If you haven’t seen Game Change yet, it’s a must see movie, and not because it’s about Sarah Palin, but because it’s about what she represents: The cynical, dangerous, and decaying state of the Republican Party. This isn’t exactly old news, in fact, it should be a cautionary tale, because while the players have changed, the Republican game has not.
The movie shows Palin’s absurd lack of preparedness in basic issues: She didn’t know what the Fed did and thought that as VP she would be arranging strategy with the Queen of England, unaware that the Prime Minister is the head of government in England.
And then there are the long stretches where Palin is in a stupor, almost catatonic. This behavior isn’t new; back in Alaska, they have the same stories to tell. A Party that cared about this country would have vetted her; they would have found out what any person using Google found out within a few hours of her announcement.
In the film, when the Couric interview goes poorly, Palin becomes paranoid that Katie Couric is out to get her and that the campaign strategists set her up to fail. She throws her phone at the wall after blaming McCain strategist Nicolle Wallace for her own failures. In a rather telling moment, Palin likens herself to Hillary and Wallace, a loyal Bush operative, says, “You are no Hillary.”
Richard Wolffe was on The Ed Show last night to discuss the HBO movie Game Change, which they joke should have called Game Over. Wolffe made a point that is vital for the American people to realize: The Republican establishment made the reckless choice to put Sarah Palin on the ticket, and did not deep six her even after they became aware that she was unstable and unprepared. But the most frightening aspect is that nothing has changed in the Republican Party since the Palin pick and yet, the same reckless behavior is still being ignored by the mainstream press.
Transcript from MSNBC (with modifications):
ED SCHULTZ: If you had any questions about Sarah Palin’s competency they ought to be answered by now. The HBO movie “game change” showed America it dodged a political bullet. McCain strategist Steve Schmidt said the movie got it right.
STEVE SCHMIDT (McCain strategist): It was very accurate. I think for all of us who were in the campaign it really rang true, gave you PTSD at times.
ED SCHULTZ: They found themselves dealing with a vice presidential candidate unstable, lacking knowledge, and completely unprepared for the national stage.
ED SCHULTZ: Even if you didn’t catch the movie, you know how the story ends. Schmidt says the end result of the 2008 campaign was the best outcome for the country.
STEVE SCHMIDT: When a result happens that puts someone who is not prepared to be president on the ticket, that is a bad result. I think the notion of Sarah Palin being president of the United States is something that frightens me, frankly, and I played a part in that. I played a part in that because we were fueled by ambition to win.
And now we come to the analysis of this debacle:
RICHARD WOLFFE: … It was also painful and frankly disgusting to watch the people who were responsible for this, and Steve Schmidt, he was one of the defenders of the President Bush and Dick Cheney, you cannot question his Republican credentials, but he was responsible and this movie goes in this, he was responsible for the reckless decision, in part, for this reckless decision to put Sarah Palin in this position and for Sarah Palin to think she comes off worse than the McCain aides who put her in this intolerable position shows how clueless she is.
…. It was so bad that Nicolle Wallace, again, a loyal bush operative, loyal Republican, said she couldn’t vote in this election because of Sarah Palin. That is what I mean about how shocking this movie is. The book and movie is called Game Change this is politics at the highest level, responsibility for life and death of the troops, about the jobs and welfare of the American people and they clearly chose someone who wasn’t ready for the limelight, wasn’t ready for the election, never mind for the responsibility of the job. Honestly, if they realized this, along the way they had a clear responsibility to say something, that at least didn’t appear in the movie, or from what we see in the book.
…looking at the primary contests we have seen playing out on the Republican field. Do you think they have taken it more seriously than that Vice Presidential pick? Yes, this was the Republican establishment; everyone says where are the leaders? The leaders at that time took those risks…
If you think we dodged a bullet when she and McCain lost, you’re fooling yourself. The same people behind her pick were behind Bush and Cheney, and these are the same people behind Mitt Romney and the same game that allows someone like Rick Santorum to actually run for the nomination.
You might think it’s just a clown show, but I believe we’ve been watching history being made and attention is not being paid to the important aspects of the narrative.
This is a reckless, desperate party that has refused to reexamine their own policies, just as they refused to reexamine their choice of Sarah Palin even though they knew she was mentally unstable and yet a 72 year old’s heartbeat away from the Presidency. It was so bad that Nicole Wallace, campaign advisor and loyal Bush operative, could not vote in 2008. She couldn’t bring herself to vote. She supported Dick Cheney and George W Bush, but she could not vote in 2008.
The Party hasn’t reexamined itself; you are not getting the old Republican Party this election cycle. In fact, they have proven this with even Mitt Romney refusing to condemn Rush Limbaugh’s hate speech against American women. Mitt Romney is too afraid of the crazy contingency (circa Palin 2008 “pallin’ around with terrorists”) to be a real leader and tell Rush to behave like a civil person, but Mitt wants to lead this country. Romney, like all of the leaders in Game Change, which is to say, the Republican establishment, is ultimately a cynical coward who will not put country ahead of power — not even when it really, really matters.
If the Party had any chance to do some soul searching, the 2010 election killed it. When Republicans had success once again through hate and division, no matter the cost of having freshman in the House who quite literally took the country to the brink of disaster over the debt ceiling, they were sunk. The Republican Party is so hooked on its toxicity that it can’t save itself. The GOP is an addict that doesn’t even want to quit, because the high is still so sweet they can taste it.
Think about what that means, and then ask yourself if you can trust the Republican Party to run your local school board, let alone represent you in the House or Senate or God forbid, in the White House. This is no joke. The Republican Party has never taken responsibility for Bush, let alone Palin, and now they are offering us the Tea Party nuts in the House and are letting Rick Santorum and Newt Gingrich actually run for the nomination of the highest office in the land.
The real question here is why isn’t the press laughing out loud at the Republican Party and where in the Hell were they in 2008? What you have been witnessing is the beginning of the demise of a Party, a Party so greedy for power and hooked on its toxic brand of getting out the vote that it cannot put country first on even the smallest detail.
The modern day Republican Party is reckless enough to have knowingly put an unstable, unprepared person one 72 year old’s heartbeat away from the highest office in the world. It wasn’t a fluke; it was part of an ongoing pattern of reckless behavior that began in earnest in 2001 when George W Bush and his administration lied to us and the press spoon fed the lies to us like the lap dogs they have become; the same lap dogs who still can’t bring themselves to call Mitt Romney a liar, even as he says the President is going to “change Medicare as we know it.”
We’re not out of the woods, yet. Not by a long shot.
Ms. Jones is the co-founder/ editor-in-chief of PoliticusUSA and a member of the White House press pool.
Sarah hosts Politicus News and co-hosts Politicus Radio. Her analysis has been featured on several national radio, television news programs and talk shows, and print outlets including Stateside with David Shuster, as well as The Washington Post, The Atlantic Wire, CNN, MSNBC, The Week, The Hollywood Reporter, and more.
Sarah is a member of the Society of Professional Journalists.