Game Change is the inside account of how nasty the 2008 Presidential election got by political correspondents John Heilemann (New York Magazine) and Mark Halperin (Time). The week it was published, the media pounced on the book’s All About Eve scenarios of a combustible Hillary, rat packy Bill, sleazy Edwards, schizoid Elizabeth and cocky Barack. The other prime suspect gets her own chapter titled ’Sarahcuda.’
With seething lines like “How many fucking times do I have to go to fucking New York this week?” from John McCain, this is hard-boiled political reporting.
But the authors are obviously going for more than a revenge expose, even though they cast these rabid politicos as driven as zombies in a George Romero movie.
The real headline from this book is that it is a j’accuse to the political apparatus operating our democracy. This is a cautionary tale of out of control, slash and gore, scorched earth politics with everybody backing out of rooms bleeding.
Skepticism about the hearsay evidence of the candidates nastiest words, thoughts and deeds is a concern. But the authors lay out their need to protect their inside sources, so there are plenty of anonymous quotes. Without checkable source notes, questionable, certainly, in any purportedly factual history of this landmark election.
Indeed, H & H are quick to site media biases, even if they give themselves a pass by only abiding by the investigative journalism method of separate confirmations of key points ala Woodward| Bernstein.
But, no matter, you get the feeling that this would stand up to journalistic scrutiny, and, not insignificantly, no one so far has challenged the book’s most explosive reportage. One even wonders what they left out. There is little doubt that H & H are seasoned political writers and smart enough not to screw themselves.
Game Change is a radioactive page-turner and H & H are otherwise kinetic writers employ witty cliff hangers ala All My Children to tell the tale of titanic proportions.
The authors’ skill at condensed analytical history, their politico lingo and analysis may have changed the game for dusty post administration exposes that disappear in overstocks bins. The hubris makes Game Change the burning bush in the petrified forest of political fairy tales.