On Friday's Real Time, when confronted with the fact that President Ronald Reagan blamed his administration's problems on Jimmy Carter for many years, Meghan McCain responded, "I wasn't born yet, so I wouldn't know." She was shut down pretty fast.
On one hand, I do feel a bit sorry for McCain, as I think her point about making an effort to go on shows intended to reach a different audience (she mentions the "shit" she's getting simply for daring to appear on Bill Maher's program, a political talk show that aims to engage panelists from various political viewpoints) was a good one. On the other hand, it's a bit tough to feel much sympathy when she has willingly chosen to make herself the voice of the "new" Republican party: nobody is forcing her to go on these shows, and surely she knows how these things go by now.
When McCain argued that President Obama's administration needed to stop blaming their current problems on the Bush administration and move on, Paul Begala, a CNN commentator and former adviser to President Bill Clinton, pointed out that President Ronald Reagan did the same thing when he took over for President Jimmy Carter, blaming Carter's administration for many of his troubles. When McCain pulled out her "I wasn't born yet line," Begala was able to expose a huge flaw in the Meghan McCain political machine: an inability to back up and defend her fairly strong statements with facts and figures. Her reaction after being shut down by Begala was also infuriating: "...you clearly know everything and I'm just the blonde sitting here," a statement which did nothing to help her seem capable of arguing her points but made it sound like she was being bullied simply because she's young and blonde. Begala was not going after McCain for her age or her hair color, or even for being the daughter of a prominent Republican senator: he was going after her for not having the information to back up her statements.
Watching McCain attempt to engage in conversation with four other panelists who held vastly different political opinions was awkward in that she seemed to approach the situation ready and willing to play the victim. And Bill Maher didn't help things any by constantly patting her on the shoulder and stepping in front of McCain after Begala's smackdown to say, "He's a mean man, that Paul Begala. I'll protect you."
Maher, please. Meghan McCain is a 24-year-old woman who has willingly chosen to make herself a spokesperson for the young people of her party. She doesn't need to be protected from criticism: she needs to be able to take it, and throw back some legitimate criticisms of her own. I respect McCain for making an effort to appear on unfriendly territory and try to make her case, but if she really expects to be taken seriously, she's going to have to go in armed with enough knowledge to back up her words.
Paul Begala Schools Meghan McCain [Huffington Post]