Tag Archives: sarah palin

“Game Change” — the 3D experience

Could there be a more DC photo than two political pundits on a stage checking their smartphones? No, didn't think so.

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

You cannot really tell from this photo is of Danny Strong aka Jonathan from Buffy. Seriously. Just take my word for it. I might lie about other things but not Buffy. Or Fresca.

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.


Buffy (Photo credit: agcstoat) There is no reason for this cat to be here but s/he is.

Dear Palin family:  All you accomplished by not cooperating with this was, well, you accomplished nothing.  Good for you.  Well done.

Who knew Sarah Palin was such a Democrat?

You have to love Sarah Palin.  You have to love Todd Palin.  You just have to love anyone with a last name of Palin.  I know I do.  I love them a lot.

Is it her ability to distill an issue to an unrecognizable soundbite that makes no sense?  Well, as much as I love that, no.  Is it her ability to grab media attention that makes her look ridiculous?  Again yes but no.  Is it the fascination the GOP has with her and her lack of knowledge about politics or world events?  No.

I love that the Palins have endorsed Newt Gingrich because he is doing more for President Obama than David Axelrod.  And while I am at it thank you rich casino guy for funding Newt and keeping him in the race.

Look, I have said this before and I guess I am about to say it again, the GOP missed the boat when they didn’t give Jon Huntsman a real chance.  Being sane does not equal being a moderate or liberal.  And I never did thank Governor Huntsman for his comment that gay marriage “doesn’t threaten” his marriage.  Good for you, I have never understood how one marriage threatens another but what do I know?  I am a liberal Democrat who grew up in New York and San Francisco.  Oh, and I like brie and chardonnay, I am a walking stereotype.

Back to the Palins.  They have both endorsed Newt, not sure why Todd thought his endorsement matters.  Then again I am not sure why CNN felt the need to send out a news alert about Donald Trumo endorsing Romney.

The bottom line is that the GOP is giving people with no real standing so much attention and it’s a good thing for the Democrats.

The inexplicable Donald Trump

…or “Then they were down to two.”

Even Larry King was intrigued by the Donald's do.

First Newt Gingrich sais he would happily participate in the debate Donald Trump is hosting with NewsMax on December 27. Then the Donald did a round of interviews proclaiming himself the ultimate king-maker and representative of millions (Millions! Check his web sites if you don’t believe him!Note to Mr. Trump, oer your standards the cast of Jersey Shore is qualified to pick the nominee for a major party for the most important job in the country.) before things began to unravel. Rick Santorum agreed to take part but then, one by one, Jon Huntsman, Mitt Romney, Ron Paul, Rick Perry and the also inexplicable Michele Bachmann declined the invite. Reince Priebus, perhaps the first adult to emerge in a while, said that his support of this train wreck would amount to “malpractice” on his part. Well put, sir.

And for the record, Jon Huntsman was the first to decline and for someone with as much experience dealing with criticism and being in the public eye, the Donald has an amazingly thin skin. Trump called Huntsman’s comments that he “will not kiss his ring or any part of his anatomy” “offensive.” Yeah, Donald, your circus is offensive. That you are still harping on President Obama’s birth certificate — after you said you would drop it once you saw the ‘long form’ version — is offensive. What’s really shameful (and I am part of the problem here but watching him crash and burn twice is truly delicious) is the attention you continue to get and the fact that you are using the job interview to be leader of the free world just another way to get publicity for your reality show. Even the Situation has more class (not much).

All of this leaves me a little perplexed.  Why do we care what the Donald thinks about anything?  We know he likes himself a lot.  A lot more than anyone should.  His official bio describes him this way:

“Donald J. Trump has become the most recognized businessman in the world, and the Trump brand is readily acknowledged as representing the gold standard around the globe. As the pre-eminent developer of quality real estate, his acumen is unrivaled, and the diversity of his interests has set a new paradigm in the world of business. His commitment to excellence is legendary, and his work as a philanthropist is an integral part of his ethos. He is the archetypal businessman, and an icon of New York.”  You can read more of this brilliant rewriting of history here.

I don’t dislike the Donald but when I was growing up in NY, his life was a sideshow for the bulk of the time I was there.  First of all, he didn’t start his business, he inherited a successful one from his family.  He has a remarkable talent for self-aggrandizement but inflates his net worth an downplays his failures (to his credit, a Trump bankrupcy looks very different from most other people’s).  He is great at self-promotion but does that make him qualified to do anything but promote his reality show?


