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The End of the LineAt long last, the beginning of 2013 reviews. Let us take a more leisurely (and more informative) approach to today’s review of a short book.

TitleThe End of the Line: Romney vs. Obama: The 34 Days That Decided the Election, by Glenn Thrush and Jonathan Martin

Date: January 5, 2013 (#1)

The End of the Line is the fourth of four instant reaction reports on the 2012 presidential campaign by two senior Politico journalists.

Published on December 17, the book is the product of six weeks of solemn deliberation on the lessons of 2012. If poetry is “emotion recollected in tranquility,” The End of the Line is demagoguery recollected in haste.

The natural–and perhaps unfair–comparison is John Heileman and Mark Halperin’s Game Change, which chronicled the more colorful 2008 election. Comparison is odious: Messrs. Thrush and Martin’s work is more long-form journalism than book, and in the era before eBook publishing (lo these many years ago) would have been cut by several thousand words and printed in The New Yorker or The Atlantic.

Odious, too, because the events and dramatis personæ of 2008 were so much more compelling than 2012. The End of the Line suffers the absence of La Divina Palin and Hillary “Take-My-Milk-for-Gall” Clinton.

Needless to say, this is not the sort of book to which one looks for wisdom. Of choice anecdotes, there are a few, slavishly reproduced here for our dear Reader’s delectation:

But Nate Silver said…

Obama had drafted what his team jokingly called his “loser” speech with Favreau days earlier. Romney had written nothing, pretty sure he wouldn’t need one.

That way madness lies…

I was seated with Rhoades,” recalled Fehrnstrom. “We were up in the Romney box, looking at each other, saying, ‘What the hell is going on here?’” Eastwood had completely ignored their instructions. “We sent him a script and some talking points, and basically what we wanted him to perform was his ‘Halftime in America’ spiel,” said the aide, recalling Eastwood’s much-praised 2012 Super Bowl ad for Chrysler. “That’s what we expected him to do. And he showed up without any notes, nothing for the teleprompter, and he asked for a chair, and he was given a chair.” The Eastwood episode, Romney supporters would later say, projected the image of a party growing old and a bit addled.

Qu’ils mangent de la brioche!

The moment Romney officials heard about the video, they knew it was devastating and possibly fatal. In Boston, “Mitt happens” was the mordant watchword for the candidate’s gaffes. But no one was joking this time. Romney knew it was a disaster. He felt so bad about his remarks that he sent a personal email to some of his senior aides taking responsibility for the damage he had caused and apologizing.

Pride goeth before a reelection

When it was all over, Obama was simply happy to have the ordeal behind him and seemed upbeat as he walked backstage with the first lady. He thought it had been a draw. “C’mon, I didn’t think it was that bad,” he said to his downcast aides a few minutes later. Michelle Obama corrected him, according to a Democratic source. “No, it wasn’t good,” she told her husband.

The one thing up with which I shall not put

After Denver, Gibbs—with the knowledge of Plouffe, Messina, and Axe—began emailing with the president on Obama’s secure BlackBerry to get a better sense of where Obama’s head was at.

Next: Against Fairness, by Stephen T. Asthma