Re: Game Change

Game Change: Obama and the Clintons, McCain and Palin, and the Race of a Lifetime, by John Heilemann & Mark Halperin is such a fast, trashy read, it almost takes longer to say the title than to read the book. The anecdotes are interesting, but the writing is pedestrian. It’s more entertaining to hear the authors in interview, when they can just tell the best stories in the book.

About 2/3 of the book is the Democratic primary , 1/9 the Republican primary, and 2/9 the general elections. It’s so lopsided, it gives the impression that all the available material was assembled as fast as possible, and when they overflowed the allotted page count, the back end of the story was lopped off. Much of the Democratic primaries are dominated by Hillary Clinton stories. The book’s account of the Republican primaries is more like a tale of how John McCain stumbled through it. The coverage of the general election is so sketchy you’d think the result was never in serious doubt.  The book also seems curiously dismissive of Sarah Palin.  The few people who come out looking good are Barack Obama, Edward Kennedy, and of all people George W. Bush.

You really have to keep in mind that the book is all based on who was willing to talk.  Anonymously. It’s like the political equivalent of 4chan. Reading this book with a grain of salt won’t do; you need a sampo’s worth of all the salt in the ocean. Since it’s so much more fun to tell the awful stories, most of the players are painted as lazy, vain, paranoid, wilfully blind, and/or just plain incompetent. If these people are so dysfunctional, how did they get anywhere? How does anything get done?

Oh, right.

It doesn’t.

If only this book were  100% fiction.