I generally try to read everything credible-looking about the new Halperin-Heilemann campaign book Double Down so that I will feel no compunction to read the book itself. Walter Shapiro’s ruminations on the book at TAP seemed a good bet. It’s no reflection on Walter’s writing or thinking that I wish now that I had not.
To put first things first, I had not heard that H & H got a $5 million advance for Double Down. Aside from this being another sad anecdote in the annals of latter-day inequality, you really couldn’t expect H & H to produce anything better than Game Change with that sort of market reinforcement of the earlier book’s gossipy excesses and distortions of bigger pictures.
But worse, far worse, is the news that the candidate H & H seem to have spent their whole lives looking for could be just around the bend:
The character leaping off the page in Double Down is not (no surprise) the buttoned-down Romney or the self-contained Obama. Channeling their frustrations about a campaign that never was, Halperin and Heilemann invoke Chris Christie at every opportunity. They deliver one scoop late in the book: Romney had justifiable problems with the gaps in the materials that Christie provided as part of his vice-presidential vetting.
Double Down lavishes an over-written 17-page chapter (“Big Boy”) on Christie’s 2011 decision not to run. Tim Pawlenty, who actually sought the nomination and who, on paper, should have been Romney’s toughest challenger, is kissed off in four flat pages.
If Chris Christie is so exciting to Mark Halperin and John Heilemann, patriotic Americans should flee from the New Jersey governor like the very political plague he likely represents.