Tuesday, January 31, 2012

Notes on Politics: 'Game Change' Clip Blames McCain's Loss on Palin, First Ladydom's No Picnic

Seriously HBO?

You folks are planning on releasing a movie that blames Sarah Palin, after shredding her and making her look unstable, for John McCain’s loss to Barack Obama in 2008? That’s how it looks based on the latest trailer for your film Game Change.

I was certainly no fan of the book Game Change, which chronicles the 2008 presidential campaign, even though I’m something of a political junkie. My intense distaste for how the book depicted -- villainized, really -- nearly every woman in the book (Sarah Palin, Elizabeth Edwards, Cindy McCain, Hillary Clinton, Judith Giuliani, all but Michelle Obama), has been the focus of blog posts and columns since the book's release in 2010.

When the first, short glimpse of HBO’s take on the book was released in December, I was very wary. And now that I’ve seen a longer trailer – set to The Guess Who’s “American Woman” -- I’m ticked. It appears, if you go by the trailer, that the film will scapegoat Palin and make her look like a narcissistic nut job who torpedoed McCain. In other words, it’ll be a continuation of the kind of garbage that the book heaped upon its female subjects.

Take Palin’s politics and put them aside for a moment and try to imagine for a moment that you’re an ambitious, self-made governor of Alaska and you get the phone call asking you to be a presidential candidate’s running mate. You’re going to say yes. This is a once in a lifetime opportunity. Palin was fresh, hadn’t been on the national scene, she’d recently had a baby and was the first Republican woman nominated for the post, so she sparked intense intrigue.

Then she was promptly and savagely eviscerated. Everyone from pundits and columnists to people on the street said she had no business campaigning when she had a baby and that she should be home with her kids. Some online writers peddled in sinister rumors suggesting that she was never pregnant and that she faked the pregnancy to cover for her teenage daughter's pregnancy, a daughter who, as it turned out, had accidentally gotten pregnant. And Palin was lampooned for agreeing to run while her unwed teenage daughter was pregnant. Like the chance to be the first female VP would come a-knocking again.

There was a vicious gender thing going on with Palin where people just seemed to seethe with a burning hate for her during her two months+ (felt like longer) as the number two on the Republican ticket, hate based more on her as a person than her beliefs. Attacking her on policies, on the issues, on ethics, all totally fair. Attacking her as a mother, as a wife, belittling her as a sex object and that was all out of line.

Yet this film – with scenes of Palin lying on the floor of her hotel room in a bathrobe with debate prep note cards lying all around her, mumbling about missing her baby and sleeping with her baby in front of people, smiling at her reflection in the mirror after donning a series of different outfits -- promises to skewer her all over again, mostly because of her gender.

Here are things that came out of the mouths of top McCain aides in this short clip about Palin:
  • I’m not sure how much she knows about foreign policy.”
  • “Oh my God, what have we done?”
  • “She’s on the verge of a complete nervous breakdown.”
  • “I can’t control her anymore.”
Why not just have someone suggest she be placed in a fainting chair and say she has the vapors? Come on people. Where’s the footage of McCain’s crazy, weird smiling that freaked people out? How about displays of his infamously profane streaks of anger and his sounding like the cranky old guy yelling at the kids his front lawn? Where’s the depiction of his moronic idea to “suspend” his campaign in light of the 2008 economic crisis in order to go to D.C. and save the day like a senatorial Superman? McCain owns the lion’s share of his loss as he faced Obama’s inspiring oration and ground-breaking candidacy. Yet the book and, it seems, the movie, wants to lay the blame on Palin’s lap or, at the very least, make her look like some daffy dame.

The last line of the clip features Palin whispering into a man's ear, “Ya have to win this thing. I so don’t want to go back to Alaska.” Cue the dramatic music. Yeah, blame the chick. It’s all her fault, just like all the women caricatured in Game Change were at fault too. This is just, what’s a good phrase here . . . ah, I know, pious baloney.

One of Politics' Crappiest Unpaid Gigs: Being the First Lady
Speaking of women in the media, my latest Pop Culture and Politics column is based on another political book, The Obamas by Jodi Kantor and how, after reading Kantor’s account of the Obamas’ experience in the national spotlight, I’ve come to the conclusion that being a first lady really sucks:

“If you are a woman who a) has ambition b) is educated c) has a profession that you like d) want to actively be engaged in public policy issues (and have the experience/expertise to do so) e) want to be free from non-stop harassment about everything from your clothing and parenting, to your vacations and relationship with your spouse, then living in the Oval Office as the first spouse would be a crappy job for you.

No way would I want to be standing in Michelle Obama's shoes, even if they happen to be pricey designer pumps and she has a household staff that cooks, cleans and carts her kids around. (I could use a staff, but I'm not willing to pay the price that she's had to pay for it.")

Image credit: Amazon.

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