The best part of a political campaign is the after-action review that comes when some enterprising journos grab DC insiders by the lapels and convince them to talk about all the crap that went down on the trail. Convincing politicos to talk is not as difficult as it seems, since most people in DC will yak endlessly about themselves prompted only by the word: “Hi.”
For years this campaign accounting was accomplished nicely by Jack Germond and Jules Witcover, who managed to uncover such nuggets as the one about Dan Quayle being so dumb that if you told him to turn off the light he’d forget what he was doing before he reached the switch. Good stuff. Today we have Mark Halperin and John Heilemann who knocked the socks off of the chattering class a few years ago with “Game Change.” Since Sarah Palin isn’t here to kick around anymore, the newest tome about the race for the White House is “Double Down” and it goes for the Romney jugular while managing to hit collateral damage against Obama's campaign in the process.
I know what you’re thinking: Of course I haven’t read it. No one will – they’ll do the “Washington Read” where you look in the index, find your name, read about yourself and put the book on the table so people will think you studied it. But I can skim the breathless accounts and book reviews like the next girl, and it seems to me that the whole megillah is less about the past and more about the future: Specifically, what is going to happen in 2016. So buckle in, kids. Here are the gossipy “Double Down” tidbits about our favorite IP candidates. Thanks to Politico for this helpful account:
#1: Chris Christie: Today marks the official Christie gubernatorial re-election walk, but the book is bound to cast some long shadows over Christie’s victory. The book makes several accusations about lateness, errors, and temper tantrums that would make a three year old stand back and applaud. Basically, the one line summary is that the New Jersey Republican’s file was “littered with potential landmines” which was why he was not considered for a VP position in 2012. Whoops.
#2: Joe Biden: And speaking of Vice Presidents, perhaps the biggest jaw dropper to come out of the book is that the Obama campaign considered dumping my boyfriend Veep Bee for Hillary Clinton. The White House, of course, vehemently denies this, but the account made a larger point that Obama did exclude Biden from a number of campaign appearances which makes him look marginalized at best, like a yutz at worst. The yutz factor has always been Biden’s Achilles heel, so this is not good news if he’s planning a bid against Hillary.
#3: Bill Clinton: Though not running for anything, the book is apparently littered with tales of Bill’s annoying solipsistic behaviors which may have an effect on the Mrs. as she launches her own 2016 campaign. I doubt anyone is going to be surprised that Bill Clinton, who was once described quite funnily to me as a man with “owl sized appetites” has narcissistic tendencies, but who needs that when Chuck Schumer wants you to be the first woman president?
All of this is good, clean fun unless you are the subject of the fish-themed nicknames that were apparently used in the super-secret vetting process for VP: “Pufferfish” for Christie, “Filet o Fish” for Portman, Rubio was “Pescado” and Ryan was (giggles) “Fishconsin.” Well at least that one was funny.
Does any of this hearsay mean anything as our tireless IP candidates run for the roses? Probably not explicitly. I mean, who cares if Obama said that he liked Bill Clinton “in doses?” What matters is the fuel this book gives to the existing narratives about the candidates. If the public already has a wary eye on Christie's temper or Biden’s ability to be taken seriously, this doesn’t help. But that is why time is a friend to candidates who need to restore their street cred. Remember Rubio’s water lunge from the post-SoTU speech last year? Neither does anyone else. Five bucks says that in a year from now “Double Down” will simply be that awful KFC sandwich that can kill a healthy man with one bite.
Unless the book gets made into an HBO movie with Zach Woods as Paul Ryan.