Ok, I have not read the blockbuster book Game Change, written by perennial Morning Joe guests John Heilemann and potty-mouth Mark Halpern (I kid because I thought it was hilarious when he called President Obama a bad name and was subsequently booted off of MSNBC for a time, I found the former funny and the latter sad). I also never saw the movie Recount. There’s a good reason for this. I worked on the Gore campaign for what seemed to be an eternity and felt I had experienced it enough. I didn’t read the book because, same deal, I worked for Senator Edwards’ campaigns in 2003, 2004 and 2007 (Can we all say “hook, line and sinker”? Good.). I then spent time working on the Hillary campaign and, for good measure, also did some work for now-President Obama. I didn’t feel any great need to relive that.
None of that meant that when Politico did an event “Game Change: A look inside the book and the movie” that I didn’t JUMP at the chance to go. Oh, I jumped. And I went. It. Was. Awesome. And not awesome in a “we just got tickets to Lady Gaga” way or “the Mets won a game” or “we have plans that involve sex with Vinny from the Jersey Shore.” I mean in a “I have to leave the apartment before seven to be on time for a dorky politically driven event that might be covered by C-Span” way. Absolutely, positively, in no way was this a cool in a “someone from Buffy the Vampire Slayer cast will be there” kind of way. BUT IT WAS SO THAT LAST PART.
I guess I knew intellectually that the same person who wrote the screenplay for Recount also wrote the
Game Change screenplay. I might even have known that this person, Danny Strong, played Jonathan on Buffy. I might have known those things but I really didn’t. Really. No fucking clue. So, at 8:00 am a few weeks ago when I had zero coffee in my system and was more than sightly annoyed with myself for being a huge dork, I became an even bigger one in the elevator of the Newseum. That’s when I looked to my left and there was Jonathan from Buffy. OMFG.
While my obsession with all things Jersey Shore may be well known, as are my obsessions with politics, MSNBC, Willie Geist, the Mets, velociraptors, serial killers, Tom Welling, cheese, Fight Club, comedy, 5-hour energy and other things might be well known, I am not sure my old Buffy obsession is. I started watching after it was over but that doesn’t mean I was any less committed. I have two seasons at home on DVD. If Strong had been wearing a “hello, ask me about my work as Jonathan from Buffy” sign around his neck it would not have been more clear who he was. My poor, little, caffeine-deprived brain had a hard time with this development. I didn’t do anything strange, I was just weirded out.
The event itself was a panel consisting of Mike Allen and Maggie Haberman from Politico, Mark Halperin, John Heilemann, Jay Roach (directed the movie), Steve Schmidt (McCain campaign chair, I know you know who that is but I wanted to make sure you knew that’s the one I meant) and Danny Strong. They talked about the challenges of taking the book and making the movie. Why, for instance, does the movie focus only on the Sarah Palin storyline when there were the others in the book? Because, it’s a two hour movie, not a five day mini-series.
Truthfully, most of my life has been spent working in politics on some level. I walked in as 50/50 on working on this cycle as I possibly can be (which to most people would be 90/10 in favor). I walked out thinking that I just don’t have another cycle in me. I asked Mark Halperin about this. I admitted I had not read his book and told him why, would reading the book or watching the movie make me more or less interested in working on another presidential campaign? He had what I think we call a Meet the Press answer (I call it that). He told me to find a candidate that inspires me. I didn’t have the heart to say that as Met fan, nothing inspires me anymore. Well, I didn’t have the heart and I didn’t think of saying that until later.
The person I should have asked that was Steve Schmidt — something that occurred to me at the end of the Q&A portion of the event. Would he be more or less likely to do another campaign after watching the movie? I dunno what he would have said but I know that I did watch the movie and despite what I had heard about him looking so great, he seemed like a giant asshole. My presidential experience does not include being a candidate for either spot but I have been pretty up close and personal with the people who were and it’s a pretty fucking hard thing to do. Say what you want about Sarah Palin — and her lack of basic knowledge of, well, general information, disqualified her immediately to me but she had no idea what she was getting into. Mr. Schmidt did little to change that. And that’s from the account that makes him look good? Seriously, how much of a dick was he in real life? A big one.
To pluck an obscure governor from Alaska and throw her to the wolves that way is mean in ways that I never considered until I saw this movie. And here I thought I knew what I was talking about.
Dear Palin family: All you accomplished by not cooperating with this was, well, you accomplished nothing. Good for you. Well done.