Tuesday, February 09, 2016

Double Down: Game Change 2012 (by by John Heilemann and Mark Halperin)

I really enjoyed listening to the audiobook of Game Change, Heilemann and Halperin's book about the 2008 election, so I was excited to get this on audiobook too. I don't commute by car regularly anymore (most of the time I work from home), and this was a long book, so it took me a while to get through all sixteen CDs of material.

I am a very specific kind of political news junkie -- as long as things are going well for my party and my candidate, I am riveted.  (Right now I'm glued to the Republican primary race.) I don't think I'd be able to read a book like Double Down if the outcome of the election had been President Romney. But knowing that this one has a happy ending (at least for me) it was entertaining to read all the behind-the-scenes machinations of the campaigns.

The most interesting part to me was, again, the Republican primary fight. Many of the same names cropping up (Chris Christie, Rick Santorum, Mike Huckabee) and many oh-I-forgot-about-that (Michelle Bachmann, Rick Perry, Newt Gingrich).  Probably the most interesting one was Donald Trump, who is shown debating a run and then deciding to stick with The Apprentice. But in Trump and Christie both opting not to run, and Christie in particular exhibiting a lot of political acumen in the process, the seeds of 2016 are sown.

I have no idea how Heilemann and Halperin did it, by the way, since they seem to have knowledge of every campaign's strategy, internal conversations, memos, even thoughts that certain candidates and staffers are having. You can't ask for a closer behind-the-scenes look at the campaign process. Being in the thick of it right now makes it an excellent time to read Double Down. 

My only criticism is that the writing gets a little "I swallowed a thesaurus" at times. I would have highlighted some examples or written some down but I was always listening while driving! I remember George Romney being referred to as "Romney pere" at one point, and "tip of the hat" in one sentence becoming "doff the chapeau" in the next. This is definitely a writing pattern of theirs. But the book is terrific and the narrator (Robert Fass) does an amazing job.

I also learned like 10 words I am apparently pronouncing wrong. Sadly, I couldn't write those down either, so I'll continue butchering them in perpetuity.

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