You sure told me

I thought I was so clever. My analogy about how I approach conversations with people who disagree with me seemed so perfect. The assumption I have about most everyone who is active in politics is that we have the same ultimate goal; to make the country a better place. My analogy is that we both want to get to the same place — say we need to get to Safeway. I want to take one road and you want to take another, well, that doesn’t make either of evil, right?

So last week, I was feeling all good about my theory and approach and I tried to explain it to a Republican friend. She looked at me like I had eight heads and a tail — but people like you, she said, want to turn America socialist. You hate democracy. I tried to tell her that socialism is an economic system, that most of the democracies in the world (including ours) are capitalistic/socialist hybrids, that most of Europe, which is more socialist but anyone’s standard has more fluidity and upward mobility that we have (and higher standards of living) and that not all of us view democracy and some socialism as being mutually exclusive ideas. And, at he end of the day, don’t we seriously both want to make the US the best country it can be?

When Paul Ryan released his plan to overhaul Medicare and Social Security, I read it and hated it. Merely shifting the costs of healthcare from the government to the elderly will not impact the actual costs at all — we need real health care reform for that. That doesn’t mean I question his sincerity or his patriotism. I don’t blame Grover Norquist for anything the GOP Congresspeople do — and let me be as clear on this point as I can be, any member of Congress that voted for a tax hike, even after signing the pledge, would still be able to go back to their district and win re-election. Talk about paper tigers.

But I don’t have an ideological litmus test for my friends. I wish some of them had the same point of view.

I am a Democrat because I think out government exists to do for all of us collectively what we cannot do individually. I think a single payer health care system would be more cost effective than the system we have now. I think it would lead to more preventative care and the individual mandate is absolutely necessary for the system to work. I like the idea that my tax dollars go to help people who need it, pay for quality education, build a strong infrastructure and first rate military. And I think if we shifted the burden of health care costs from companies — with the additional step of streamlining costs — to all of us, we would make our businesses more competitive. How is that anti-capitalist? It’s not.

Moreover, I like regulations that keep my air and water clean, make sure the transportation I take is safe and my food is free of toxins and infectious agents. I don’t look back on movies like “Boys’ Town” or the novels of Charles Dickens and think — wow, we had it so good then.

And I like NASA. When President Kennedy reached for the stars, we did more than send men to the moon, we inspired generations of kids to go into sciences. The technological advancements achieved through the space program can be seen everywhere.

And I am an optimist. I don’t think we need a civil war to fix our country because I agree with Bill Clinton when he said “There is nothing wrong with America that cannot be fixed with what’s right with America.”

These are not the opinions of someone who wants us to lose our freedoms or change to a totalitarian state. If I am going to try to see your point, I wish you would make even the smallest effort to see mine.

Reality TV 2.0

Just when I was starting to get worried that season five of Jersey Shore is still a full six months away — how will I get through this rough time? — the GOP presidential candidates have come through.  I am not sure if this qualifies as a real progression from reality TV 1.0 to 2.0 but we have entered a new phase, that’s for sure.

The Cain TrainFor instance, Herman Cain is the newest gift that keeps on giving.  My personal issue with him isn’t his 13 year affair, the allegations of sexual harassment — although they are deplorable, or even his positions on policy.  Granted, the last in that list disqualified him immediately from being someone who would get my vote but he already knew that (did everyone catch him tell a reporter than he “doesn’t need 100 percent of the vote” ???). My real problem with Cain is that he thought he was qualified to run for president without doing even the slightest real prep for  it.  If he cannot read enough to know the issues — or even be able to accurately describe his own ideas, how could he ever govern?  I find it beyond arrogant that he thinks he can govern solely on the strength of his personality.  I met a candidate for the US Senate a few years ago who had never worked on a campaign or in government.  He volunteered on one in college.  He called the move to the US Senate a “lateral move.”  No, sir, it is not.

Campaigns are long job interviews.  If a job applicant answered any interview question with “I will listen to my advisors on that,” they would be laughed out of the interview.  Worse, they would have wasted the interviewers time.  That’s what bothers me about Herman Cain.  The farce of his campaign has hurt the level of discourse and wasted all of our time.

Having said all of that, I have found his train wreck campaign to be as delicious as any of Snooki’s adventures.  And I kind of love it that he is the last person in America to realize his campaign is over.  Love it.