I loved Game Change.
Granted, I follow politics the way normal people follow sports. I burned with envy when my wife would come home from her job in Georgetown and report that she saw some junior senator from a jerkwater state like New York at a restaurant. It killed me when my job status prevented me from volunteering for my presidential candidate of choice. I’ve burned hours upon untold hours debating the minutiae of American policy with fellow obsessives on internet message boards. I read all those Woodward books. This is my thing.
Game Change gave me not just a peek, but an extended tour behind the curtain of the 2008 McCain presidential campaign. Now, if you take the time to read an obscure blog like mine, you’ve probably already read about the HBO film’s remarkable performances, fair portrayal, and overall quality. I agree, and I’ll be shocked if Ed Harris and Julianne Moore don’t win at least Emmy nominations. But my favorite thing about the film was the sense it gave us of being caught up in tricky decisions. It’s four days ‘til you have to name a vice presidential nominee and you’re trailing an opponent who seems unassailable: what do you do? Your hastily vetted choice turns out to be wildly underprepared and may be melting down: what do you do? You’ve allowed a measure of populism and fear to enter your campaign, and it’s turning ugly and spinning out of control: what do you do?
This stuff, the gap between ideals and actions, the strategizing and counterstrategizing, are what makes so politics so fascinating. Game Change brings the fascination home, and I loved every minute of it. If you have HBO, see it this month. If not, queue it up. You’ll be glad you did.