30 Apr


Louise Annarino

April 30,2012

I recently read GAME CHANGE, Heilemann & Helperin,Harper collins,2010. I hesitated to read it, fearing it would be one more propaganda piece. I prefer to draw my own conclusions from direct sources rather than rely on second-hand factual analysis. However, the book is delightful. It spares us the too frequent substitution of interpretation of an event over description of the event. As detective Webb would say, “Just the facts, lady; just the facts.”

There is one caveat. The authors perceive events through a white cultural lens. The other candidates, Republican and Democratic were equally ethnocentric in their view of candidate Obama and his wife. Consequently, their comments regarding the Obamas must be questioned, rather than accepted automatically. We saw this phenomenon when Michelle and Barack Obama fist-bumped one another during a rally. White lenses did not know what to make of this “unusual” and “disturbing” behavior. Say what? Such ethnocentrism makes it easy to attack the Obamas. In ignoring racial cultural differences, we ignore the opportunity to truly understand one another. It is an easy trap to fall into. We avoid being racist by avoiding race altogether? Too many of us follow Steven Colbert’s line, “I don’t see color.”

The authors do not shy away from issues of race which surfaced during the campaign.When Heilemann and Helperin share descriptions of an exuberant Obama; and when they share descriptions of his confident, “I’ve got this.” in response to nervous staff before a debate appearance, they say he is arrogant. The audacity of a black man to rejoice in his power is often hard for white America to accept as mere confidence. Candidate Obama had to remind his own staff, “you guys are trying to pretend I’m not black,” Obama said urgently. “I’m black!” (Game Change, p.333,par.1). The cultural differences often complicated relationships among friend and foe.

“You can’t pretend this isn’t an issue. you know McCain is playing the race card by accusing me of playing the race card. They’re making sure that race is injected into this campaign. They’re going to keep doing it in a lot of ways, and when they do it we have to fight back.” (Game Change, p.33,par.2). The Clintons had their own problems running against an African-American. Republicans are still using this strategy in 2012, accusing the president and Mrs. Obama of injecting the race card, at every opportunity.

Another repeat of republican strategy in 2012 is the accusation of  Obama as celebrity. We all remember the July 30 ad with Britney Spears and Paris Hilton. While the celebrity of Spears and Hilton may have faded, that of Barack Obama remains strong. Since when is a popular president a bad one? Isn’t that how one wins a vote? Exactly! Attacking your opponent’s strength is an old ploy, worth repeating in every election. expect to see more of this.

GAME CHANGE is a fast read, and reminds us that what we see in ads, commentary and interplay between candidates may not be all there is to the 2012 campaign.


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