Monday, March 12, 2012

Game Change Portrayal of Palin Foreshadows Her Later Behavior

Game Change, the HBO film about 2008 presidential election campaign, won't change many minds about the little known Alaskan governor picked by John McCain to be his running mate.

Many people made up their minds a long time ago that Sarah Palin was woefully unprepared to become president. And in the ensuing three and a half years, a lot more have soured on her.

There certainly were some moments in the film when Palin was portrayed sympathetically -- missing her baby, talking to her deployed son as he left on a mission, dealing with a pregnant teen daughter.

But the context of what Palin has done in the time since the campaign supports the overall portrait of her that emerges in the film -- someone with great political skills but who is unwilling to do the hard work necessary to be the leader of a government, someone who seems to connect with average voters but who is ultimately obsessed with herself. The film is sort of a prequel to Palin's later actions.

Seeing Palin portrayed on the screen refusing to prep for her media interviews or debate brought to mind her decision to step down as governor of Alaska after the campaign was over.

Listening to her obsess about her poll numbers in Alaska during the midst of the national campaign and trying to hog the limelight by delivering her own concession speech on election night was a reminder of her ham-handed response to the shooting of Arizona Rep. Gabrielle Giffords. Palin made herself out as the victim, calling it a "blood libel" that people suggested Palin's use of a gun site to designate Giffords' district as a high priority for Republicans contributed to a climate of violent political rhetoric.

In short, Palin's actions after the campaign confirmed many of her flaws showcased in the film. Sure, McCain aide Steve Schmidt and others take a lot of the blame for the decision to pick Palin and the way she was vetted for the job, but the way Palin reacted after joining the ticket is all her own doing.

It could have been a brilliant pick, but at the end of the day Palin could not make it work.

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