Well-documented, blow-by-blow account of the recent presidential election in all its benumbing, however significant and transformative, detail.
Washington Post chief correspondent Balz's book on those fisticuffs is a sequel, he writes, to The Battle for America 2008. The author provides an excellent record of what both candidates’ strategies were, what they needed to deliver to a vastly changing America and how they ultimately fared in the electorate. Balz evidently took copious notes as well as conducted myriad interviews, then and now. The chronicles of his discussions with some of the defeated Republicans, such as Newt Gingrich, are particularly valuable, giving the author a chance to ask: What were they thinking? Indeed, the election’s tone of “nuttiness” was set early on by the protracted process of selecting the Republican front-runner long before President Barack Obama had to get involved; the sideshows concerning Gingrich’s exploding cigars, Tim Pawlenty’s “Obamneycare” and Rick Perry’s “little brain fart” during the Michigan TV debate get the meatiest chapters. The choosing of Romney’s running mate garners a thorough going-over, though there is little on the vice-presidential debates. Indeed, after rehearsing the dueling conventions' highlights (the empty chair, Bill Clinton), Romney’s secretive “47 Percent Solution,” Obama’s lackluster showing at the Denver debate and the October Surprise (in the form of Hurricane Sandy), Balz ties up the actual election rather hastily. Still, he brings out the important shifts in the election process: technology as the key player, the campaigns' all-too-easy use of disguised money, the discrepancy of polls and the rashly high expectations of the Republicans, founded on a willful disregard for reality. Balz’s January 2013 interview with Romney forms a surprisingly touching curtain to the whole spectacle, revealing just how pessimistic the candidate himself was all along.
A lively, fair-minded and brisk post-mortem.