brian 's Reviews > Game Change: Obama and the Clintons, McCain and Palin, and the Race of a Lifetime

Game Change by John Heilemann
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Feb 03, 10


"great minds discuss ideas; average minds discuss events; small minds discuss people."

the great & average: fuck off and get lost.
the small-minded: enjoy!


1. sarah palin. in a way, she fares quite well. you gotta think about it like this: if one were to invite a chimpanzee over for dinner, when the monkey started flinging its own feces, knocking over bottles, yanking away the tablecloth… one couldn't very well get upset, could they? palin is palin. gotta accept it.

fun, of course, are mccain's strategist's reactions after they realize exactly who and what she is:

"Oh. My. God."
"She knows nothing."


for a while they suspect that she's mentally unstable and hire a doctor to watch and analyze. and, when they question how she is always able to remain calm, to accept it all as it comes, to seamlessly change overnight from obscure alaskan politician to global mega-celebrity, she explains:

"It's all part of god's plan."


2. john and elizabeth edwards. the big myth of the campaign, as understood by the edwards staff, was "Saint Elizabeth" --

she did a great job of projecting an image of holiness, and much of it came down to a few things:

1. she had cancer
2. john cheated on her when she had cancer
3. he fathered a child with a woman he was sleeping with while she had cancer.
4. when asked why voters liked john edwards, this guy dared say what lots of people thought: "I like that he's got a fat wife! I thought he'd be married to a Barbie or a cheerleader."

the reality of the situation, as per this book, is that john is a callow, shallow, self-obssesed and somewhat delusional fuck who carried on an affair with a whacked out hippy partygirl who, upon meeting people for the first time, handed a business card which read: "Being is Free: Rielle Hunter - Truth Seeker"

and elizabeth. whew. she came from a wealthy family. john didn't. she took every opportunity to make john well aware of this fact. regularly called him a 'hick'. referred to his parents as 'rednecks'. one time, a friend asked if john had read a book and she exclaimed, "Oh, he doesn't read books! I'm the one who reads!"

some of elizabeth's greatest hits:

- "Why the fuck do you think I'd want to go sit outside a Wal-Mart and hand out leaflets? I want to talk to persuadable voters!"

- when the staff was having trouble arranging her husband's health care coverage she threatened to cut off the entire staff's coverage until john had his. this attained a good degree of infamy within the campaign as the edwards' were worth tens of millions and much of their staff worked for minimum wage or for free.

- when john admitted to having an affair he continued to deny that the child was his (he knew it was) so that obama would tap him for attorney general and then when the truth came out, he'd already have the job. when elizabeth was asked if she believed his denial, she responded: "I have to believe my husband's denial. Because if I don't, it means I'm married to a monster."

- an excerpt: 'At the terminal, the couple fought in the passenger waiting area. They fought outside in the parking lot. Elizabeth was sobbing, out of control, incoherent. As their aides tried to avert their eyes, she tore off her blouse, exposing herself. “Look at me!” she wailed at John and then staggered, nearly falling to the ground.'


3. john mccain.

an excerpt: "Fuck you! FUCK, FUCK, fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck!!!" John McCain let out the stream of sharp epithets, both middle fingers raised and extended, barking in his wife's face. He was angry; she had interrupted him. Cindy burst into tears, but, really, she should have been used to it by now."

the key to who john mccain became, to some extent, his 'rosebud', was the 2000 south carolina primary in which he was demolished by the bush team. mccain did better than expected in new hampshire and the bush team broke from the agreement not to go negative and created rumors that mccain's adopted bangladesh daughter was actually the illegitimate child of a black hooker. they also told voters that mccain lost his marbles in the hanoi hilton.

mccain couldn't let that happen again. he hadda keep his maverick reputation but had to suck off the establishment; had to, in some ways, become the establishment. it was tough: the rightwing freakshow hated mccain, right-wing radio regularly abused him, the religious right doubted him. so he backtracked on his stance on torture. on amnesty for immigrants. he shut the fuck up about gay rights, abortion, stem-cell research, etc. and he decided that, although he wasn't 100% sure of the surge, he knew he had make it the defining theme of the campaign and make obama look like the unpatriotic inexperienced pussy.

fuck 2000. he was different this time. he was angry. stubborn. cranky. and he didn't like barack obama at all.

y'see, when obama was new to the senate, mccain, as he often did, saw a star quality to obama and approached him with the offer of co-sponsoring a bill to create a kind of bipartisan goodwill. a nice gesture. obama interpreted this as some kind of condescending patronizing bullshit and rejected the offer... with a form letter. fuck that shit, yo. mccain sent obama a nasty letter. and that was that.

when mccain saw the freakshow he helped create… he was appalled. as his rallies became filled with wingnuts screaming out that obama was a 'terrorist' or 'muslim' or 'arab', he knew something had gone wrong. mccain frequently cites for whom the bells toll as his favorite novel. he should've read moby dick. and taken notes.



