Friday, August 06, 2010

Game Change - Chapters 15-17

More of my notes from the book "Game Change." It's the story of the 2008 election, this post covers part 2 of the book - the Republican frontrunners. See previous posts for the Democratic story

As mentioned before, I'll publish some of my notes and comments. Some may not be in full sentence/paragraph form. Where appropriate, I'll put quotes from the book. I would really appreciate your comments as I'm still trying to make up my mind if I like the book.

I thought it was interesting that the authors took 14 chapters to discuss the Democratic primaries and only 3 to discuss the Republican primaries. Could it be bias on the authors' part? Or just that the Democratic primary was more interesting? In this case, I think it's the latter.

Chapter 15 - McCain "really just didn't give a ####. The details made his head hurt." (pg 274) "The McCain's were a military family and if John wanted to serve, Cindy wasn't going to stand in his way. Four uses defined her ethic: 'I support my husband.'" (pg 276)

John's relationship with his wife surprised, sometimes it was very bad: "McCain let out the stream of sharp epithets, both middle fingers raised and extended, barking in his wife's face." Why all the profanity? I noted this before (see here) with the Democrats. I know if I spoke to my wife the way McCain did, she would NOT appreciate it. Sometimes, he was very protective and loving with his wife.

Rumors of Cindy's McCain's affair. Sh denied it and no proof was offered. Rumors of an illegitimate child that McCain later adopted. Is this what we subject our politicians to? Unfounded rumors?

McCain was for the Iraq surge in 2006, when the surge wasn't cool. I guess I forgot how big a part the Iraq war played in the election. Also, there was a lot of discussion of McCain's war hero status. Did it really carry that much weight? The authors thought so and at least one liberal blogger I follow agreed.

McCain's speeches were frequently disjointed due to last minute changes and they were poorly attended (during primaries). Not only was McCain not excited, the crowds and his campaign workers weren't either.

The authors mentioned the Immigration Bill of 2007. With this subject being hot (again or still?) I should do some research on it.

Chapter 16 - Rudy Giuliani was pro-choice, pro-gay rights, 3x married, had a public affair with wife#3 while still married to wife#2 (see here for my comments on that subject). He was about as liberal as he could be. Why was he running as a Republican?

Charlie Crist (Florida) was view as being in Rudy's pocket and John's pocket depending on the day of the week. Mitt Romney flip-flopped on abortion, gun control and gays.

"That two candidates as flawed as Giuliani and Romney were the best poised to step in and capitalize on McCain's implosion was start testament to the weakness of the rest of the Republican field" (pg 295) - Could any Republican win? Could any Democrat lose?

"McCain would listen to everyone, take their advice, then bounce that advice off the next person in the loop." (Pg 296) My recollection was that happened once during the debates on taxes. His lack of devotion to any cause cost him a lot of support. Iraq may have been the sole exception - he was devoted to winning in Iraq.

Chapter 17 - Vicki Iseman affair alleged with McCain. See earlier comments about unfounded allegations against politicians.

Even after winning the nomination, crowds were weak at McCain events.

"McCain had failed to drive a message." (pg 318) - This sentence speaks a lot.


David said...

Well I have to say one thing in defense of everyone except Obama. This book was written from information on background, and I know firsthand how sketchy that can get.

Because Obama won, a good percentage of the would-be sources on him were trying to get jobs in the administration. Leaking the inside story is obviously not the best way to do it. With everyone that lost, the reverse is true. Everyone will want to get their story out so they don't get blamed for things that lead to the loss. Some is very accurate, aimed at setting the record straight. Other times it gets downright malicious.

On McCain's relationship with his wife, I really can't comment. Campaigns are a pressure cooker, and I highly doubt any relationship stays normal. And at the same time, I don't know what the McCain's definition of "normal relationship" is. If they're happy, who am I to judge?

As for the McCain campaign, it was obviously a train wreck even then. He managed to pull it back together in the primary, so I Democratic win wasn't something to take for granted. But he never did get it together in the general. He lost a lot of respect (including mine) for flopping on the issues. I had a tremendous amount of respect for the way he came out against torture based on his own experiences before the election went into full swing. And then candidate McCain suddenly started supporting "enhanced interrogation". That really told me all I needed to know about him.

Randy said...

David, Interesting comment on the background information. So, do you trust the book? Do you feel it accurately reflects the campaign?

As for McCain's relationship with his wife, I get the impression it is always hot & cold, not just during the election. I won't criticize the relationship, but I know I couldn't live like that - my wife would kill me!!

I recall McCain flip-flopping. Bottom line seems he really didn't want to run and didn't have a good game plan. Seemed to be developing it on the fly. I think he would have made a good Commander in Chief, but a lousy president.

David said...

I wouldn't say that it isn't "accurate", just that some parts are probably more accurate than others. With the candidates other than Obama, the authors were likely able to get information about much deeper levels of the campaign.

It's why I like reading about the Nixon administration: not really because of Watergate, but it's the only modern administration that completely cracked. Rather than ending as a united front, they all turned on each other and gave a very stark look inside a presidency.

"The Edge" said...

Randy - I'm not sure if it the authors of the book, or you, but I would like to point out what I would call an error in the Rudy Guiliani positions. Unless he was flat lying on TV, I can recall an occasion where they asked him about his stance on abortion. He came off to me as direct, and he said basically, that personally, he was against it, but that he would uphold the law as it was written because he didn't have any say n making the law, his position in New York at the time was to enforce the laws. Personally, I agree with him. If I'm in that position, I cannot do anything but uphold the law as it is written, even if I disagree personally with its reasoning, interpretation, or anything else. Yes, personally, I am against the entire idea of abortion as my personal beliefs teach me this is killing. But until I can fight to get that law changed, it's pretty hard for me to complain about it if it was duly enacted. Now, I understand moral conscience and all, but in this case, he gave a direct answer to the interviewer on his position, and unless we have reason not to, we should take him at his word.

Everybody criticized Romney for changing his stance on certain issues. But if those old positions were held several years ago, and he is now convicted (albeit morally, in his case) that his current positions are the right ones, and he is not changing those now, I'm not sure I understand the charges of "flipping".

I would contrast John Kerry, who by his own admission was "for it before he was against it". Huh? What does that mean? What was he for that he is now against. Kerry never took the time to explain that fully (although I think everyone knew he meant the war) and why he switched positions. But in Kerry's case, his actions didn't line up with his "convictions", which is why the accusation of "flipping" stuck - because you never knew when he was lying or telling the truth. At least in Romney's case he has been forthright about what his former positions were and why he changed them....

Again, just my 2 cents....

Randy said...

Rudy's morals left a lot to be desired. Having an affair with wife-to-be#3 while still married to wife#2 and having the NYC police provide protection for all 3 of them is about as low as you can go. I'm not sure if he flip-flopped on abortion, but if so it was clearly as a vote getter. His stance on gays also was not what was expected from a right-wing politician.

Flip-flopping isn't all bad, I've discussed that before. I never pursued Romney's change to know if it was legitimate.

Kerry was against the war before he was for it, before he was against it. Complicated situation. He opposed the war, but voted in support of the country to go to Iraq. I've exchanged some emails with some liberals and I don't see a problem with that flip-flop either. He may not have supported to war, but he supported the country and our troops (at least on this). I can find a lot of reasons to disagree with Kerry, this isn't one of them.

Thanks for sticking with these posts, they've been long..