Double Down

Double Down

Game Change 2012

Book - 2013
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Michiko Kakutani,  The New York Times :
"Those hungry for political news will read  Double Down  for the scooplets and insidery glimpses it serves up about the two campaigns, and the clues it offers about the positioning already going on among Republicans and Democrats for 2016 ... The book testifies to its authors' energetic legwork and insider access... creating a novelistic narrative that provides a you-are-there immediacy... They succeed in taking readers interested in the backstabbing and backstage maneuvering of the 2012 campaign behind the curtains, providing a tactile... sense of what it looked like from the inside."

In their runaway bestseller Game Change , Mark Halperin and John Heilemann captured the full drama of Barack Obama's improbable, dazzling victory over the Clintons, John McCain, and Sarah Palin. With the same masterly reporting, unparalleled access, and narrative skill, Double Down picks up the story in the Oval Office, where the president is beset by crises both inherited and unforeseen--facing defiance from his political foes, disenchantment from the voters, disdain from the nation's powerful money machers, and dysfunction within the West Wing. As 2012 looms, leaders of the Republican Party, salivating over Obama's political fragility, see a chance to wrest back control of the White House--and the country. So how did the Republicans screw it up? How did Obama survive the onslaught of super PACs and defy the predictions of a one-term presidency? Double Down follows the gaudy carnival of GOP contenders--ambitious and flawed, famous and infamous, charismatic and cartoonish--as Mitt Romney, the straitlaced, can-do, gaffe-prone multimillionaire from Massachusetts, scraped and scratched his way to the nomination.

Double Down exposes blunders, scuffles, and machinations far beyond the klieg lights of the campaign trail: Obama storming out of a White House meeting with his high command after accusing them of betrayal. Romney's mind-set as he made his controversial "47 percent" comments. The real reasons New Jersey governor Chris Christie was never going to be Mitt's running mate. The intervention held by the president's staff to rescue their boss from political self-destruction. The way the tense détente between Obama and Bill Clinton morphed into political gold. And the answer to one of the campaign's great mysteries--how did Clint Eastwood end up performing Dada dinner theater at the Republican convention?

In Double Down , Mark Halperin and John Heilemann take the reader into back rooms and closed-door meetings, laying bare the secret history of the 2012 campaign for a panoramic account of an election that was as hard fought as it was lastingly consequential.
Publisher: New York :, Penguin Press,, 2013.
ISBN: 9781594204401
Characteristics: 499 pages : illustrations (some color) ; 25 cm
Additional Contributors: Heilemann, John 1966-

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d
dnk
Feb 04, 2018

If you think you're going to read a book like this and come away with a better understanding of any candidate's policy on anything, you're mistaken. This is all political calculation with a big dose of gossip and some armchair psychoanalysis. Once you accept that, you can enjoy the ride.

This book lacks the fun factor of Game Change in part because the 2012 campaign wasn't nearly as much of a circus as the 2008 one. The Republican field was filled with unstable lunatics (calling the candidacy for Romney early on was easy) but, obviously, the Democrat's nominee was known from the get-go. And while the Obamans may have been as dysfunctional as any political operation, that's just not the same thing as John Edwards trying to get past his own mistakes and Hillary Clinton trying to overcome her reputation (and establishment sexism). On the GOP side, while Bachmann,Gingrich, Cain and Perry provided plenty of amusing and cringe-worthy episodes, they were never nearly as important as the star of 2008's GOP debacle, Sarah Palin. Oddly, there was almost nothing about Ron Paul, arguably the wackiest of all of the candidates.

People who watched the Republican presidential field closely might be surprised by how many, well, sane and sagacious characters there were: Haley Barbour, Mitch Daniels and Jeb Bush most prominent among them. All of them had reasons to stay out of the race and away from the national stage, but they saw pretty clearly on that Mitt was a weak candidate who would create a vacuum that would invite a freak show.

The candidate that many thought had the best chance: Governor Chris Christie of New Jersey. Although he flirted with the idea for a few weeks, ultimately he decided that his bona fides weren't strong enough. Once he made his decision to stay out, putting his clout behind Mitt was the obvious choice. While many thought he would make a strong candidate for VP, the vetting process dashed that notion pretty decisively. Suggestion: don't bet on Christie in 2016 (even if he clears BridgeGate). Who else will you probably not see again? Jon Huntsman, the ostensibly reasonable and moderate candidate who turned out to be not nearly as wealthy or principled as his public image led observers to believe.

The story presented here is that Romney lost because he refused to apologize even when he knew he had made a mistake and because he was so desperate to keep the conservative base that he wouldn't take on obviously offensive positions that he didn't agree with (e.g., Rush Limbaugh's insults to Sandra Fluke). While I agree that these were mistakes, I think it's odd that they didn't speak to the other obvious observation about the Romney candidacy: he lied and frequently, and his statements such as the infamous 47 Percent remark highlighted the electorate's worst fears that he was a plutocrat who didn't understand middle- or lower-economic-classes. (His team's explanations for why they lost only seemed to confirm those fears.)

Is that a lot of Romney? Yes- and perhaps it's even clearer why the book lacked the fun factor of Game Change.

m
mammothhawk229e
Sep 29, 2017

Obama got well oiled political machine compared to stumbling Republican's that targeted young, woman & minorities better.

SpencerSpencer Oct 01, 2014

This was just as addictive to read as GAME CHANGE, but the characters were less colorful and eye-catching, though more oblivious. Fascinating insight as to how presidential candidates can only present a polished, enhanced, or modified version of who they are. and what they believe. In this book and in GAME CHANGE, it appeared to me that many politicians choose to run for office not because it's in the best interest of the nation or because they believe they can make a positive change but because a couple of their friends, some family members, and a few constituents think they should.

s
seaxfamx
Aug 21, 2014

Enjoyed this reprise of the 2012 election with inside details. I didn't read the 2008 book, but this one kept me interested all the way to the end--even when I knew what the outcome was.

m
Memawrayne
May 21, 2014

Another good gook--like Game Change--that lets the reader see inside election campaigns. No candidate gets to be true to himself. It's all about appeasing the voter--telling them what they want to hear.

GUIDOS Mar 03, 2014

I read quite a bit of political history and after seeing this touted on Charlie Rose I read about 3/4 of it; I tried to ignore the obvious smarmy anti-Romney ( and cutesy Pro-David Axelrod, Obama, Emmanuel, et al) writing but the bias began to really bother me. Romney's faults were obvious and he lost the election quite handily because of them and because of "Obaman" (to quote them) facility with engaging Obama"s core constituency (Women, minorities and gay's, to again quote the authors).

I like my political books even-handed. The problem with this one is that it purports to be that and it demonstrably is not.

l
looper46
Feb 15, 2014

learned quite a bit...Bottom line=Nobody liked Mitt! Too rich, too out-of-touch, too willing to sell himself to the loony right for nomination. People realized that his party would NOT put US on right track. Learned how Obama and his party knew three before election hat they would win, almost to the exact numbers that the Dems. predicted. Poor Repubs. had no clue...

r
readerboybill
Dec 17, 2013

well written, acerbic commentary on political candidates!

p
pterry25
Dec 03, 2013

Fun to read. Learned a lot.

b
bbb1771
Nov 14, 2013

Better, more compelling than the original Game Change.

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