"This shit would be really interesting if we weren't in the middle of it."—Barack Obama, September 2008
In 2008, the presidential election became blockbuster entertainment. Everyone was watching as the race for the White House unfolded like something from the realm of fiction. The meteoric rise and historic triumph of Barack Obama. The shocking fall of the House of Clinton—and the improbable resurrection of Hillary as Obama's partner and America's face to the world. The mercurial performance of John McCain and the mesmerizing emergence of Sarah Palin. But despite the wall-to-wall media coverage of this spellbinding drama, remarkably little of the real story behind the headlines has yet been told.
In Game Change, John Heilemann and Mark Halperin, two of the country's leading political reporters, use their unrivaled access to pull back the curtain on the Obama, Clinton, McCain, and Palin campaigns. How did Obama convince himself that, despite the thinness of his résumé, he could somehow beat the odds to become the nation's first African American president? How did the tumultuous relationship between the Clintons shape—and warp—Hillary's supposedly unstoppable bid? What was behind her husband's furious outbursts and devastating political miscalculations? Why did McCain make the novice governor of Alaska his running mate? And was Palin merely painfully out of her depth—or troubled in more serious ways?
Game Change answers those questions and more, laying bare the secret history of the 2008 campaign. Heilemann and Halperin take us inside the Obama machine, where staffers referred to the candidate as "Black Jesus." They unearth the quiet conspiracy in the U.S. Senate to prod Obama into the race, driven in part by the fears of senior Democrats that Bill Clinton's personal life might cripple Hillary's presidential prospects. They expose the twisted tale of John Edwards's affair with Rielle Hunter, the truth behind the downfall of Rudy Giuliani, and the doubts of those responsible for vetting Palin about her readiness for the Republican ticket—along with the McCain campaign staff's worries about her fitness for office. And they reveal how, in an emotional late-night phone call, Obama succeeded in wooing Clinton, despite her staunch resistance, to become his secretary of state.
Based on hundreds of interviews with the people who lived the story, Game Change is a reportorial tour de force that reads like a fast-paced novel. Character driven and dialogue rich, replete with extravagantly detailed scenes, this is the occasionally shocking, often hilarious, ultimately definitive account of the campaign of a lifetime.
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More than any other single thing, in any case, the practical irrelevance of actual obedience to Christ accounts for the weakened effect of Christianity on the world today, with its increasing tendency to emphasize political and social action as the primary way to serve God. It also accounts for the practical irrelevance of Christian faith to individual character development and overall personal sanity and well-being.
"The command 'Be ye perfect' is not idealistic gas. Nor is it a command to do the impossible. He is going to make us into creatures that can obey that command." C. S. Lewis, Mere Christianity
Kingdom praying and its efficacy is entirely a matter of the innermost heart's being totally open and honest before God. It is not an informational but intimate communion with the one who truly knows our needs It is a matter of what we are saying with our whole being, moving with resolute intent and clarity of mind into the flow of God's action. In apprenticeship to Jesus, this is one of the most important things we learn how to do. He teaches us how to be in prayer what we are in life and how to be in life what we are in prayer.
"The discipline of secrecy will help us break the grip of human opinion over our souls and our actions. A discipline is an activity in our power that we do to enable us to do what we cannot do by direct effort. Jesus is here leading us into the discipline of secrecy. We from time to time practice doing things approved of in our religious circles – giving, praying, fasting, attending services of the church, and so on – but in such a way that no one knows. Thus, our motivation and reward for doing these things cannot come from human beings. We are liberated from slavery to eyes, and then it does not matter whether people know or not. We learn to live constantly in this way."
"The adult members of churches today rarely raise serious religious questions for fear of revealing their doubts or being thought of as strange. There is an implicit conspiracy of silence on religious matters in the churches. This conspiracy covers up the fact that the churches do not change lives or influence conduct to any appreciable degree." Clyde Reid
Prayer is a matter of explicitly sharing with God my concerns about what he too is concerned about in my life. And of course he is concerned about my concerns and, in particular, that my concerns should coincide with his. This is our walk together. Out of it I pray.
Prayer as kingdom praying is an arrangement explicitly instituted by God in order that we as individuals may count, and count for much, as we learn step by step how to govern, to reign with him in his kingdom. To enter and to learn this reign is what gives the individual life its intended significance. This high calling also explains why prayer frequently requires much effort, continuous effort, and on some matters possibly years and years of effort. Prayer is, above all, a means of forming character. It combines freedom and power with service and love. What God gets out of our lives - and indeed, what we get out of our lives - is simply the person we become. It is God's intention that we should grow into the kind of person he could empower to do what we want to do. Then we are ready to 'reign for ever and ever' (Rev. 22:5).
