Monday, March 12, 2012

HBO's "Game Change": Inside Sarah's Brain, There's A 'There' There Somewhere

Lot of brouhaha surrounds the HBO film 'Game Change' starring Julianne Moore and Ed Harris as Sarah Palin and John McCain respectively.

Opinions on the show vary with complaints coming from Republican John McCain who says the film continues "to attack her person" referring of course to Sarah Palin. In an e-mail to ABC News, even Palin herself has weighed in saying "I believe my family has the right priorities and knows what really matters." Typically, I suppose, her comments are oblique and one cannot tell if she has seen the show and loves or hates it. Which has kind of been her problem all along. When asked a simple question, her ability to give a coherent, informed, direct answer simply eludes her.

"Game Change" is based on a book by John Hellemann and Mark Halperin. Palin is not portrayed as evil, just a woman under extraordinary pressure and prone to making ignorant statements, something which was immediately apparent to anybody paying attention to her in 2008. Unfortunately, once her statements put the campaign in crisis mode, McCain and campaign strategists had to support her and get her to memorize correct answers and pivot direct questions to predetermined statements of partisan rhetoric - something she still does to this day.

I recommend watching the show which runs 118 minutes but speeds along thanks to the fine direction of Jay Roach that it feels like it has a running time of only an hour. It is well written (kudos to the ultra-talented Danny Strong), well acted and informative. Also, according to Steve Schmidt, McCain's former campaign strategist (and played with great gusto by Woody Harrelson), it is a "very accurate" depiction of the Presidential campaign of 2008. I found the internal, strategic machinations of the Presidential campaign fascinating, and certainly propelled the drama forward making for a fast sixty minutes.

To comment on the phenomena of the existence of Palin on the national scene is to recognize the foisting of someone that any thinking American knew was simply unqualified to hold the office of Vice President of the United States of America, much less the Presidency, only a heartbeat away.

Lesson to take away from this show? A Vice-President without a working knowledge of the economy, foreign policy, or even basic geography is not what is needed in this country at this or any time. Also, in 2008, it seems the Republicans were willing to compromise the quality of leadership at the top in order to win an election. It was akin to concentrating on fixing a symptom instead of curing the illness. Unfortunately, to capitalize on modern political celebrity became the overriding concern, something they felt Obama had but their candidate (McCain) did not.

A convincing argument could be made that the American people were insulted by having presented and supported before them a representative person who fell very short on basic knowledge in critical areas. Blind support from their constituents was sought setting aside a true and accurate understanding in the name of popularity. This in retrospect proved to be a kind of superficial, short-sighted goal - and at the very least displayed a kind of sliding-scale value system which hurt their party then, and continues to hurt them to this day, every time Palin's name is held in high regard and every time her opinions are held as thoughtful and relevant.

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