HBO’s ‘Game Change': McCain’s National Shame of Palin

Film revisits Palin’s lack of fitness for office and McCain staff’s negligence

On March 10, HBO will premiere "Game Change," which dramatizes the 2008 presidential campaign of Republican nominee John McCain and his previously little-known running mate, Sarah Palin. The stellar film cast includes Ed Harris as McCain, Julianne Moore as Palin, and Woody Harrelson as McCain’s chief campaign strategist, Steve Schmidt.

The movie will revisit the national disgrace of Palin’s glaring unfitness for office and the irresponsible and negligent failure of McCain and his staff to properly vet her. Kudos to HBO — which has a long track record of producing fact-based, Emmy-winning dramas — for reminding us this election year to beware of candidates who are inept and woefully unprepared to run for national office.

McCain's own strategist, Schmidt, and chief '08 Palin aide Nicolle Wallace have vouched for the accuracy of "Game Change," based on the 2010 book of the same name by journalists John Heilemann and Mark Halperin. Also, Chris Edwards, one of Palin's ‘08 campaign staffers, served as a technical advisor to the HBO filmmakers.

But ardent Palin supporters (why in the world are there any?) will choose once again to ignore obvious truths about Palin, who has already dismissed this film with her usual paranoid response to media bashing. "Here they go again," she says. But may they never stop “going again” if it exposes Palin’s continued ineptness for public office or even to be a national spokesperson for the sake of satisfying her ego. Parroting conservative dogma, never offering a single original thought, and simply tearing down the opposition for its own sake does not make a credible candidate for any office — or for any job, including parking cars or cleaning kennels.

John McCain’s “Country First” campaign motto was a shameful, utter lie. McCain knew he could never win the presidency with a boring old suit like Romney or Huckabee. He wanted American voters to think he was making a bold, new-generational move to thwart the Obama Express by picking the much younger, female, mostly unknown Palin. The fact he hardly vetted her clearly shows how shallow and manipulative his decision was, and how desperate his staff was to find an atypical running mate and shake things up. Schmidt has admitted, “My judgment was influenced by ambition to win the race.”

If McCain had known that silly Sarah was so intellectually challenged she would inanely suggest that the proximity of Alaska to the Russian border gave her foreign policy expertise, or that the Queen of England was the head of the British government, would he still have picked her if she guaranteed him a win? Absolutely! You bet he would have, because all John McCain wanted was to become president at absolutely any cost, including the unacceptable cost to our nation's well-being.

Given McCain’s age of 72 (in 2008) and his history of heart trouble, Palin as president was a very possible disaster for our country and the world. Even if McCain cringed at thoughts of her possible succession (as surely he must have now that we know the real story), his megalomania for power at any cost ruled the day. "Country First" my butt! That was blatant “Country Last—JOHN FIRST!”

The book and film also reveal that senior campaign aides were alarmed by Palin's behind-the-scenes emotional outbursts, and were horrified to discover she was at times "catatonic" and possibly mentally unstable. Schmidt has said of the film, “That is the story of what happened; it tells the truth of the campaign." The consensus among McCain ’08 aides is that picking Palin was a terrible mistake. Schmidt agrees: “The result was the VP nomination of someone who was fundamentally not qualified. I have great regret over that." So does America, Steve.

Proving once again his own ineptness of judgment and refusal to see the truth, cowardly McCain recently declared: “It will be a cold day in Gila Bend, Arizona, before I watch that movie.” Yes, John, continue your shame of denial for not vetting Palin…as a supposed patriot. For the rest of America, and Arizona…don’t miss this important HBO film!

(Some of this text is excerpted from my memoir "Kiss Me Quick Before I Shoot." Quotes and film facts are from the Los Angeles Times story on “Game Change” written by James Rainey on Feb. 18. Photo by Philip Caruso, HBO)