‘Game Change’: A made-up nar­ra­tive from 2 axe-grinders

The Washington Times Daily - - Politics - BY JOSEPH CURL

From watch­ing “Game Change,” this much is clear: (1) Steve Sch­midt is an ab­so­lutely bril­liant cam­paign strate­gist who gave Sen. John Mccain the idea to put “Coun­try First” (it had never oc­curred to the war hero); and (2) Ni­colle Wal­lace is a de­mure, yet qui­etly in­ge­nious, me­dia sa­vant who can han­dle any cri­sis.

Oh, but wait: Mr. Sch­midt ran one of the worst cam­paigns in the his­tory of pres­i­den­tial elec­tions, los­ing to a first-term se­na­tor from Illi­nois with no ex­pe­ri­ence gov­ern­ing any­thing, and Ms. Wal­lace let the en­tire mes­sage of the Mccain cam­paign be over­run by — “Satur­day Night Live”?

I spent a year of my life on the Mccain cam­paign, and I can tell you this: Nuh uh. “Game Change” is a ridicu­lous farce of a movie — even more ab­surd as a chron­i­cle of a ma­jor his­tor­i­cal event — that ap­pears to have been writ­ten mostly by Mr. Sch­midt and Ms. Wal­lace, two play­ers who have ma­jor axes to grind with the higher-ups of the Mccain cam­paign.

Mr. Sch­midt was a long­time loser when he en­tered the Mccain cam­paign, los­ing race af­ter race — he served as com­mu­ni­ca­tions di­rec­tor for La­mar (La­mar!) Alexan­der’s pitiful run for pres­i­dent: Need we say more?

Ms. Wal­lace took a sim­i­lar path, start­ing out in Cal­i­for­nia pol­i­tics, then switch­ing to Florida. Like Mr. Sch­midt, she worked in the Ge­orge W. Bush White House be­fore join­ing the Mccain cam­paign. I was cov­er­ing the White House at the same time; she wasn’t much of a force there, ei­ther.

Pri­vately, she got cross­wise with Sarah Palin al­most im­me­di­ately af­ter join­ing the cam­paign, although pub­licly, she was all aboard. What’s Mrs. Palin like on the trail?: “She works harder than any­one I’ve known in pol­i­tics,” Ms. Wal­lace said. “She’ll go un­til 1 or 2 in the morn­ing, and she’s up again at the crack of dawn.”

Yet Ms. Wal­lace ap­peared on MSNBC (now also a homestead for Mr. Sch­midt), to tell a dif­fer­ent story: She was in shock just “how close we came to hav­ing some­body a heart­beat away from the pres­i­dency so fun­da­men­tally un­pre­pared and un­suited for the job,” not­ing that (Poor Ni­colle!) it was “the most trau­matic ex­pe­ri­ence to re­al­ize that they were work­ing on be­half of some­body who — it’s an open ques­tion whether she is fit to serve, I cer­tainly don’t think she was.”

Now, just to jump back a bit, back to that bus I spent so many days of my life on. The cam­paign han­dled Mrs. Palin all wrong: She was (is) a ma­jor force — ma­jor. She is (brace your­self) bril­liant — but bril­liant in the way no other can­di­date has been since (brace your­self again) Ron­ald Rea­gan. Sit­ting down with Katie Couric? All wrong. Mrs. Palin should have been out more, es­pe­cially with re­gional press. I was aboard her plane a dozen times; never saw her, never asked her a sin­gle ques­tion.

Was she qual­i­fied to be pres­i­dent when she was picked for vice pres­i­dent? Maybe not. But also, maybe so. She’s a nor­mal per­son — she gets it, Amer­ica. Trou­ble mak­ing ends meet? She’s been there. Hav­ing a hard time rais­ing your kids? Tell me about it. Ev­ery­thing you’re go­ing through, she’s gone through.

And her mind is a steel trap. I watched her from be­gin­ning to end. Yes, an Alaska gov­er­nor doesn’t know much about the Korean Penin­sula (nor does an Arkansas or Texas gov­er­nor, for that mat­ter). But man, what a quick study she was. I fol­lowed ev­ery sec­ond up to and in­clud­ing her St. Louis de­bate with Joe Bi­den, and she dom­i­nated the Washington veteran who made his ca­reer on be­ing a for­eign-pol­icy ex­pert.

But “Game Change” fits the main­stream me­dia nar­ra­tive, one now be­ing sold by the two for­mer Mccain aides. She was patently un­fit to serve as vice pres­i­dent, but wasn’t Barack Obama patently un­fit to be pres­i­dent? Cer­tainly seems so; wouldn’t we all be bet­ter off now if Mr. Mccain (shock­ingly still alive) and Mrs. Palin had won in 2008?

The HBO biopic is notably nice to Mrs. Palin — she seems OK, loves her kids, isn’t a cre­ation­ist wacko. But it’s the sub­tle digs that kill: She thinks the queen runs the United King­dom, thinks “Sad­dam” was re­spon­si­ble for 9/11. And there was this shouted ques­tion from a faux re­porter: “What about the al­le­ga­tions that Trig is not re­ally your child?”

The MSM gob­bled it up. “I have lit­tle doubt that what shows up on the screen re­flects what re­ally hap­pened,” wrote David Horsey of the Los An­ge­les Times.

But one thing is clear: The Obama team is ter­ri­fied of Sarah Palin. Why else com­mis­sion a movie from his bud­dies at HBO about a woman who’s not even run­ning for of­fice?

She is still a se­ri­ous force. And no fool, she. Not to be ob­scure here, but you’re about to find out her true power.

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