While Arizona Sen. John McCain and former Alaska Gov. Sarah Palin are not pleased, HBO’s release of the “Game Change” over the weekend was a well-constructed story of what happened during the historic 2008 presidential election.
With McCain, being the old Maverick, and Barack Obama bursting onto the scene, if the Republicans wanted to remain in office following the George Bush administration, they knew they needed a game-changing decision.
The movie is based on the book “Game Change” by Mark Halperin and John Heilemann. Conducting nearly 300 interviews from sources involved in the McCain camp, “Game Change” lays out how the GOP ticket included Palin as McCain’s running mate.
The movie starts with campaign manager Steve Schmidt (Woody Harrelson) being asked in a 60 Minutes interview if he had it to do over again, would he have put Palin on the ticket. With a short pause, the movie begins in 2007 when McCain was on his way to winning the GOP nomination, and Obama’s charisma and well-said speeches not only made him an instant sensation at the national level, but also worldwide.
Schmidt knew they had to counteract Obama’s widespread popularity, and they had to do something quick.
McCain, played by Ed Harris, often referred to himself as the Maverick, and started out wanting to run with his long-time friend and colleague Joe Lieberman. However, reality in politics isn’t always what you want it to be, and tough decisions have to be made.
Looking at the polls, at Obama’s growing popularity with women and Independents, the decision was quickly made that they needed to find a female to run for Vice President of the United States.
After a search, an aide quickly finds a video of Palin talking about energy and oil. With her straightforward approach, trend-setting glasses and unforgettable accent, he was immediately impressed.
Palin, played by Julianne Moore, was quickly brought in for an interview, a short background check was conducted, and before the McCain camp and the world knew it, this unknown was thrown into the national political platform.
The movie takes you back to that night where McCain introduced Palin as his running mate, he gave her a glowing introduction, then said her name. We can remember that moment, thinking Sarah Palin? Who is Sarah Palin?
The media did a more thorough job of looking into this governor’s past and quickly pounces on accusations on the bridge to nowhere, the accusations that her youngest child isn’t really hers, that her oldest daughter is pregnant, along with many other accusations.
While the McCain camp works out the initial shock and through the accusations, Palin’s job becomes knocking the acceptance speech out of the park at the GOP convention, which she did, even getting Schmidt to say, “We can win this.” Soon after, polls showed McCain gaining on Obama, and making a dent in his popularity.
However, the McCain advisors are soon thrust into Palin’s mood swings, struggles to understand world news, and her growing ego as her popularity increases.
One advisor tells Scmidt that the bigger concern is unleashing Palin to one-on-one interviews with the media. A standout quote in the movie was an aide saying to the campaign manager, “Not sure how much she understands about foreign policy. She doesn’t understand why North Korea and South Korea are separate countries.”
While the real Gov. Palin and McCain question the accuracy of the film, Schmidt has said for the most part the movie accurately portrays the campaign.
When it came to playing Palin, Julianne Moore had the mannerisms down cold. She played the part well.