Review of Game Change by John Heilemann and Mark Halperin
Rating *** 1/2
When I was in the sixth grade, my favorite teacher pulled me aside and told me that he saw a future for me in politics. I'm not sure where he got that idea. Maybe it was my constant jabbering. The truth is I've never been interested in politics. So when my wife gave me the book Game Change to read, I was skeptic. Why do I want to read about something I witnessed personally as it was happening? I have to say, though, I did find this book interesting and enlightening.
Game Change covers the most recent presidential campaign. It's a behind the scenes look of the scenes and events that played out before a national audience. Most of what's in the book has been reported elsewhere. But this book brings the whole story together in one long narrative.
I had started the most recent political season rooting for Hillary. I wanted to see a woman as President. My opinion changed after I listened to Obama's speech about race. What I saw was a man who knew how to communicate. And let's face it, communication is one of the primary roles of the President. I liked his philosophy of collaboration. I liked the way he surrounded himself with smart people and made decisions based on everyone's input. Those same qualities I see in him now.
While this is a work of nonfiction, the authors for whatever reason felt no need to cite sources. Having written a work of nonfiction myself, I know how much time it takes to carefully backup facts and details. The lack of source notes diminishes this work in my opinion. If they don't say where they got their information, how can anyone trust what is written?
I will give the authors credit for taking a mixed bag of stories, events, and characters and creating a readable narrative that has a clear beginning, middle, and end. And even though I had read about most of the stories in other publications, it was beneficial to see the stories put into context.
Of all the miscellaneous stories: John McCain's lack of funds, the last minute pick of Sarah Palin, Hillary's fight to the bitter end, it is the John Edwards story that still amazes me. His unraveling has to be one of the biggest downfalls in history. Here was a guy who could just as easily have won the election had things played out a little differently. I can forgive him for the affair. I don't condone it, but it wasn't like he was in a loving relationship. It's what he did to try to cover the whole thing up that bothers me. The book doesn't go into a lot of detail about all that took place. But the one thing that bothered me the most, besides having a trusted friend take the fall for him, was how he used a wealthy campaign contributor to fund his illicit activities (Note: this is not covered in the book).
If I came away with anything after reading this book, it's that there is very little difference between those who run for political office and the rest of us. They're not any smarter. They have their faults and idiosyncrasies. And they make mistakes just like everyone else. So maybe my sixth grade teacher was right. Maybe I should go into politics.