I watched the US film Game Change last week. It’s based on a narration of the of the 2008 Presidential election by John Heilmann and Mark Halperin.
The book covers the whole caboodle including primaries through to Obama’s inauguration. This film focussed only on saga surrounding Sarah Palin’s nomination as VP running mate for John McCain.
I have to say, I was blown away by the film. It was almost 3 hours long, but was absolutely gripping throughout. It made really good use of actual footage from the election that added a very real sense of drama to the production.
Juliane Moore played Sarah Palin and was uncanny, even beating Tina Fey; but respect has to go to her for playing it straight and not hamming it up. Like the book implies, the story of the 2008 election is gripping enough without needing to take cheap shots.
Personally, I left the film feeling quite sympathetic towards Palin. I’m sure this wasn’t the intention of the book authors who have left no doubt about their own views or the film makers, who have clearly worked very hard to tell a balanced story.
The reason I felt that way was twofold:
– She didn’t ask for this! Unlike many US politicians (we see this happening now in Republican circles) who fall over themselves to ingratiate themselves with the nominee and get their name on the ballot. Palin did not, the call came as a complete surprise. She was called out of the blue by a bunch of arrogant advisers on the McCain who had plopped some figures into a formula (woman + republican + pro life + maverick) and come out with Palin. Her sense of duty in accepting is clear, and is obviously the reason she did it.
Of course that doesn’t let her off the hook; she could have ‘fessed up and admitted to herself and the campaign that she wasn’t up to it, that her family were not prepared etc. But she didn’t, and let’s be honest, how many of us would?!
– I had forgotten how vicious, vitriolic and personal the attacks on her were! It was not just the nature of the attacks that were cruel, but their rapidity! Even before she had been formally announced, she was being accused (based on nothing) of lying about being the mother of her last child and all sorts of other deeply unpleasant things! I might be naive, but that just seemed grossly unfair and unpleasant to me. I remember thinking it at the time, and this film brought it back to me.
None of this is to say she was a good pick. She wasn’t. She wasn’t ready, she had negligible experience and was chosen for all the wrong reasons! And the way she has behaved since has been bizarre.
But I think the oddest thing I was left thinking was “what is she’d been given another 4 years?!” Given more time and exposure, could she have gained more experience and insight to combine with clearly formidable communications skills and saved the Republicans from the dismal primary they’ve just experienced?!