AFTER THE first Game Change, it was inevitable that Mark Halperin and John Heilemann’s next book, “Double Down,” would cover “Game Change 2012. There was certainly a parade of circus performers in the Republican primary. The final competition between Barack Obama and Mitt Romney simply isn’t that stirring. It’s nothing like 2008 or the primary that led up to it, but that’s not their fault.
As an author myself, I always root for a new book, especially one that’s expected to be “big,” to deliver. But then I know the sweat that goes into any book, even one that has all the trappings of a big fat publishing house, all the media in the world, and any appearance Heilemann and Halperin desire.
Every author with serious writing chops should be so lucky. Publishing is very difficult, the process is long and arduous and it takes a team to make a book stick. If you’re lucky enough to find an independent publishing house it’s exciting, challenging and rewarding, because there’s nothing like seeing the cover of your book for the first time. It is, however, a very long road, so you better be patient, that applies to all books today.
Jonathan Martin teased his reporting of Halperin and Heilemann’s “Double Down” with Anderson Cooper. Martin called Huntsman the John Edwards of “Double Down,” but let’s face it, that’s impossible. Jon Huntsman, a Mormon and serious businessman, even if he was two-timing his president to run himself, couldn’t come close to the John, Elizabeth and Rielle train wreck, not even if he tried.
Martin’s New York Time’s piece closes with a nugget on Jon Huntsman:
Mr. Huntsman’s son, former Gov. Jon M. Huntsman Jr. of Utah, is portrayed in perhaps the most negative light in the book. As Mr. Obama’s ambassador to China, he repeatedly assured top White House officials that he was not considering a Republican presidential bid, even as he was meeting with potential campaign strategists during a trip to his Washington home around Christmas 2010. And while Mr. Huntsman was in Beijing, his wife was exchanging emails with his eventual consultant, trying to be discreet about their political plans by referring to her husband only with the code word “HE.”
In other teasers, yes, team Obama thought of replacing Biden with Hillary, but she didn’t give him enough of a boost. The relationship Obama has with Bill Clinton started out with the newly elected president not appreciating him, but eventually came to not only respect him, but consider him a friend.
Before the original Game Change, remember that blockbuster article about the late Elizabeth Edwards confronting her husband in the parking lot?
There’s been nothing close to that being teased this time around, with the narrative and story to be told only as good as the dish the authors had at their fingertips.
On the Republican side, one element that holds gold, for my money, is the fools the Republicans made of themselves pontificating that Mitt Romney was not only closing in, but was going to win. Friendly media and the likes of Dick Morris, Sean Hannity and everyone else assuring everyone that Romney had the race won. Then there is the primary season.
After reading Richard Wolffe’s book, “The Message: The Reselling of President Obama,” the only chewy piece revolved around Stephanie Cutter, now a co-host on CNN’s “Crossfire.” Considering how Heilemann and Halperin cut up Hillary, then Palin, in Game Change, you have to wonder how they’ll handle Cutter. It’s a story I’d relish reading, especially if Cutter would write it herself, but then she’d have to find a new line of work.