So there's Chris Christie - a Republican governor in a Democratic state, an overweight loudmouth who takes on public employees, yells back at hecklers and regularly goes off on reporters.

And at a time when the economy poses danger to every incumbent, his job approval ratings are through the roof. In a new Quinnipiac poll, voters approved of Christie's job performance by a 74 to 21 margin. Even Democrats gave him the thumbs up, 56 to 37 percent.

The reason is no mystery. He's genuine. In a an age when politicians (and most public figures), are blow-dried and message-managed, it's stunningly refreshing to see somebody who says what he thinks.

It's why Ed Rendell was beloved by so many, despite plenty of moments he regrets over the years.

When Christie got heat from other Republicans for failing to be a political opportunist on superstorm Sandy, it made perfect sense to me.

If you're a mayor or governor and you come face to face with people suffering from this kind of disaster, it moves you. And while most politicians would temper their emotions with political calculation, Christie went with his gut, and people noticed.

On this subject, I recommend a great book by political writer Joe Klein, the author of "Primary Colors." It's called "Politics Lost: From RFK to W: How Politicians Have Become Less Courageous and More Interested in Keeping Power than in Doing What's Right for America."

It opens with a description of a remarkable moment. It was April, 1968 and Robert Kennedy was campaigning for president. He happened to be in a black neighborhood in Indianapolis when his staff got word that Martin Luther King had been murdered.

Kennedy got up on top of a car with a bullhorn and gave a memorable speech, informing many in the crowd of King's assassination and reflecting on the moment.

Read the book, and share it with somebody who aspires to public office.