With the publication of Game Change, every thought Sarah Palin had (and she had more than a few, you left-wing sexists) was front page news.
So, how come the sequel, Double Down, might as well have been printed in a plain brown wrapper?
In the fall of 2011, they recount, “All too often, Obama felt as if he were driving with his foot on the brake.”
In a strategy meeting with his political advisers, Obama brought up climate change as an example of his undue caution. According to Halperin and Heilemann, the president said: “Maybe I should just come out and say what I really feel about this. Maybe I should just go out and say what I think about everything.”
Longtime adviser Robert Gibbs noted maps showing how he could struggle to get to 270 electoral votes, and he quipped, “Well, Mr. President, I don’t really see a Bulworth scenario in here.”
Nonetheless, it was decided that the president would come back to the next meeting with a list of issues he wanted to be bolder and more forthright about. At that session, he brought to the Roosevelt Room a stack of pages from a yellow legal pad on which he had scrawled his more heartfelt initiatives.
What were they? Climate change. “We’re never gonna outdrill the other guys,” he said. “We gotta take some risks on this issue.”
Immigration reform. His Latino allies were right that he had been too timid.
Poverty. He needed to do more.
Peace between “Israel and Palestine.” He had let politics get in the way of working toward a settlement.
Closing Gitmo. Again, he hadn’t tried hard enough. “No one is gonna persuade me that we should run a penal colony in perpetuity in America,” he said.
Gay marriage. He didn’t want to keep dissembling about his real position.
“Taken in sum, Obama’s list was a revealing document,” Halperin and Heilemann write. “He believed that over the past three years his progressive impulses had too often been trumped by the demands of pragmatism. That he had trimmed his sails in just the way his critics on the left had charged.”
Some of the aides thought Obama was sketching out a rough second-term agenda, but Chief of Staff Bill Daley had a different thought, according to the authors: “Holy sh**. We have a bunch of leakers here. I hope to God this doesn’t get out.”
Good job by you, Bill, it didn’t.
The president ran an almost entirely empty campaign based on attacking Mitt Romney, so much so that it bothered even the president.
Halperin and Heilemann describe in detail President Obama’s debate prep following the disaster in Denver. After one particularly awful practice session, Obama’s advisers staged an intervention, frankly telling him how poorly he was doing.
Obama admitted he was struggling. He said it was because he was a lawyer and had a natural tendency to over-explain, but that it also came from the vapidity of his own campaign. Halperin and Heilemann call it “Obama’s despair about his lack of an agenda.”
“You keep telling me I can’t spend too much time defending my record and that I should talk about my plans,” the president said, in Halperin and Heilemann’s paraphrase. “But my plans aren’t anything like the plans I ran on in 2008. I had a universal health-care plan then. Now I’ve got . . . what? A manufacturing plan? What am I gonna do on education? What am I gonna do on energy? There’s not much there.”
“There’s not much there.” Even that sounds like hyperbole now.
Will the mainstream media report this? Will they allow that they were duped? Not likely. They were and are willing dupes. They were and are accessories to the duping itself.