Sunday, January 17, 2010


Marc Ambinder predicted that I wouldn't like Heilemann and Halperin's Game Change.  Well, if the excerpt in New York magazine is representative, then Ambinder's right -- not because it offends me as a political scientist, but because it's kinda trash.

The excerpt about the Edwardses seems like an exercise in kicking people who are down.  Yes, they're public figures, and politics ain't beanbag, but making him look like an egomaniacal dunce and her like a bipolar harpy is just a cheap shot.  They can't hit back.  They're powerless.  His reputation is already ruined.  Everyone knows he's a lying philanderer, so what can he do?  Say "I'm not really that egomaniacal"?

Meanwhile, everyone who is a source in this excerpt has some sort of an axe to grind.  Any young campaign staffer who worked for Edwards still wants to be viable in the business and doesn't want to look like the one who sank the campaign, so they make the principals look like the problem.  Now, it may be that the depiction of the Edwardses is an accurate one, and if they regularly abused their underlings it's hard to muster much pity when those underlings get their revenge.  But we really don't know how accurate this is.

From what I've heard, other chapters are pretty rough on the Clintons, Sarah Palin, Rudy Giuliani, and other major candidates, although I think the Obamas come out looking pretty good.  What a shock -- there's no percentage in tearing down the guy who's in power.


Kyle Baker said...

Exactly. There are a couple of parts that I have direct knowledge are not true, but hey, that doesn't sell books.

Axe-grinding...useless. Politics as Days of Our Lives...profitable.

Anonymous said...

McCain says the "F Word" a lot in Game Change.