Are you ready for the 2012 election? Me neither. Instead, relive the excitement of two improbable Democratic victories with books about the 2008 and 1992 races.
"Game Change: Obama and the Clintons, McCain and Palin, and the Race of a Lifetime" by John Heilemann and Mark Halperin is a fast-paced romp through the 2008 Presidential election, and no one is off-limits. The first half of the book follows Democrats Hillary Clinton, Barack Obama, and John Edwards as they battle to the nomination. The second half of the book takes on the Republicans.
Lust, hate, betrayal, money, and of course politics, wind through the story. Readers see behind the scenes of national campaigns, and find out what happens when former allies become enemies and talk to reporters. Some of the stories were widely covered by the press, but others may come as a surprise.
We learned that Edwards shopped his endorsement around after realizing he was out of the race. McCain is portrayed as so disengaged that readers will wonder why he bothered to run in the first place. Then there were politicians who promised loyalty to Clinton, but were secretly working behind the scenes to help Obama. The book claims Palin was found through an internet search, and Obama is described as egotistical and short tempered.
The dirt flies about the candidates, but it is the spouses who look really bad. Elizabeth Edwards is portrayed as a mad shrew, who belittles John and launches verbal attacks on staffers. Bill Clinton is described as uncontrollable and hell-bent on sabotaging Hillary's chances. The McCains are shown in a loveless marriage amid allegations of Cindy McCain's infidelity. You can't make this stuff up.
Some exchanges are hard to believe, and conversations are clearly reconstructed. At one point, the authors write about a private discussion between Michelle Obama and Hillary Clinton. The phone call occurred after Barack Obama won the nomination and the women spoke about raising children in Washington DC. Both women fiercely protect their children; it's hard to imagine that either would give that information to the authors. That means a third source that is never identified. This happens throughout the book and readers are left to ponder who spilled the beans.
According to promotional information, the authors used 200 sources to write the book. That access to information gives readers a front row seat to the historic election. The book is a fun ride for anyone who loves dirt and politics.
Back in 1992 a largely unknown Governor from Arkansas managed to beat the odds and become President of the United States. It was the time of "Read my lips," and "it's the economy stupid," and the book "Alls Fair: Love, War and Running for President" by political consultants and married couple James Carville and Mary Matalin is a fun, easy read that provides insight into the changing nature of politics.
The story is told in alternating chapters written by Carville and Matalin. It's a candid account of that race, with terrific detail about the day-to-day stress of running a successful campaign. Sometimes pure propaganda, the book is still worth reading twenty-years later.