4. bill and hillary clinton. bill is kind of a charmed guy now, ain't he? pals around with both bush 41 & 43. is universally admired as the genius political brain of our time. and now that the right wing has a new hitler/marx/socialist/appeaser they're free to make good on the 'whores, buildings, and politicians grow respectable with age' theory.

but bill, as we remember, became unhinged on the campaign trail. and hillary was blunt: "i can't control him". her staff created a 'war room within the war room' to figure how to handle bill -- his gaffes, his anger, his overbearing presence, his trips to l.a., miami, and las vegas aboard what the staffers called 'air fuck one'…

the clintons are kind of lovable, but they're also kind of awful. incredibly calculating and scheming and manipulative and they fight real dirrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrty.

revealed is that clinton and bush 43 are great friends. in fact, through much of 43's presidency, he'd call bill and they'd just hang on the phone for an hour chewing the fat. it kinda makes sense, actually.


5. barack and michelle obama. you know how you watch a jimmy stewart movie and you totally dig it but it's too much of a fairy tale? well, obama's kinda like that. by every account he's a real guy. drinks beer, smokes, hangs out… and he looooooves his wife and kids. never any rumors of indiscretions, no edwards or clinton bullshit. guy spends any free time he has hanging with michelle. he married up and he knows it. it's kinda fucking adorable.

yeah, he can be arrogant, but he's not full of shit. and he can fight dirty. for sure. but - and this seems the most unbelievable part of the entire book - he absolutely refused to go for personal attacks against his enemies. when his campaign dug up some bullshit on bill and hillary's personal life that was tested to be effective he nixed it. according to the book's authors obama was genuinely afraid of turning into a bad guy.

and his level of focus? remarkable.
when one of his staffers asked about the mccain/palin team as it started going down in flames, barack's explanation:

"no fucking discipline."


the bit players. everyone loathes romney. i loathe lieberman. biden is, of course, a showboaty bigmouth, but we kinda love his pompous sinatraesque ways. mark penn is like jabba the hut only less charismatic. bush 43 is, at times, stunned by mccain's lack of political acumen. fuck cheney.
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Reading Progress

01/21/2010 page 49
10.94% "palin/santorum '12!" 4 comments
01/21/2010 page 151
33.71% "elizabeth edwards: worst human being"

Comments (showing 1-50 of 52) (52 new)


message 1: by Ellen (new)

Ellen A really, really interesting synopsis of the book, and it affirms what I've thought about Palin (braindead), McCain (out of control misogynist), Clintons (a bit truth challenged), Lieberman (beneath contempt), Obama (practical but ethical), and so forth. Is the book as good as your review?


Joshua Nomen-Mutatio Awesome review!

P.S. Lieberman should be shot.


message 3: by Ellen (new)

Ellen MyFleshSingsOut wrote: "Awesome review!

P.S. Lieberman should be shot."


Flayed, then shot.


message 4: by Ben (last edited Jan 23, 2010 09:17AM) (new)

Ben I like Lieberman more than I like Biden, but I dislike Palin most of all. Romney is a liar and a fake, but I wouldn't be surprised to see him fair well in the non-hick-state primaries in 2012...


message 5: by Ellen (new)

Ellen Ben wrote: "I like Lieberman more than I like Biden, but I dislike Palin most of all. Romney is a liar and a fake, but I wouldn't be surprised to see him fair well in the non-hick-state primaries in 2012..."

Well, when you consider what the GOP has right now, Romney's about the only one remotely sane.

Please don't put "like" and "Lieberman" in the same sentence ever again (...a suggestion, only). Lieberman is a traitor, turn-coat, fuckward/fuckwit, asshole. <--And those are his good qualities. He ran with Gore in 2000 and then would have run with McCain in 2008! I'd love to know what this man's core values are... Currently, he's doing his best to sabotage the Dems.

Sorry about the language. Politics makes me nuts, and the debacle in MA just about did it for me.


Joshua Nomen-Mutatio Ellen wrote: "Well, when you consider what the GOP has right now, Romney's about the only one remotely sane."

Yeah, and that's terrifying.


message 7: by Newengland (last edited Jan 23, 2010 10:28AM) (new)

Newengland Agreed on Lieberman, Ellen. An embarrassment to the State of Connecticut.

As for Brownie, there might yet be a silver lining in his victory. Many are (correctly) interpreting it as "a pox on both your houses," meaning the electorate is tired of both Democrats and Republicans and their childish reindeer games in Washington.

