The List: Most interesting moments of 2012 campaign told in 'Double Down'
I enjoy reading about politics, particularly presidential campaigns.
Of the many such books I've read, "Game Change" is my favorite. It was written by reporters Mark Halperin and John Heilemann about the 2008 presidential campaign. Obviously, that election – with Barack Obama vs. Hillary Clinton in the Democratic Party primary and Sarah Palin as the Republican Party's vice presidential nominee – was full of interesting (and weird) stories.
The 2012 election wasn't nearly as interesting. Mitt Romney doesn't have an abundance of charisma. Neither does Paul Ryan, who Romney chose as his running mate. And, let's be honest, Obama didn't bring a lot of energy to his 2012 campaign, either.
Still, Halperin and Heilemann manage to make "Double Down: Game Change 2012" a darn good read. I finished the book early last month. I've actually finished two books since then, but I've had this list in my email and I'm just now getting around to sharing it.
Here, in no particular order, are things I found most interesting about "Double Down," and, hence, the 2012 election:
• Barack Obama really hates debates, and he doesn't prepare well for them. This was obvious in his first debate with Romney, which the president lost handily. In that debate, Obama seemed disinterested. Turns out, he was disinterested!
• Chris Christie was the most interesting Republican Party character in 2012. The New Jersey governor doesn't get that much ink in "Double Down," but the roadblocks his administration threw up during the Romney team's VP vetting process were telling – particularly in light of the ongoing "bridgegate" controversy.
• Bill Clinton still can flip the switch when called upon. His speech in Charlotte, N.C., at the Democratic National Convention was electrifying. Reading about his prep for the speech is nearly as fun.
• Benghazi was a bigger problem for Romney than Obama. Romney and his campaign bumbled every opportunity they had to make political hay of the deaths of a U.S. ambassador and three other Americans. You can almost feel Romney's pain reading about the thoughts going through his head at the time and the conversations he had with his campaign team.
• The president's disdain for Romney was real. Obama never considered Romney a political equal, sometimes to his disadvantage. But it was a bit startling, at times, to read about just how little Obama thought about his Republican opponent.
If you haven't yet read "Double Down," or "Game Change" for that matter, I'd recommend you do so.
Finally, this passage in the book really stuck with me, for whatever reason. It was written about the president discussing with his campaign team his accomplishments during his first term:
Obama didn't need to run through this preamble. Everyone knew the litany of his achievements. Foremost on that day, with the fresh news about al-Awlaki, it seemed the president was pondering the drone program that he had expanded so dramatically and with such lethal results, as well as the death of Bin Laden, which was still resonating worldwide months later. "Turns out I'm really good at killing people," Obama said quietly, "Didn't know that was gonna be a strong suit of mine."