If you haven’t picked it up yet, Game Change, an expose of the politicking behind the 2008 presidential election cycle, is an interesting look at how elections are won nowadays. While I might have some political issues with Mark Halperin and John Heilemann, it turns out they are both pretty good writers. Their access, particularly to the inner echelons of the Democrats, allowed readers a glimpse into what may have been one of the most important primary battles in the history of the DNC.
Indeed, the best part of the book is devoted to the Democrat revolt against another Clinton in the White House and Barack Obama’s subsequent meteoric rise to prominence. Whether you like Barack Obama or not, you have to realize that his story is the most important part of understanding the 2008 election. While Halperin and Heilemann are (somewhat predictably) in the tank for the DNC’s new superstar, they do not shy away from showing Obama’s character flaws. It was a far fairer portrayal of the man that I thought I would get, and it definitely had none of the glossy, cover model perfection many news outlets seemed hell-bent on slathering all over the decidedly flawed candidate.
The publishers seemed to agree with my assessment that Obama is the prime important figure of the book as well. The full title of the book in the United States is Game Change: Obama and the Clintons, McCain and Palin, and the Race of a Lifetime. In Britain they went even farther towards illustrating the importance of Obama by titling the book Race of a Lifetime: How Obama Won the White House. Yet, when HBO’s movie version of the book came out, Obama was not the subject of the tale. Neither was Hillary Clinton or John Edwards. Even McCain barely appeared. Instead the story was reduced to two hours about Sarah Palin, Steve Schmidt (McCain’s senior campaign strategist) and his staff – a mere fraction of the 300 page narrative from which the movie was supposedly crafted.