If there's a movement to compromise and getting back to the business of governing, great. But if the Republicans think it means voters want them and their Bushwad politics back, they're sadly mistaken.

Brown's victory was a vote against arrogance in politics -- and that knows no political affiliation.


message 8: by Shelly (new)

Shelly Sweet! That was seriously all I wanted to know. Now I don't have to read the book.


message 9: by Jack (new)

Jack I, on the other hand, feel like I *must* read this book now! God it sounds smarmy! But in the best possible way of course. We all assume these people are raging assholes, and I for one find it weirdly comforting to have that assumption totally affirmed.

Except Obama, of course. Reading your assessment of the book's assessment just makes me feel kind of bad for him.


message 10: by Nick (new)

Nick Black and his level of focus? remarkable.
when one of his staffers asked about the mccain/palin team as it started going down in flames, barack's explanation:

"no fucking discipline."


hell yeah. back to work. thanks for the excellent summary.


message 11: by D. (new)

D. Pow I read the excerpt about Edwards and his wife in New York magazine. What a disappointment that guy is.

Lieberman is a thoroughgoing shit hound, i hate that smug, smirking prick. He tries to pass him off as this moral and devout wisdom keeper when in fact he is a power-grabbing prick. He is a few inches above Dick Cheney in my book of loathing.


Joshua Nomen-Mutatio The guy's wife is a fucking medical insurance industry lobbyist and massive portions of Lieberman's campaign funds come from the same sector. I love how these glaring conflicts of interest get passed over.


message 13: by Eh?Eh! (new)

Eh?Eh! Excellent.

Mark Halperin was just on Wait, Wait, Don't Tell Me! about this book. The authors interviewed '200-300 people in 2-7 hr interviews' and I think Halperin said he knew most of them well. Seems to confirm that people are screwed up but perhaps that our current president isn't just spin.


message 14: by Nick (new)

Nick Black MyFleshSingsOut wrote: "The guy's wife is a fucking medical insurance industry lobbyist and massive portions of Lieberman's campaign funds come from the same sector. I love how these glaring conflicts of interest get pas..."

i advise you to listen to the Top Gun soundtrack, as I am doing now. ahhh, kenny loggins soothes the pain.


Joshua Nomen-Mutatio The fact that you're even possibly doing that right now cheers me up.


message 16: by RandomAnthony (new)

RandomAnthony
An excerpt: "Fuck you! FUCK, FUCK, fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck, fuck!!!" John McCain let out the stream of sharp epithets, both middle fingers raised and extended, barking in his wife's face.

I always hated McCain, but now at least I think he's human.


message 17: by Bram (last edited Jan 23, 2010 01:19PM) (new)

Bram The term "in the _____ lobby's pocket" gets thrown around a lot. But Lieberman takes it to an entirely new level. Just thinking about that guy's history over the last 10 years makes me want tear out my thorax. Every time he speaks now, it's like he must believe that any record of anything he's ever said and done before 2008 has been erased from history and everyone's memory. He makes Cheney look good--that guy's at least somewhat honest in a totally fucked up way.


message 18: by D. (last edited Jan 23, 2010 01:24PM) (new)

D. Pow Here is my favorite McCain story from the website Raw Story:

Three reporters from Arizona, on the condition of anonymity, also let me in on another incident involving McCain's intemperateness. In his 1992 Senate bid, McCain was joined on the campaign trail by his wife, Cindy, as well as campaign aide Doug Cole and consultant Wes Gullett. At one point, Cindy playfully twirled McCain's hair and said, "You're getting a little thin up there." McCain's face reddened, and he responded, "At least I don't plaster on the makeup like a trollop, you cunt." McCain's excuse was that it had been a long day. If elected president of the United States, McCain would have many long days.

Bram, I think you are right about Cheney. At least the man has the courage of his convictions. Lieberman has none.


Joshua Nomen-Mutatio Sums up the campaign:








message 20: by David (new)

David Okay, now let's talk about boobies and farting.


Joshua Nomen-Mutatio I saw it, Editor. It made me want to throw my hands in the air and vote Palin/Plumber '12.


message 22: by Stephen (new)

Stephen At least you didn't read the damn book on an elitist eReader, "Oh I can afford outrageous electronics they haven't even perfected yet."

Thank you, Brian. Thank you.

