“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.

So much going on and so little time to write about it.

1. Wikileaks; as a liberal, what is the party line I am supposed to follow here?

It seems there is one thing Americans of all political stripes have found something they can agree on; Julian Assange.  Politicians and pundits hate him.  My personal views are more nuanced.  Few ideas reside closer to my heart than freedom of the press.  I may not like that these documents were published but Mr. Assange is not the bad guy here.  Neither is the New York Times.  There is a villain here and that’s the guy who pretended to be downloading Lady Gaga and was really trolling for secrets to share with world.  A secondary villain is the piss poor security that let this guy access all these cables in the first place.

Mr. Assange seems to be a bit of a douchebag; arrogant and possibly delusional.  I do not share his worldview but that does not invalidate his right to have it.  US politicians have no business calling an Australian citizen that he is a traitor for leaking anti-US documents.  I also find it ironic that some people who fear the coming of a ‘one world government’ are under the impression that non-US citizens who don’t live in this country can possibly commit treason against us.  I have no idea if he is guilty of the crimes Sweeden has charged him with but see no reason for him not to face them.  It would not make sense for any court on the planet to send him to this country.  It is pretty clear that he would never receive anything close to a fair hearing here. We are just pissed off that we are embarrassed.

The New York Times also seems to have tried to be as responsible as possible when it came to what documents they released and what information was redacted.  Our system of government relies on the ability of the press to print the information they receive.  Again, it is not their job to keep US government secrets hidden away.  That’s the government’s job.

I read today that someone leaked tons of credit cards as a protest against any action against Mr. Assange.  Again, I am all about the freedom of the press but leave my personal credit information out of your protest, please.  That’s identity theft and your outrage does not justify this.

2. Tax cuts for everyone!

I think President Obama is doing pretty good job.  I feel like when he took office he faced what I like to call a Himalayan array of problems; each is gigantic when looked at independently but not so much when compared with each other.

My final verdict on the tax cut plan that the White House has worked out with some in Congress is both the best deal he was going to get and a little too far.  Well, not too far but too far, too fast.  I think the deal on the tax cuts for the uber-wealthy might have been a necessary evil but I would have liked him to publicly fight it.  I think Joe Scarborough has been dead on about this.  I would have liked to have heard him use the term hostage a week ago.  Truthfully, I would like to have heard that before the election.  Here’s the exact wording I would have liked to hear, “As a candidate for president, I said that I oppose the tax cuts for people making over $250,000 a year.  I understand that the definition of wealthy differs in areas of the country where the cost of living is high.  I have asked the Republicans to consider extending all the tax cuts but those on individuals making more than $1 million a year.  They have refused to even discuss this and are threatening to hold tax cuts for the middle class hostage.  We cannot let them.”

That would not have guaranteed anything but would have made the lefties among us feel like he remembers who elected him.  It also may have made if this package was the best they could do, that the lefties in Congress could support this.

This is a minor point, really in the overall scheme of things.  Even more minor is one problem I did have with President Obama’s press statement.  He said “if they are (wondering) if I am itching for a fight I suspect they will find that I am.”  You suspect.  YOU don’t know if YOU are ready for a fight?  Seriously.  You should have a clearer idea of what is going on in own head.

3. Can we all agree that we all want the economy to create more jobs?  Can we get our politicians to skip to the part where they tell us what they propose we DO to make that happen?

Mayor Michael Bloomberg is considering running for president.  Today he gave a speech in which he railed against Washington gridlock, partisan bickering and reiterated his desire to see the economy grow.  He was short on specifics and long on rhetoric.  It may not be fair to signal him out for something all candidates or would be candidates do but something about this speech got under my skin.  I wish we could just stipulate that we all want the economy to improve, kittens are cute and all humans are mammals and just get on with our lives.