Since my poker buddy John Heilemann was good enough to drop off a copy of his embargoed book, Game Change, on Sunday night and I got picked upby the Carmel car at 5:15 Monday morning to make a 7:50 a.m. flight to Punta Cana, and I read the book for the entire four hour flight, my guess is that it’s a safe bet that I was the first person in all of South America to have read its first 200 pages, and certainly the only one to report back to you all on it.

Well?

It’s kind of like crack. I am a fan of Heilemann’s writing and reporting, though not quite in sufficient quantities to offset how much of an unfan I am of Mark Halperin, his co-author. But while the pair have not been able to shake off the kind of clichés that made Halperin almost unreadable in the past–"like a ton of bricks to their psychicsolar plexus" occurs within about a page of "John Kerry was saddled with more baggage than a curbside porter at Dulles airport," Heilemann, a former New Yorker staff writer has clearly massaged this prose so that nobody needs to be embarrassed about having his or her name on it.(Interestingly, and undoubtedly significantly, Heilemann’s name precedes Halperin’s on the cover, though alphabetically, it should be the other way around.)

Anyway, most of us probably thought we were sick of election stories. And you read either Richard Wolffe’s or David Plouffe’s book, then you damn well knew you were. (I did not read Dan Balz and Haynes Johnson’s book, much less the insta-Newsweek books, etc.) But this book not only rips along like a Superman comic, it answers lots of questions that have been lingering in our minds for a long time. And what’s more, it blows away lots of things you thought you knew were true–even if you thought you were among the only people who knew them. Everybody talked to these guys and while there are a few incidents where they read people’s minds in ways I cannot accept, it appears solidly sourced as this kind of journalism goes (and blame Bob Woodward for ‘this kind of journalism’).

Anyway, it’s amazing how good both John and Elizabeth Edwards were at appearing good when they were apparently such lunatics. And Jesus, what a catastrophe a Hillary presidency would have been. And goodness, what a cool cucumber this Obama fellow is, even if he can’t be bothered to bring his "A Game" until the final half of the final quarter of any contest.

In any case, if you want the gossip, it’s all over the Internet. I’m just telling you you’ll enjoy reading this thing, even if, as it should, it pisses you off lots. And I should add, if it’s not obvious, that there can hardly be any question, after reading this book, that the best person won, and that’s really, really, lucky as we have one hell of a weird way of picking our leaders in this country. Also, don’t believe too much of what you read, except here…

An update:

Ok, all that wine, sun and cappucino has caused havoc with my sleeping habits and now I’m pretty sure I’m the only person in all of Latin America to have finished "Game Change." (Ok, its unputdownableness helped.) Here’s who comes off horribly: Bill Clinton, Mark Penn, John and Elizabeth Edwards, Reille Whatshername, Cindy McCain, Rudy G., Sarah Palin. Here’s who comes off pretty bad: Hillary Clinton. Here’s who comes off OK: John McCain, Patty Solis Doyle. Here’s who comes off great: Barack Obama, Michelle Obama, David Axlerod, David Plouffe, Steve Schmidt, Rick Davis. Here’s who gets a free pass: Everybody in the media, pretty much, but especially ABC News, CNN, and their lobotomized debate questioners.

What does that tell you about their sources?

He who controls the future controls the past.

Also, I gave up on this years ago, but I have always felt the phrase of"African-American" to be a ridiculous one. Barack Obama is genuinely African-American, but hardly anybody else who goes by the phrase is. I counted myself, ever so briefly, a foot-soldier in Stanley Crouch’s movement to bring back the honorable (and accurate) name "American negro" when it was accurate and whatever was accurate when it was not. I gave up on that, as it caused too much trouble I didn’t need. So now I say "black" which is also often inaccurate. But "negro" has never been a slur, it is just not the preferred term of the alleged spokespeople for linguistic correctness. The idea that what Harry Reid said is genuinely offensive to anyone is comical. And if you see anyone acting like it is, even if they are merely asking the question on some dumb cable show, then you can conclude that that person is purposely full of shit and ignore everything he or she says for the rest of your life.