Saturday, August 13, 2011

Book 4: Game Change

 I love politics. Since I was 16 years old watching Bush debate Gore, I've been enthralled with candidates, campaigns, media and grassroots politics. I love America, I love her promise and I want to know about the individuals who will make decisions about her future.

Also, there's something exhilarating about politics. It's the biggest reality TV show there is. There's so many elements, strategies, personalities, tactics. It's easy to find yourself deep into the minutia before you realize it.

After volunteering my time and working in an official capacity on campaigns since I was a wide-eyed College Republican, I finally took a step back early this year. While I now work with candidates, non-profits and companies on social media and messaging strategy, I don't consider myself a full-time politico anymore and I was happy for the reprieve.

However, after six months away, I find myself being drawn back in. Maybe it's the economic climate or the heightened partisan rhetoric. Maybe now that I don't feel like my career is dependent on the right talking points, I can embrace it more. Whatever the reason, I'm finding joy in keeping up with politics again.

Game Change is written as the behind-the-scenes information on the 2008 Presidential campaign. It's kind of written like a reality TV synopsis: gossip and play-by-play over policy. Written by two reporters and compiled from lots of off-the-record interviews, I took it with a grain of salt. However, the insight was unmatched and it was really interesting to see the candor with which some of the information was given. (I guess that's the benefit of off-the-record interviews.)

Most of the book focuses on the Democratic race because (let's face it) it was more interesting. I did enjoy the McCain section. I was always confused how McCain went from carrying his own luggage at campaign stops (literally) to becoming the nominee. The book didn't shed a lot of light on that, but it did help me understand the campaign structure. I heard horror stories about the campaign's disorganization throughout 2008. From the book, you can see the candidate was never fully sold on running. Sure, he'd be President but campaigning didn't really appeal to him. Also, his staff was cobbled together after his first round of staffers quit when funding ran out. We were left with a candidate who wasn't committed to the campaign and staff that wasn't committed to the candidate. That campaign will never work.

Game Change assumes that you come to the book with a lot of knowledge of the Presidential campaign process and doesn't offer much background on the progress of primary dates or campaign deadlines unless they fuel the story. Also, I frankly found the authors' writing style pretentious. However, overall the book was a great read with enough gossip to keep it interesting.

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