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June 3, 2010

Lindsay recommends: Game change

Considering how little free time I feel like I have, I read this book ridiculously fast.  If you like politics, then this is the sort of book that you will read in the bathroom, while brushing your teeth, waiting for your toast to pop up, red lights to turn green, etc. . . . it really sucks you in even though we more-or-less just lived through the events of the 2008 presidential election.

My friend Chelsey, a Washington insider if there ever was one, has done a proper review of the book, so I’m just going to make a few observations:

  1. No one (!) except the Obamas comes out of this book looking good.  But the interesting thing for me is that I found myself feeling far more sympathetic toward Hillary Clinton than I ever have before.  Sure, this book tells all sorts of unflattering details about her and her campaign, but most of those weren’t news to me.  However, some of the stories showed a more human and vulnerable side (like how fiercely protective she was of her daughter, at first refusing to have her campaign at all) of her than I have seen.
  2. Right from the get-go, you get a stunning sense of just how quick and unlikely Obama’s rise to the presidency was and is.  I could see from Clinton’s point of view how terribly annoying it all must have been — after all, she went out of her way to help him fundraise for his Senate run, talked him up as the future of the Democratic Party, and was something of a mentor and confidante during his first year in the Senate.  It really is just astounding how he gave a speech in 2004 that was his first national exposure and 4 years later he was elected president.  Just astounding.
  3. Sarah Palin, in particular, does not fare well in Game Change.  They suggest that not only was she ill-equipped for national office, but that she may have been completely unstable.  Now I’m not a Palin fan, but I think they give a clue to some of her difficulties when they mention that she had a 5-month-old baby that she would often talk about missing.  I don’t care how rambling you are in interviews and debates, I feel utter sympathy for anyone with an infant whose life is changing so dramatically.

All in all, I think one critic summed up Game Change quite perfectly: “compulsively readable.”



  1. Ooh, sounds interesting. Towards the end of the primaries, I began to feel much more….hmm don’t know what the word is, but I began to really like Hilary Clinton! Also, some times I do wonder about how quickly the President rose to power. I just think it’s so interesting. Anyway, thanks for the review!

    Comment by Emily Tew — June 3, 2010 @ 6:10 pm

  2. Just out of curiosity, why do you think Obama came out at the end of the book so unscathed? Was he really that untouchable and invincible during the campaign? Or are the authors just a bunch of fan-boys?

    I will admit to being sucked into the Obama Mystique (or whatever we’re going to call it) during the campaign – enough to take a chance on an unknown and give him my vote. Since then, however, I have been less than impressed in general and quite disgusted at times. I don’t regret my vote because I’ve always acknowledged, even when hitting the fateful button, that I was taking a risk. But if I were asked to vote again tomorrow, he would not get my support.

    By the way, this book has on my reading list for months. I just haven’t gotten to it yet.

    Comment by treen — June 3, 2010 @ 8:47 pm

    • I have thought about those very questions you posed, Trina, and I have a few thoughts. First, I do think these guys love Obama. So yeah, fanboys. It’s not that they don’t mention anything that could be viewed as a character flaw or political weakness, but they just seem to explain it away more readily than they do for any of the other major players.

      But at the same time, I think he and his people did run the smartest, most efficient campaign. There was lots of dissension in the Clinton campaign that was well-publicized. Similarly, McCain’s campaign almost imploded more than once and did not always make the best decisions (one of the funny revelations that I had never heard before is that they actually found Sarah Palin by googling “female republicans” and the like :)). Obama surrounded himself with savvy people and kept them working together as a team.

      At the end of the day, I also think it has to do with the old saying, “To the victor goes the spoils.” Obama and his campaign weathered some storms, but won in the end, so they didn’t have as many disgruntled people to tell the tales of what went wrong.

      Comment by llcall — June 3, 2010 @ 9:27 pm

  3. As much as I like you and trust you as a book critique, I’d never, ever read a book about politics. Can we still be friends?

    Comment by Nikki — June 4, 2010 @ 11:55 pm

    • You make me laugh, Nikki. I like our differences…did you know I read “Ender’s Game”? It’s like the 2nd sci-fi/adolescent lit novel I’ve ever read. We can learn from each other 🙂

      Comment by llcall — June 9, 2010 @ 8:54 pm

  4. I have WANTED to read this. Now I CERTAINLY will :O)

    Comment by Meg Romney — June 9, 2010 @ 8:52 pm

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