Sunday, January 10, 2010

Boy, campaign gossip sure can be fun

This new book by John Heileman and Mark Halperin, Game Change, seems to be packed full of fun behind-the-scenes gossip. Who knows if the rest of the book is worth reading, but the tidbits that are being released sure are fun and, remarkably, they're bipartisan fun. It's about time that we move beyond what Sarah Palin did or didn't do in the campaign and remember how much fun the Democrats were for a while.

Mark Ambinder has some of the juicy tidbits such as Hillary's war room was set up to keep Bill out of trouble because of an affair with an unnamed woman that he was having. Come on gossip-mongers, help us out here.

And then Bill, that ultra-sensitive first black president, reportedly told Teddy Kennedy, "A few years ago, this guy would have been getting us coffee." What a class act Bill is. But I guess that couldn't have been a racist comment because we know that only Republicans are racist.

Ambinder adds in that the Clinton campaign was deliberately talking about cocaine in that infamous Hardball appearance that some saw as a racist slime attack by innuendo. It turns out that it was completely deliberate.

And in another story about the gossip in the book, Halperin and Heileman report that there was real hostility between the Obama and Biden camps during the campaign with Obama reportedly asking, “How many times is Biden gonna say something stupid?” Come on, Barack. Few can count that high. But Biden wasn't taking the criticism lying down. After being criticized by his comment about how Obama was going to be tested, Biden joked, “I guess it’s a good thing I didn’t say anything about bitter people who cling to their guns and religion,”

Here's an excerpt from Game Change about "Saint Elizabeth and the Ego Monster." That would be Elizabeth and John Edwards in case you didn't recognize the reference. Here's a surprise: John Edwards is a shallow, narcissistic, despicable empty-suit. Some of us knew that right away when he first appeared on the public scene.

And then there's Harry Reid's insensitive comment about how he liked Obama because he was a light-skinned Negro who didn't speak with a Negro dialect. Maybe Reid and Biden got together and talked about how clean Obama was. It's a good thing that Reid isn't a Republican because then we'd know he was a racist. Instead he's just inept and thoughtless.

Obama has forgiven Reid for his seemingly racist gaucherie. But Jennifer Rubin wonders why Obama gets to be the one to give racist dispensation.
Reid is engaging in what’s textbook-definition of racism: evaluating someone on the basis of skin color. It isn’t up to Obama to wipe the slate clean. He is, after all, only the president, not the supreme court of racial justice. He might be the nation’s most prominent African American but he is not the spokesperson of an entire race, nor the nation’s designated spokesperson on racial matters.
Ben Smith gives his comment on the book, noting that there is, unsurprisingly, one person who comes out without looking worse than his or her public image.
Having dug into the book -- which is quite good -- a bit, one disparity was hard to miss. The Edwardses, Clintons, Giulianis and others are depicted as vastly different from their public images. John and Elizabeth are a vain empty suit and Lady Macbeth; Hillary is as calculating, hard-edged, maladroit, and ideological as her critics have always maintained.

The one character who appears in the book as he'd like you to see him: Obama. Which, one way or another, explains why he won: He was either untroubled by the deep contradictions that dogged his rivals; or he was better at concealing them. (He is also the only candidate whose staffers remain with him, deeply invested in his image and unwilling to dish, which helps.)
He doesn't mention McCain. I suspect that we know enough about McCain by this point that there would have to be some really surprising anecdote to adjust how we think of him whether you like or can't stand him.

And while we're supposed to be all forgiving of Harry Reid for saying something so racially insensitive, Mark Hemingway reminds us of Harry Reid's own pride in calling them like he sees them.
However, today's apology from Reid regarding his racist remarks does bring to mind this quote from the book:
"I speak bluntly. Sometimes I can be impulsive. I believe something to be right and do it. And then I don’t worry about it. This has not always served me well, but it is who I am. I can be no else."
Yup, that Harry Reid. He's just like Martin Luther. There he stands. He can do no other than speak of that nice light-skinned Barack Obama who doesn't do Negro dialect.