Double Down: Game Change 2012 by Mark Halperin and John Heilemann (3 out of 5)
If you haven’t read Game Change by these men, you should. That book is the story of the behind the scenes going down before, during, and after the 2008 election. That book is a roller coaster of ego, intellect, politicking (political trafficking), and the United States hanging in the precarious balance, dependent on whomever is finally elected. This book, about the 2012 election, is a more sated matter. The first was a roller coaster ride, this is more like a leisurely hayride in the pasture.
Obama and Romney ended up our two candidates once the dust from the primaries cleared. Obama, you’re familiar with from the first book. Four years later finds him a less boastful man, whose country is not faring well at all as he heads into re-election mode. Romney isn’t taken seriously at all by the Republican party, and has to try to prove to all the naysayers that he can do this thing. And it doesn’t just take loads of money, which he has at his disposal, to do it, but rather cunning, intellect, and knowing the right thing to do at the right time. These two, to be completely honest, reminded me of bumbling Keystone cops while I was reading the book. Personal thoughts don’t matter in a book review, especially on politics. My friend Dan had a customer challenge him recently on his views on something on Fox News. He wisely told her that he never talks politics with customers. I am taking that line in the review, as well. I hope you don’t mind, Dan.
The other personalities who DIDN’T get the nomination, but were mentioned and considered in the three ring circus surrounding the nominations- Chris Christie, Jeb Bush, Donald Trump, Mike Huckabee, Herman Cain, Newt Gingrich, Michelle Bachmann, Tim Pawlenty, Rick Perry, Jon Huntsman, and my favorite weirdo, Rick Santorum, are where the true passion of the book is. I was bored reading about Obama and Romney, but the side car cast? That’s where this story is at. The book, for me at least, lagged while reading about our eventual two nominees and their muted, attempting to be brimstone, personalities. Even the Denver debate debacle, where many Democrats despaired as Romney’s popularity surged in light of his trouncing of Obama, isn’t sufficiently covered as I think it should have been. The bodies of flash in the pan that are surrounding both Obama and Romney, including many names that are familiar to Chicagoans (Bill Daley, Rahm Emanuel, David Axelrod, Valerie Jarrett), are another area where things get interesting. The power struggle going on there, could have easily sunk Obama’s boat.
This book garnered more of an appreciation toward Joe Biden and Michelle Obama, and yes, Ann Romney as well. When you read what they did to try to hold the two candidates together through the dark abyss known as the political process, gives you newfound appreciation for them. At least it did, in my case. There’s little doubts after reading this that a major, MAJOR, reason Obama was able to come back and win this election was due to the political zenith known as Bill Clinton. Another reason was the secret weapon known as Michelle Obama. Either way, it can be viewed by many after reading the book that many different factors were in play in the eventual outcome of this election.
Overall, I did enjoy this book, but it wasn’t breakneck pace to finish reading it, as the first one. It lagged a lot in parts. There weren’t a lot of “aha” moments in this book, and there weren’t a lot of “eureka” moments either. It was simply a good book about the behind-the-scenes tussle surrounding the last major election for our POTUS. I would and will recommend it, but it’s not in my all-time favorite political book top 10. I think it was just the cast of characters that didn’t call out to me as they did the last election. There wasn’t a lot of excitement here.