"Brother Lawrence, who was a kitchen worker and cook, remarks, Our sanctification does not depend upon changing our works, but in doing that for God's sake which we commonly do for our own. . . It is a great delusion to think that the times of prayer ought to differ from other times. We are as strictly obliged to adhere to God by action in the time of action as by prayer in the season of prayer."
Nondiscipleship is the elephant in the church. It is not the many moral failures, financial abuses or amazing general similarity between Christian and non-Christians. These are only the effects of the underlying problem. The fundamental negative reality among Christians believers today, is the failure to be constantly learning how to live their lives in the kingdom among us. And it is an accepted reality. The divisions of professing Christians and to those for whom it is a matter of whole life devotion to God and those who maintain a consumer or client relationship to the church has now been an accepted reality for the last 1500 years.
Henri Nouwen well describes our common situation: “We simply go along with the many "musts" and "oughts" that have been handed on to us, and we live with them as if they were authentic translations of the Gospel of our Lord. People must be motivated to come to church, youth must be entertained, money must be raised, and above all everyone must be happy. Moreover, we ought to be on good terms with the church and civil authorities; we ought to be liked or at least respected by a fair majority of our parishioners; we ought to move up in the ranks according to schedule; and we ought to have enough vacation and salary to live a comfortable life.”
Do we now even have any idea of what discipleship evangelism, as we might call it, would look Ilke? What message would we preach that would naturally lead to a decision to become an apprentice to Jesus in The Kingdom Among Us? I hope we can now understand what it might be, having worked our way this far. I hope that our understanding of what it is really to trust Jesus Christ, the whole person, with our whole life, would make the call to become his whole-life apprentice the natural next step. That would be discipleship evangelism. And it would be very different from what is now done.
One of the greatest weaknesses in our teaching and leadership today is that we spend so much time trying to get people to do things good people are supposed to do, without changing what they really believe. It doesn't succeed very well, and that is the open secret of church life.
Very little of our being lies under the direction of our conscious minds, and very little of our actions runs from our thoughts and consciously chosen intentions. Our mind on its own is an extremely feeble instrument, whose power over life we constantly tend to exaggerate. We are incarnate beings in our very nature, and we live from our bodies. If we are to be transformed, the body must be transformed, and that is not accomplished by talking at it.more
Maybe America just voted for the only sane people in the pack - Barack and Michelle. This book recounts the astonishing dysfunction of the Edward's marriage (both of the partners equally pouring the crazy), and the unbelievable delusional thinking of John Edwards. To think that he had a chance at the nomination, or the vice presidency, or any office, is frightening, notwithstanding his sometimes superior policy proposals. The Clintons are revealed to be more dysfunctional than I had imagined them, although one does sometimes sense an underlying affection as well. Is that affection real or a well practiced political habit? It's very hard to read them, but whatever relationship they have worked out it would be hard to describe it as completely positive or parsable in everyday terms.
As for John McCain and Cindy, their marriage is revealed to be clearly a shell of an actual relationship - like the Clintons they seem to be largely a political corporation. The Palins, while explored in less depth, are also pretty obvious head cases, individually and as a unit, to say nothing of Sarah Palin's astonishing, mind numbing, blistering, gobsmacking ignorance. In all of these above relationships the rumors or realities of infidelities circulate.
In contrast to all the rest of them the Obamas come out seeming like fairly sane and emotionally whole people with an actual love relationship and friendship that might even have significance to them beyond their career as a political family. And, somehow America chose Obama, and somehow it rejected the other nutcases in their nutcase marriages. What that means, I do not know.more
You learn about all the major players in the Presidential campaign, including John Edwards, Barack Obama, Hillary Clinton, John McCain, and of course, Sarah Palin. I was surprised by many things I read; for instance, John McCain was not very invested in his campaign for months, and there were a few times it almost ended. Sarah Palin became so morose and withdrawn during the campaign that McCain's people called in a psychiatrist to observe her mental state. Michelle Obama was completely opposed to Barack Obama running for president - and Cindy McCain didn't want John to run, either. John Edwards was extremely egotistical, and toward the end of his campaign, completely delusional, and his wife, Elizabeth, comes across completely differently than her public persona.
It's a juicy story, but one with plenty of political behind the scenes information, as well - the part in which the authors cover the financial meltdown is very interesting - and it reads like a novel. Anyone who has interest in politics, especially in the 2008 election, will be very entertained by this book.more