And now. fuck fuck fuck fuck fuck


brian   http://www.slate.com/id/2242523/

hitchens reviews the book.
well, hitchens reviews bill & hillary.
funny stuff.


message 24: by Jen (new)

Jen I guess I should have fucked off and gotten lost. But I voted anyway. Pretty much how I operate during political elections too.


message 25: by Stephen (new)

Stephen Blah blah blah blah blah. You run for president, something is wrong you with fundamentally. We vote, we hope they don't kill us all, we hope the Christian right doesn't go insane and start witch hunts.


message 26: by Jen (new)

Jen I regularly waste my vote. I think next year it'll be for anyone who dares to wear green instead of navy blue. Or maybe just anti-incumbent. Yeah, probably that.


message 27: by D. (new)

D. Pow Good link, brian. Frigging Bill Clinton never ceases to amaze me. A monster of ID.

And Michelle Obama can call me whitey any old day...


message 28: by Stephen (new)

Stephen D has a crush on the First Lady?


message 29: by Eh?Eh! (new)

Eh?Eh! Don't we all?


message 30: by Stephen (new)

Stephen I have a crush on that new Republican Senator from Mass.. He's a hotty pants. Even though I generally loathe republican politics, I like him.


message 31: by Lobstergirl (new)

Lobstergirl and his level of focus? remarkable.
when one of his staffers asked about the mccain/palin team as it started going down in flames, barack's explanation:

"no fucking discipline."


So now that healthcare reform might be going down in flames....where's Barack's fucking discipline? Or are Barack's failures due to something else? You need more than discipline to be successful.

Also: These guys (Halperin and Heilemann) are tools. Halperin is the same guy who wrote (with John Harris, also a tool), "Matt Drudge rules our world" and compared Drudge to Walter Cronkite. I trust these guys to get the narrative right as far as I can throw them.

Also: Palin asserting that "It's all part of God's plan." People are making way too much of this. Most Christians believe that what happens to them - to everyone - is part of God's plan. I guarantee you Jimmy Carter believes that becoming President was part of God's plan. Probably Bill Clinton does too. Certainly George W. Bush does. Maybe Barack does. Most Christians also believe that the bad things that happen to them are part of God's plan. Now maybe Palin believes that her destiny is to rule the world, or something. But I don't think non-Christians should read too much into that statement.


message 32: by Jen (last edited Jan 25, 2010 03:57PM) (new)

Jen That comment is part of God's plan too, of course! :)


message 33: by Lobstergirl (new)

Lobstergirl Stephen wrote: "I have a crush on that new Republican Senator from Mass.. He's a hotty pants. Even though I generally loathe republican politics, I like him. "

OMG.

Maybe you and he getting together is part of God's plan.


message 34: by Lobstergirl (new)

Lobstergirl And what was up with him pimping out his young daughters on election night?


message 35: by Jen (last edited Jan 25, 2010 04:01PM) (new)

Jen Aw, come on. Every Dad does that.


message 36: by Lobstergirl (new)

Lobstergirl Point taken. Also, part of God's plan....


message 37: by Lobstergirl (new)

Lobstergirl Stephen wrote: "I have a crush on that new Republican Senator from Mass.. He's a hotty pants. Even though I generally loathe republican politics, I like him. "

You did see the Cosmo spread, right? He's hung like a squirrel.


message 38: by Joshua Nomen-Mutatio (last edited Jan 25, 2010 04:05PM) (new)

Joshua Nomen-Mutatio Kronos is pleased by these acknowledgments of his planning capabilities.


Joshua Nomen-Mutatio Forgive my blasphemy, I meant that Camazotz is pleased by these acknowledgments.


message 40: by Stephen (new)

Stephen Lobstergirl wrote: "Stephen wrote: "I have a crush on that new Republican Senator from Mass.. He's a hotty pants. Even though I generally loathe republican politics, I like him. "

You did see the Cosmo spread, rig..."


He can be the bottom then.


message 41: by Stephen (new)

Stephen Back when I did sex. I was always the top.


message 42: by David (new)

David


message 43: by Stephen (new)

Stephen David is a top too.


message 44: by Buck (new)

Buck Lobstergirl wrote: "You did see the Cosmo spread, right? He's hung like a squirrel."

Lucky S.O.B. God's plan, I tell myself.




message 45: by Stephen (new)

Stephen Lobstergirl wrote: "and his level of focus? remarkable.
when one of his staffers asked about the mccain/palin team as it started going down in flames, barack's explanation:

"no fucking discipline."

So now that heal..."


I'm a Christian and I have no patience for the Christian Right. Greg believe MFSO is a spy for them.


Joshua Nomen-Mutatio How dare you insult my Mayan faith. Quetzalcoatl give me strength.


message 47: by Stephen (new)

Stephen On MFSO, Quetzalcoatl never came back. You can't hide anymore spy.


Joshua Nomen-Mutatio Stephen wrote: "On MFSO, Quetzalcoatl never came back."

Faith is faith is faith is faith.


message 49: by Stephen (new)

Stephen Ah, that is true. And spy is spy is spy is spy.


Alicia Great review! You sum up the major content and players quite well.


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