Monday, December 6, 2010

Book Review - Game Change: Obama and the Clintons, McCain and Palin and the race of a lifetime

I was pleased to be offered an opportunity to review the paperback edition of Game Change: Obama and the Clintons, McCain and Palin, and the Race of a Lifetime as part of TLC Book Tours virtual tour.  I read the hardback edition when it was released in January, tantalized, as were most, by the juicy revelations leaked  in the days leading up to the release.   On January 11, 2010, I mentioned having stopped at several book stores trying to pick up a copy of the book; it was sold out everywhere.  For political junkies, Game Change was the equivalent of the latest Harry Potter release, sans the wands and costumes.

Witches, however, were in abundance, at least as we found them in the pages of Mark Halperin and John Heilemann's insiders' accounting of all things campaign 2008.  On the path to elect a candidate with a paper-thin resume, two women Palin and Clinton, were burned at the stake in the press while a third, Elizabeth Edwards, is revealed to be an insufferable shrew.  We've come a long way haven't we ladies?

Halperin and Heilemann reveal Obama to be the improbable beneficiary of a plot among senior Democrats to stop a Clinton nomination.  Democrats such as Senate Majority Leader Harry Reid were fearful a Clinton nomination was one salacious report of a Bill Clinton affair away from implosion.  Indeed, the Clinton campaign was reported to have established a "war room" devoted to containing the threat of yet another adulterous scandal that could derail a Clinton candidacy.  Ironically, the greatest threat to Clinton's candidacy was another love affair entirely; the soppy adoration among DC insiders and the bulk of the liberal media is evidenced by the absence of "dirt" delivered to the authors in their extensive "deep background" interviews with over 200 beltway insiders.

That the failed McCain candidacy frequently targeted Sarah Palin as a scapegoat for an inadequate campaign strategy and an uninspiring candidate has been widely reported from election night onward.  For this reason, I found revelations about Palin, as reported by these same insiders, the least interesting and least surprising in the book.  Oddly enough, it is Hillary Clinton who emerges as the most intriguing and sympathetic personality.  Accounts of Bill Clinton's anger and frustration as he was painted a racist because he criticized the media fairy tale that was Barack Obama, foreshadowed how most would be treated if they dared criticize Obama as well.  Details of the strain and frustration experienced by the Clintons during the primary to the tenuous alliance with Obama in the days post election are worth the price of admission alone here.

Halperin and Heilman include new material in the latest paperback release.  In an afterward they opine on the political futures of Hillary Clinton, Joe Biden and Sarah Palin.  The authors give further pause to those hoping Hillary might make another run for office.  Besides facing an age barrier, Clinton we are told, hates Iowa.  I find talk of a viable Biden candidacy laughable particularly when a second term for Obama seems far from a sure thing at this point in time.  Palin, of the three, has the benefit of time on her side.  We'll all be waiting to see what she does in coming days.  One thing is assured, however, Palin will never be the beneficiary of the laudatory coverage Barack Obama received, nor will she find senior Republicans conspiring to see her elected over the supposed frontrunner.

Reading the book again, in preparation for this review,  I found the book every bit as interesting as it was back in January.  I found different passage more intriguing, particularly after the November midterm elections.   Admittedly, I am a political junkie who finds the details of the improbable election of Barack Obama intriguing on many levels.  With a $10 price tag for this latest paperback release, Game Change: Obama and the Clintons, McCain and Palin, and the Race of a Lifetime seems like a great gift choice for the political junkie on your Christmas list.


  1. I think the best books are ones that even when you go back to read them, you're still interested in what's being said!

    Thanks for being on this tour!


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