“Game Change” My Perspective

I’m not sure how many folks actually took the time to watch the HBO movie “Game Change” an inside look at the selection and handling of Sarah Palin during the 2008 Presidential campaign, but after listening to the authors of the book, John Heilemann and Mark Halperin, discuss it and the film, I really wanted see it.

I have to say that I was quite impressed by the overall movie itself and especially impressed by Julianne Moore as Sarah Palin and Woody Harrelson as Steve Schmidt. Unlike Palin herself, who probably never saw the movie, I actually found myself sympathizing with the portrayal of Sarah Palin.

I know, coming from me, that is really strange, but just think about it. It is the “Peter Principle” taken to the next level. There is little doubt that Sarah Palin had reached her level of competence as Mayor of Wasilla, Alaska, and her level of incompetence as Governor of Alaska. (For younger readers the Peter Principle was the theory popularized by Lawrence Peter that in any hierarchy a person rises to his or her level of incompetence.) But, when out of nowhere the Republican Presidential Nominee asks you to be his running mate in the upcoming campaign, how many people would refuse.

For a politician, that has to be a dream come true. With a decision to be made in a few days, your head has to be spinning. The reason for this is that it became all about winning the election and not selecting the best VP candidate.

Joe Lieberman was bypassed for Palin at the last moment leading to the the point that the normal vetting process that would go into selecting a VP candidate was never done on Palin because they only had five days to do it.

Add to that, from a national political standpoint she was three steps below a neophyte in knowledge and worldliness. She understood politics Alaska style, a rural state of about 800,000 people many of which are still living in the late 1800’s in the wild woods of Alaska. Most of which think that news is who killed the biggest moose this season or the price of fur pelts. Their world is wrapped up in their state, not in a global sense which become abundantly clear in the movie.

As the movie unfolds it is clear that Palin is excited and eager to please the campaign and John McCain but doesn’t not have a clue as to what she is walking into. It is like watching one of those horror movies when you are sitting there telling the girl on the screen, “Don’t open that door stupid. The maniac is just waiting for you.” She really did not understand what kind of buzz saw she was stepping into and her handlers kept telling her not to worry she would do fine. They did not realize how out of touch with the real world she was.

The characters of the movie do a great job of showing the fact that everyone in the country, even a governor, is not as in tune with the real world as they are. The fact that she did not know that the Queen of England was not the head of state was portrayed as real, as was the issue about Russia being next door to Alaska counting as foreign policy knowledge.

Moore does an excellent job of showing the frustration of Palin trying to absorb a tremendous amount of knowledge in a very short period of time. Trying to get her prepared for two interviews, both of which were disasters and left her and the handlers pointing fingers at each other, is clearly shown from the two different perspectives.

You cannot prepare someone with no knowledge of world affairs for an interview with Katie Couric in a couple of days. You cannot get prepared for that type of interview when you are basically starting from zero. Both sides became very frustrated with each other.

As the campaign wore on there are two complete sides to the story. When left to come out and talk to her kind of people in her own way she really revved up the crowds. When she tried to to stay on script and deal with details it was worse that Dan Quayle trying to spell potato.

Toward the end where many people are saying that she was being a real bitch it was again more frustration than anything else. Her lack of knowledge of how politics and protocol are played in the lower 48 versus doing things their own way in Alaska clashed.

She was determined to give a speech thanking John McCain for asking her to run with him not understanding that you just don’t do that. At the end of a campaign the loser gives a concession speech and the losing VP candidate stands there and keeps their mouth shut which is just not her style.

At that point her frustration with constantly being told what to do and say had hit a breaking point.
All in all I thought the movie was well worth watching. Steve Schmidt (Played by Woody Harrelson) has clearly admitted that the movie was a fair depiction of what went on and that the campaign team was as much at fault as anyone.

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Posted by on March 17, 2012. Filed under Book/Movie Reviews,CRITTER TALK. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0. Both comments and pings are currently closed.
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