“Game Change” Portrays Palin Accurately

Julia Hass, Staff Writer

Everyone loves to hate Sarah Palin, and the newly released HBO film, Game Change, provides a startling inside look at the logic behind putting Palin on the ticket and her effect on the McCain campaign.

The film opens with a 60 Minutes interview with McCain’s top campaign advisor Steve Schmidt (played by Woody Harrelson) talking to Anderson Cooper about Palin. Schmidt ultimately admitted that if he had the campaign to do again, he would choose not to have Palin on the ticket, and he cited the sole reason behind the decision to have Palin in the vice presidential slot, saying, “We needed a game change.”

And that they did. McCain had earned the Republican candidacy slot, yet was trailing behind Obama in the polls, and if things continued on in the same manner, McCain would definitely lose. McCain’s top advisors, including Schmidt, determined that one of the major areas where McCain was lacking followers was amongst women. Their belief was that if McCain had a woman vice president, the female demographic would be more likely to vote for him. This assumption ultimately turned out to be completely false, as women seemed to find reasons to loathe Palin even more than men.

With this reasoning in mind, McCain’s advisors set out to find him a female running mate. An advisor ultimately stumbled upon Alaskan governor Sarah Palin while watching YouTube clips of politicians speaking. An attractive Republican woman, a well-liked governor of a state, and a proficient public speaker (when discussing subjects she was comfortable with), Palin seemed like an ideal choice.

In the campaign’s utter desperation for their “game change,” the vet for Palin was rushed and not thorough, even lacking character witnesses. Everyone seemed to be blinded with awe, and did not see the flaws and gaps in knowledge that would become apparent later on.

However, these flaws were not noticed immediately. It wasn’t until Schmidt asked Palin a question about the head of British government and her answer incorrectly regarded the queen, instead of the prime minister, that he realized that Palin knew absolutely nothing of foreign policy or common domestic policies in which a political candidate should be well-versed.

That moment should have instilled a great fear in the viewers. To think of how close this woman was to the White House, with little to no knowledge about anything concerning politics, does not reflect well on our modern political system.

And so began the education of Sarah Palin to fill the vast holes in her knowledge. This shockingly included teaching her who the antagonists of the World Wars were, and why North and South Korea are separate countries. However, here is where the producers of the film may have taken a few liberties for entertainments’ sake. More than having her seem uneducated on foreign policies and other basic political affairs, Palin was portrayed as someone who didn’t get a rudimentary high school education.

At this point in the film, we have to ask, is this depiction of Sarah Palin a completely accurate account? Game Change was based on a book written by political journalists who interviewed many people involved in the McCain-Palin campaign, including top advisors. Does this mean that we can completely trust all the occurrences portrayed in this film? There are obviously elements of this film that advisors couldn’t have known, yet the producers portray it as the truth.

Both McCain and Palin have deemed the film “a completely false narrative,” though both have chosen not to actually watch the movie. However, a top aide to Palin during the campaign, Nicolle Wallace (a Miramonte alum as chance would be), called it, “True enough to make me squirm.” That being said, since the campaign has terminated, Wallace and Palin have been engaged in a rather public feud, so whether or not all Wallace has to say can be trusted isn’t certain. At this point Palin supporters point out the fact that the people involved with the making of the film were almost all Democrats. As the Hollywood Reporter stated, the top producers and talent in the film have collectively donated over $200,000 to the Democratic Party.

Though the representation of Palin was harsh, I personally believe the film was at least a fairly accurate representation of the trials that were faced in the McCain-Palin campaign.

As a political figure, Palin is pretty much fair game, and this depiction clearly states that Palin was completely unfit for office. Nevertheless, it must be said that Palin was not portrayed as a bad person; she was shown as a loving mother and a nice woman, but in general was simply not fit for a political position of any kind. Palin’s family was one that did not seem to include the drama that the media portrayed them as having. In reality they were simply a family that was dealing with the trials of having a child with Downs syndrome and another that was pregnant at age 16, all while having a mother running for vice-president of the nation. Considering the circumstances, the family seemed an ideal one, with Palin successfully balancing her political life and duties as a mother and wife. However, this was the extent of any kindness awarded towards Palin in the film.

In contrast with the harsh portrayal of Palin in the film, Game Change was unbelievably kind to John McCain. Apart from swearing a concerning number of times, McCain’s image was pristine. He was actually shown as a great candidate, who made an unfortunate decision in the hopes of winning.

This representation of McCain cancels out the idea that the film was made by Democrats in an attempt to trash the Republican Party. Even if the extent of Palin’s lack of knowledge was exaggerated, it must have been based on something. Overall the film was a fair illustration of the truth.