I watched the HBO movie Game Change last night. You know… the one that purports to reveal the behind-the-scenes goings on in the 2008 McCain-Palin campaign. I hadn’t planned on watching it, but I ran into neighbors walking their dogs who asked me if I had seen it.
I answered their question with another question: Why would I sit through a movie based on a book written by Democrats and produced, written, directed by, and acted in not only by Democrats, but Democrats who had contributed loads of money to the Obama re-election campaign? My neighbors insisted that I really couldn’t say anything about the movie until I had seen it.
So OK, I saw it. Well, not all of it, rather a little more than 2 hours of it. First of all, let me say that I am not a big fan of “biopix,” movies where famous actors impersonate famous real people whom viewers have seen and heard in real life. I just can’t get past thinking: So there’s Jamie Foxx doing a superb impersonation of Ray Charles or there’s Meryl Streep doing an impersonation of Bill Clinton (Don’t laugh; it may be coming). Julianne Moore and Ed Harris are good actors, but not for one second could I suspend my disbelief that they were Sarah Palin and John McCain.
So now to the movie’s substance (such as it is). Clearly, this is a story told from the point of view of the two professional political consultants who ran the McCain-Palin campaign, namely Steve Schmidt and Nicolle Wallace. Why is that so clear? Because those two are the only characters on the screen for more than a minute who come across as intelligent, informed, and not prone to catatonic hissy fits.
So what was the moment in the show where I couldn’t take it any more? Hints: It wasn’t when Sarah revealed that she didn’t know who the combatants were in World Wars I and II. And it wasn’t when she allegedly revealed that she thought the Queen ran Great Britain.
No, it was when, after the infamous Palin-Katie Couric interview, Ed Harris (impersonating a caricature of McCain) bursts into the office of Woody Harrelson (doing an impression of Steve Schmidt at his best) and whined, “I thought Katie liked me!,” in the tone of a 15 year old whose dream girl had just shot him down.
Let’s remind ourselves. After John McCain graduated from the Naval Academy, he volunteered for just about the most dangerous job any person can ask for: combat jet fighter pilot. And let’s recall that he was shot down over North Vietnam, where he spent 5 and 1/2 years in captivity during which time he was tortured (not the piddly stuff they did at Guantanamo), and when his captors found out that he was the son of a high naval officer and wanted to send him home, McCain refused.
Now here’s the Wikipedia entry for Game Change director Jay Roach:
Roach was born and raised in Albuquerque, New Mexico, where his father was a military worker. He graduated from Eldorado High School in 1975. He received a B.A. in economics from Stanford University in 1980 and later earned an M.F.A. in film production from the University of Southern California in 1986. He directed the 2010 film Dinner For Schmucks, the American remake of Le Dîner de Cons, featuring Steve Carell and Paul Rudd. He did not return to direct Little Fockers, the third installment in the Meet the Parents series, taking a producing role only.
And for the screen writer, Danny Strong:
Strong was born and raised in Manhattan Beach, California. where he would rent videos from Video Archives, becoming friends with Quentin Tarantino who was then a clerk there. “I would just literally sit and chat with him for 45 minutes, an hour at a time about movies, and he got me turned on to all these different movies that 10 year olds don’t see.” Strong studied film and theatre at the University of Southern California.
And the producer Tom Hanks:
Hanks studied theater at Chabot College in Hayward, California, and after two years, transferred to California State University, Sacramento. Hanks told The New York Times: “Acting classes looked like the best place for a guy who liked to make a lot of noise and be rather flamboyant. I spent a lot of time going to plays. I wouldn’t take dates with me. I’d just drive to a theater, buy myself a ticket, sit in the seat, and read the program, and then get into the play completely. I spent a lot of time like that, seeing Bertolt Brecht, Tennessee Williams, Henrik Ibsen, and all that, and now look at me, acting is my job. I wouldn’t have it any other way.”
As McCain said about Hillary’s attempt to create a Woodstock museum or something: I don’t remember Woodstock…I was tied up at the time.
So the closest Tom Hanks (or any of the others involved in Game Change) ever got to a life threatening situation is pretending to be a combat soldier in the movies.
As for the supposed airhead Sarah Palin, I can only say that unlike most of the other big shot women politicians in America, like Nancy Pelosi, Diane Feinstein, Barbara Boxer and Hillary, Palin didn’t have the advantage of having a well-connected politcian father (Pelosi), a talented husband (Hillary), or a fabulously rich husband (Feinstein, Pelosi, and Boxer). If Palin is as clueless as this movie portrays her, she has to be the most successful clueless politician in American history, with the possible exception of that other doofus, Ronald Reagan.
So my verdict on Game Change is the following: It is a bad movie, made by Democrats from the point of view of two professional political strategists who lost a big election and are now trying to rehabilitate themselves by shifting the blame, and in addition, settling scores.