Political celebutante Meghan McCain is still around, serving as the Official Poster Child for Young Republicans and trying to paint herself as a cool conservative who isn't into all that icky hateful stuff young people find abhorrent. But as hard as she tries to sit at the cool kids' table, her act still comes across less like a fresh take on issues of the day and more like a substanceless ad campaign; at best, an attempt to establish a brand rather than offer any valuable commentary or insight, at worst, deliberately misleading Republican party marketing. Whatever you're selling, McCain, I ain't buying.
Because nearly every other Republican in the public eye right now is so awful, initially, McCain's message sounds like a breath of fresh air. A conservative who doesn't believe that birth control should be outlawed? A Republican who doesn't think homosexuality is a mental illness? A member of the 1% admitting that the wealth gap is probably frustrating for a lot of people? Incredible! But when you peel back the low expectations set for McCain by the whackadoodle voice of the 2012 GOP, you still find a whole lot of nothing. And she still doesn't represent the Republican party as a whole. Not by a longshot.
In a new interview with Pushback's Tara Kutz, McCain says Occupy Wall Street isn't a bunch of hippie freeloaders, women are treated unfairly by the media, and that Jay Leno's a really great political analyst. Anyone can get applause by offering vague moderate platitudes like her observations on the growing wealth gap in the US ("I think, even though some people can't eloquently say what it is that they think is wrong, the disconnect between the very, very wealthy and the very, very poor is getting wider, and that anger is very valid.") or gay rights ("What you do in your alone time, as long as it's legal, is of no business to me, which is why I'm such a proponent of gay marriage.") aren't anywhere near what dominant Republicans think about this issue. Can you imagine John Boehner saying this? Paul Ryan? Nicki Haley? While it's great that McCain isn't as nutty as other conservatives, a person who signs up for the party of Meghan McCain will end up with the legislation of Mitch McConnell.
McCain also says that she believes her role in the public eye is to not only be a voice for young Republican women, but also to change the way that the public sees Republican women. Too often, she notes, women are viewed as cold battleaxes like Hillary Clinton or sexy idiots like Sarah Palin. You know what that means: it's time for a sexy battleaxe revolution!
I'm trying to change the way we see women in Republican politics. I didn't really have any role models growing up that really identified whom I wanted to be. I met [former MTV News reporter] Tabitha Soren when I was 13 years old, when she interviewed my father on the campaign trail. She was the first person I had ever met that looked like someone who I could hang out with, who dressed really cool, had a cool haircut, had cool make up on, and was asking my father really tough questions about the election. She was the first person I had met that really gave an example that you could do it all.
So, she would like to change the way that America sees Republican women by focusing on looking a certain way? With her brilliant plan to rebrand Republicans as a young, attractive blonde woman, she'll surely turn the Fox News stereotype right on its head.
Kutz asks McCain about accusations of nepotism she faces, being John McCain's daughter and all, and McCain responds by pointing out that people love to suggest that she's an MSNBC contributor because she's a Senator's daughter and not because of her talent. McCain scoffs at this, saying that all famous offspring get flack; she's sure Sofia Coppola gets hassled for being Francis Ford Coppola's daughter (which is an interesting choice of comparison, because Sofia Coppola has made some pretty unpopular films that have cost an awful lot of money). McCain says while she initially got opportunities because of her father, she feels that she's proven herself and can stand on her own talent now. To review: Meghan McCain has been working as a commentator and journalist for years and is still routinely asked if she feels like she's famous because of her dad. The continued asking of that question shows that she certainly has not proven herself.
Meghan McCain seems like a fine person, a loving daughter, and probably a fun person to hang out with. But we need to stop lauding her transparent efforts to mislead people into thinking that today's Republican party is a sane place for young women. Her aim isn't to change the sad state of conservatives, it's to market a fantasy moderate GOP that no longer exists. And it's time we stopped congratulating her for having an opinion that isn't terrible and wake up and smell the bullshit.