Meghan McCain as Paris Hilton
John McCain was a loser in the last presidential election. His daughter Meghan was a winner. Meghan McCain shot to stardom during the presidential campaign, starting a blog and campaigning hard for her father. After the election, she used her newfound fame to get a writing job at the website The Daily Beast, where she has used her platform to promote her vision for a renewal of the Republican party.
Meghan is the “reformer” camp, and thinks that the Republican party needs to fundamentally change its message in order to appeal to younger voters. Inevitably, some prominent conservatives have disapproved, and her writings have become the subject of a great deal of debate.
Before analyzing Meghan’s ideas, it’s worth noting that she is not a good writer. She’s not a bad writer—her stuff is readable—but she’s certainly not up to columnist par. Her usage is suspect sometimes, and so is her vocabulary. And her points are sometimes a little confusing, like criticizing Karl Rove for following her on Twitter, or for touting Aaron Schock as a potential party leader on the strength of his rock hard abs.
As for McCain’s ideas, they seem to be inspired mostly by embarrassment at being apparently the only Republican at Columbia University. All her ideas are based around the idea that the Republican party would prosper if only its ideas were a bit more attractive to young people.
Hence McCain’s support for gay marriage, global warming, and stem cell research, and her constant reassurances that she is totally cool and hip and stuff. Her speech to the Log Cabin Republicans, during which she reminded her audience that she likes black, punk rock, and gays is both revealing and pathetic, like she’s a high school freshman trying to get in with the cool kids by exhibiting the same interests. (And was her best example of a gay friend really her hairdresser? I’m surprised she didn’t drag an interior designer and struggling poet out there to complete the gay stereotype trifecta).
Unfortunately, she’s almost certainly doomed to fail, because the Republican party, quite simply, is not built to be cool. People think that the Republican party is the party of older people, and they think that because it’s true.
Young people have never been enthusiastic about the Republican party, and there is no reason to expect that to change. Churchill was right—anyone who is twenty and not a liberal has no heart; anyone forty and not a conservative has no brains. You can’t take that axiom too seriously (unless I am truly heartless, because I’m nineteen and not a liberal), but it does sum up how most young people feel about politics.
I’m a young conservative too. I suppose I’m a minority among my peers, though I go to a relatively conservative college, and my father is not a Republican senator, so my experiences have been nothing like what Meghan’s must have been. Still, I recognize that conservatism isn’t considered cool, and am content to accept that fact instead of pathetically reminding people of my body art and how much I love punk rock.
Meghan McCain disagrees, apparently, but doesn’t propose any solutions. She thinks she knows what’s wrong with the GOP (opposition to gay marriage, Ann Coulter, uncoolness), but can’t present her vision of what the party should look like, outside of more gays and more sixpack abs.
I feel slightly guilty criticizing Meghan McCain, since she obviously means well, and diverse points of view are always desirable. (But then, Meghan is attractive and rich, so I think she can handle the criticism). But her profile is so high, and her points both so lame and so undeservedly regarded, that I think some analysis is useful.
McCain has become the Paris Hilton of conservative bloggers—she is known because of her last name, got famous because of something mildly outrageous though predicable (attacking Ann Coulter isn’t quite as shocking as a sex tape, but still), and hasn’t really done anything useful since. Unlike Hilton, Meghan has a useful life ahead of her, but is a bit of an embarrassment right now, and probably will be till she gets tired of blogging.