The weekend explosion over Harry Reid's reported "negro" comment, is only one example of the consternation and amusement John Heilemann's and Mark Halperin's book Game Change is causing in political circles. Going on sale tomorrow, the book promises never-before-seen glimpses at the personal and secret political lives of the 2008 presidential candidates, from the scandal-ridden John Edwards to the much-maligned McCain campaign and the labyrinthine tangles of the Clintons. Those with advance copies or excerpts are already picking it apart for gossip-hungry readers. From both veteran political journalists and skeptical bloggers, here's what you need to know about Game Change, for purposes of purchasing or disdaining:


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  • Politics Is Messy: Reid, Clinton, and Edwards Edition  "Political scientists aren't going to like this book," says the Atlantic's politics blogger Marc Ambinder: "it portrays politics as it is actually lived by the candidates, their staff and the press, which is to say--a messy, sweaty, ugly, arduous competition between flawed human beings." Some of the examples he highlights: (1) the Reid comment, (2) "the 'war room within a war room' that Hillary Clinton put together to deal with questions about her husband's 'libido,'" (3) "the unbelievably dysfunctional husband and wife team of John and Elizabeth Edwards," the latter who, according to the book, "was known to Edwards insiders as 'abusive, intrusive, paranoid, condescending, crazywoman.'" Palin-watchers, however, will be disappointed: "the coverage of McCain's selection of Sarah Palin is mostly familiar ground."
  • Obama Didn't Think Much of Biden  Hot Air's Doctor Zero sees "the remarkable level of tension" between Biden and Obama as the story to watch for: "the electorate might have been interested to know that Obama was willing to put someone he didn’t even trust on his nightly campaign conference call a heartbeat away from the presidency. The voters would also have benefited from seeing how the campaign revealed Obama's remarkably poor managerial skills."
  • Reid Has Been the Only One to Apologize  Politico's Michael Calderone notes that "Reid alone among the book's subjects immediately attested to the accuracy of the book's account and apologized for his remarks." He also asserts that "for anybody who dislikes establishment journalism--its coziness with sources and its obsession with process--this book takes it to new levels."
  • Obama Stands Out, points out Calderone's Politico colleague Ben Smith. "The one character who appears in the book as he'd like you to see him: Obama." In contrast, "John and Elizabeth are a vain empty suit and Lady Macbeth; Hillary is as calculating, hard-edged, maladroit, and ideological as her critics have always maintained." Does Smith think this reflects the writers' agenda? Not exactly: Obama's different image, "one way or another, explains why he won: He was either untroubled by the deep contradictions that dogged his rivals; or he was better at concealing them. (He is also the only candidate whose staffers remain with him, deeply invested in his image and unwilling to dish, which helps.)"
  • Aren't We Tired of This Already?  Balloon Juice blogger Doug J has had enough:
Is everyone else as sick of hearing about the new Halperin book (annoying titled "Game Change") as I am?... I should probably just be grateful that Tiger Woods doesn’t make an appearance in the book (he doesn’t, right?), but the whole thing depresses me, it all feels like some recounting of sordid deeds among the ruling class in some long-dead civilization.