Sarah Palin's top aides held a conference call to denounce the forthcoming HBO movie "Game Change," which like any ultraliberal media production, knocks Palin as a mentally imbalanced moron. Reporters are already underlining the Palin aides haven't seen the movie.
But isn't that the point? As Pat Buchanan once said about another subject, "Does one need to lift the manhole cover to know what's below?" Did the Clinton team wait to see the movie before begging ABC to kill "Race to 9/11"? Did the Kennedy team wait to see the miniseries "The Kennedys" before getting it demoted to the Reelz channel? The Palin folks can be pretty certain — especially since the trailer itself announces it's a hit job.
Just see the rave review of Baltimore TV critic David Zurawik, who has seen this transparent propaganda, and the game is over.
"In a rational world, this film will help guarantee that Sarah Palin will never be elected to any major office again," he asserts triumphantly. Zurawik lines up just a few snippets of the Palin-bashing he relished.
1. McCain strategist (and Palin-bashing media darling) Steve Schmidt (played by Woody Harrelson) offers this analysis of the McCain-Palin ticket: "This wasn't a campaign. It was a bad reality show."
2. More than one adviser raises the possibility of Palin being mentally ill. And some of the actions and words attributed to her in the film lend credence to that smear. Zurawik adds, "I can't wait to hear the self-serving howls on Fox News when they see how Roger Ailes' million-dollar analyst mistake is depicted in the film."
3. Standing onstage on election night when it's all over, McCain says privately to Palin: "You are one of the leaders of the party now. Don't let yourself get co-opted by Limbaugh and the other extremists. They'll destroy the party if you let them."
4. Zurawik loved "how deftly the film uses documentary evidence to show Palin's incredible ignorance of foreign and even national affairs. Yes, the Katie Couric and Charlie Gibson interviews are front and center — and amplified. And Palin looks even more uninformed, dazed, confused and silly because the filmmakers share the point of view of senior McCain advisers, such as Schmidt, who literally moan in agony as Palin infamously starts talking about the geography of Alaska and Russia."
The filmmakers use real footage of Couric and then cut in Julianne Moore's fake Palin. Other reviews note that Steve Schmidt's actual Palin-trashing, "Game Change" book-promoting interview on "60 Minutes" is the exclamation point at the end of the film. HBO is merging their leftist "docudrama" with real liberal-bias "news" clips to leave one unmissable point: Never vote for Sarah Palin. Ever. For anything.
The last HBO docudrama from this team of director Jay Roach and screenwriter Danny Strong was "Recount," which made heroes out of Al Gore's aides and lawyers in 2000 as they tried to change the Florida election results. One reviewer summed it up as "a screechy example of liberal Hollywood condescension," and "the film's flair for exaggeration is as flabbergasting as it is embarrassing."
It should be safe to assume that HBO launched this hatchet job into production with the notion that Palin was going to run for president. (She's still hinting that she'd love to be picked if the GOP has a brokered convention.) This whole enterprise reeks like a super PAC ad, complete with a pile of Obama-supporting actors and an Obama-bundler as executive producer—Tom Hanks.
The film is called "Game Change," after the book with the same title. But in the actual book, when does Sarah Palin really appear? In Chapter 20, titled "Sarahcuda," on page 353. When the book came out in early 2010, the hottest backstage tidbits were about Obama. Harry Reid praised Barack Obama's political appeal as a "light-skinned" black man with "no Negro dialect, unless he wanted to have one." Ted Kennedy was furious at Bill Clinton after Clinton sneered that Obama was so inexperienced that "a few years ago, this guy would have been getting us coffee." But HBO had no interest in hiring actors to smear Obama or Reid or Clinton. How about the relationship of John and Elizabeth Edwards, which is clearly ripe for cinematic exploration/exploitation? HBO ignored how Edwards staffers told the authors that Mrs. Edwards made them feel like "battered spouses." In brief, the authors wrote: "What the world saw in Elizabeth: a valiant, determined, heroic everywoman. What the Edwards insiders saw: an abusive, intrusive, paranoid, condescending crazy woman."
But HBO wants to paint the Democrats as the valiant heroes and paint the Republicans as the paranoid crazy women. Nobody needs to wait until March to wonder whether HBO is ridiculous when it puts out a statement calling this movie "a balanced portrayal of the McCain/Palin campaign."