I finally had an opportunity to see Game Change, HBO’s fictionalized account of the John McCain campaign for president in in 2008 and his selection of Sarah Palin as his running mate. It was really good! Although I was certainly not a McCain/Palin voter, even I was drawn into the drama of the campaign as Palin was selected and tested in various venues. And although it was certainly very critical of Palin’s preparedness for the job of Vice President, it was also sympathetic to her in that she realizes that she’s out of her depth. It portrays her as a very good small-town or small-state politician who knows she’s no policy wonk but who recognizes very quickly that she’s nevertheless the star of the 2008 campaign.
The movie does a smart job of invoking the particularly eventful campaign year of 2008, leading the viewer to understand why Palin was ever considered in the first place, and why she emerged victorious over other potential running mates. (Hint: her extreme abortion politics, which are not shared by the vast majority of prominent Republican women pols, were decisive–at least according to the script, which was based on the book by the same name by Mark Halperin and John Heilemann.)
Game Change called to mind Tina Brown’s portrayal of Diana in her recent biography, The Diana Chronicles, in which a political naif is selected to play a starring role on the national and global stage. According to Brown, Diana comes to realize that her star power and charisma outshine the Windsors, so she mobilizes public opinion to her personal benefit, and toward the end of her life, to the benefit of causes and charities that she supports. Sarah Palin was more than twice as old as the teenaged Diana when she was pushed onto the national and international stage after a mere 5 days of vetting, but she only had 2 months to come to the realization that Diana came to over the course of a decade in public life.
One more point about Game Change: most of the actors are much better looking than the real-life pols and political operators they portray, with the exception of the actors who play Sarah and Todd Palin (Julianne Moore and David Barry Gray, respectively). You have to give it to the Palins. They’re Hollywood Pretty, not Washington Pretty.
Have you seen it? What did you think?
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