Sunday, July 25, 2010

Game Change

Obama and the Clintons, McCain and Palin, and the Race of a Lifetime
John Heileman, Mark Halperin

I have to be just a bit suspicious because this book confirms all of my own impressions of the candidates in the 2008 Presidential election, which I garnered from watching their antics on television. Are the Clintons as strange as they appear to be? Is Sarah Palin, in real life, so much like her portrayal by Tina Fey? Is John McCain really as reckless as he seems? Is Joe Biden genuinely a lovable, stumbling pompous ass? Does Obama actually walk on water? According to Game Change, yes. After doing countless hours of interviews with campaign staff, family members, fellow media folks and such of the principles as made themselves available, Heilman and Halperin have confirmed all of the stereotypes that developed in the media about the candidates, with the addition of some juicy inside stories, never before revealed.

I usually don't read political campaign books or candidate memoirs but I made an exception for Game Change because I heard the authors being interviewed on NPR. John Heilman and Mark Halperin are engaging personalities who know how to tell a story. They make the inside dirt on the 2008 campaign sound very interesting indeed.

One of the most interesting things revealed in the book is the state of disorganization, nay chaos, within both the Clinton and the McCain campaigns. I could not have imagined that Hillary Clinton would tolerate the level of infighting, backbiting and intrigue that went on in her campaign, referred to as "Hillaryland" by the authors. According to the book she practically encouraged this self destructive behavior among her staff. McCain, on the other hand, hired seasoned advisers and then refused to listen to their advice, again, according to the authors.  The book makes a good case that McCain chose Sarah Palin as his running mate at the last possible moment, only because his experts finally convinced him that choosing Joe Lieberman would cause a rebellion among the Republican faithful.

Barack Obama appears to be a calm and unflappable in Game Change as he does on TV, except that he is often quoted as dropping f-bombs to emphasize many of his points. Actually, so are Hillary Clinton and John McCain. This leads me to the conclusion that the political class in America needs to read more literature in order to build a greater vocabulary of colorful language.

Keywords: politics, 2008 presidential campaign, Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, John McCain, Sarah Palin


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