There is much to admire about the HBO film, Game Change, made from the book by Mark Halperin and John Heilemann. There is the Palin-channeling performance of Julianne Moore as well as the terrific work by Woody Harrelson as Steve Schmidt, McCain’s Senior Campaign Adviser, Sarah Paulson as fellow McCain adviser, Nicolle Wallace and Ed Harris as McCain himself. The attention to detail and the blending of actual footage with the actors playing the real life characters is impressive and seamless. The no-fat direction and sharp screenplay certainly serve the source material well too.
However, the predominant emotion I felt while watching the movie was not an appreciation for the very fine work on display by all those involved in this first rate production. No. Instead, I was nearly overcome by a nearly complete sense of terror over how close we came to having an incredibly incompetent neophyte politician within one 72 year old man’s bad health outcome of becoming President of the United States. Game Change does not so much resemble a political drama as it is does an 80′s horror flick. You know, the ones where the killer is on the loose and the only person to survive is the blonde girl who doesn’t have sex? Well after watching Game Change, I–for the first time in my life–feel like that blonde girl.
Sure, we all remember the many verbal gaffes by the 1/2 term Governor of Alaska during the debate, the disastrous Charlie Gibson/Katie Couric interviews, and the extraordinary parody work by Tina Fey on Saturday Night Live, but to see the McCain team trying to coach Mrs. Palin up on World War II while pointing at Germany on a map of the world (and actually saying, “This is Germany“) is something else altogether. As Steve Schmidt put it, “She doesn’t know anything.”
Even worse than that, is the point in the film where the McCain team is cheering the Vice Presidential Debate performance of Mrs. Palin like their team just won the Super Bowl, when in truth, they were just pleased that she didn’t completely crater. In some ways, it may be the most cynical depiction of a political event I have ever seen. They knew she was completely unqualified, but they were only interested in victory. Now, of course, that was their job, but it sure as hell doesn’t match up to the McCain 2008 motto, “Country First.” Not by a damn sight.
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