By Greg Smith, Staff Writer
All politics aside, there’s no denying that Sarah Palin’s overnight emergence into the national consciousness fall 2008 marked a new breed of presidential candidate.
“The 2008 election was the birth of a phenomenon where we saw the blurring of entertainment and politics, where candidates became more recognizable as reality stars,” says Danny Strong, screenwriter of HBO’s new movie Game Change. “What many Republicans have leveled against Obama is the same claim, that he’s more of a celebrity than a politician.” Look no further than Twitter, Instagram, or Spotify to see Obama’s social media reach.
“Then there are strong parallels between the 2008 election and the current GOP campaign trail. At one point an actual reality star, Donald Trump, was the frontrunner! Each week these charismatic personalities are suddenly on our radar that are less substantive than what we would normally associate with presidents,” Strong says. And more often than not, their descent is as sharp as their rise.
Strong is no stranger to political thrillers. In 2008, he wrote Recount for HBO, a move chronicling the weeks after the 2000 U.S. presidential election and the subsequent recounts in Florida, for which he won a Writers Guild of America Award.
“Politics are a great subject [for writing]because the stakes are so high, the issues so important to the audience, that it adds an extra dimension, it deals with national consequences that people care about.”
The 2008 presidential election and Palin’s cult of personality has been thoroughly dissected across all media platforms, so to approach the story with as fresh a perspective as possible, Strong “dove into it, as deeply as I could. The goal was to dig deep into the individuals, to find the human emotional drama of what they were going through.”
“[Director] Jay Roach and I saw that not only was this one of the greatest political stories of all time, but one of the greatest modern stories. It was dramatic, exciting, unusual. A small town mayor has been governor of Alaska for two years and out of nowhere is now running for vice president. No one knows her; even the people that picked her knew so little,” Strong says. But she became a household name in no time.
For a much deeper analysis of this subject, Mark Halperin, co-author of Game Change: Obama and the Clintons, McCain and Palin, and the Race of a Lifetime and political analyst for Time and Newsweek, will be interviewed by Rabbi David Wolpe about his book, its sequel, and what we can expect in the 2012 presidential race. The event will begin with a special screening of the film adaptation of Game Change followed by a Q&A with Danny Strong. The program will be held at the American Jewish University located at 15600 Mulholland Dr. in Los Angeles on Sunday, April 22, at 5 p.m. To make a reservation, call (310) 440-1246. Suggested donation is $20.