe that Senator Obama is the best candidate to lead that project and to lead us into the 21st Century with a renewed sense of moral purpose and of ourselves as Americans."
Bruce did me a solid recently, writing a preface for my new book on Iraq and the media, but his "solid" for Obama -- runnin' on the Barack streets? -- means much more. You might say that Obama just collected one of America's true "super-delegates."
Greg Mitchell's new book is So Wrong for So Long: How the Press, the Pundits -- and the President -- Failed on Iraq.