I've never been a particular admirer of Meghan McCain. Yes, within today's GOP she seems not insane -- but that's quite the low standard. And also she came on the scene well-before today. From the first, she struck me as a bit more even-handed and moderate than the core of the Republican Party, though significantly more conservative than her reputation, given. Given how far-right and unbending the core of the Republican Party is, seeming reasonable can be as much optical illusion as reality. Indeed, from the earliest days, she also didn't strike as great a thinker as she came across to many. I think the disconnect was that so many Republicans fell into the "dittohead" category, of repeating unquestioning what they heard from party leaders, and occasionally she'd instead add some independent thought. But having "some" independent thought does not make one a Great Thinker. It just means you beat the very-easy-to-beat curve.
It reminds me of a comment from playwright and lyricist Alan Jay Lerner who said that when fixing a problem for a show in trouble out of town, the risk is convincing yourself that you made it good, when all you may have really done is make it less bad. When hearing some of Meghhan McCain's reasonable thoughts, the risk is that you think she's good, when all she is is less bad.
But she's the daughter of a generally admired (though flawed) U.S. senator, she occasionally is thoughtful, and she's pert. So, she has a platform. And was given a spot on the panel of The View. (Though considering that the show's standard for political insight to be a co-host includes competing on a fake-reality game show, the bar isn't especially high.)
I compare her to another daughter of a political figure who ran for president -- two parents, in fact, one winning -- Chelsea Clinton. She has two Masters degrees from Oxford and Columbia, the latter in Public Health, and a PhD in international relations from Oxford, writing a 700-page dissertation. That alone doesn't make her Right and Special, but it certainly does suggest she hasn't relied on name recognition alone and has trained to be knowledgeable in a vast range of politics.
I don't watch the The View, but once in a while come across videos or articles about discussions. And they tend to confirm my opinion of Meghan McCain. She periodically says something even-handed (just today, she again solidified her "See! She's actually reasonable" bona fides by taking the strong and deeply-controversial position, contrary to the loons on the GOP far-right base, that she is okay with the Obamas dancing at a Beyoncé concert) and occasionally providing insight, but too often seems put off by liberal thought, petulant and bewildered by how life works.
(For instance, the other day after a discussion began about Bernie Sanders and Alexandria Ocasio-Cortez, she went on a rant about how she didn't want a country of socialism. Except the program is that a) neither of them are socialists. They're Social Democrats which is totally different, it's pushing social programs in a democratic foundation, and b) we actually have tons of "socialism" programs in the country already -- like Social Security, Medicare, food stamps, national funding for education, public housing, the Affordable Health Care Act, and much more.)
Last week, I saw some discussion of Ms. McCain that concerned her as seemingly having referred to Hillary Clinton in some way as "Crooked Hillary." I didn't know what what was being discussed, so I let it slide, because I figured it was some off-handed, silly but meaningless remark. Then I belatedly came across the video in question.
I find it reprehensible, and it discredits her fully.
To me, this has pushed Meghan McCain into the category of unacceptable as a thinking, thoughtful analyst. That she may occasionally say something thoughtful, like coming out in favor of former presidents dancing, is pointless. We're ALL supposed to say things that are thoughtful, and do it more than occasionally. But when one adds into their portfolio all the empty, bewildered things she also says...AND includes something as mindlessly egregious as this, taking on the demagoguery of a fascist leader, you've crossed the line. You've discredited yourself.
One can "hate" someone without them being "crooked." Without them needing to be locked up, which is the whole point behind the childish Trumpian nickname. I hated the politics of George W. Bush, but never once thought he was a criminal, nor someone who should be in prison. That Meghan McCain says she calls Hillary Clinton by the Trump name of "Crooked Hillary" (a despicable and damaging phrase to all political discourse) purely because "It really worked during the elections" is pathetic and shame on The View for having an empty, divisive analyst such as this.
I should add that this is the same Meghan McCain who only last month bemoaned the state of civility in America today. Showing that we can add "disingenuous" to the list of her qualities when trying to appear thoughtful.
By the way, I know a reasonable reaction can be how mortified her father would be by her words because John McCain has great and admirable class. But not only is this not about John McCain, neither should there be a false narrative created to define it. Yes, Sen. McCain does have class. But even he hasn't used it all the time. (Back in 1998, for one instance, he told this "joke" to high-end Republican donors -- "Do you know why Chelsea Clinton is so ugly? Because Janet Reno is her father." And while he did apologize at the time, he only apologized to Bill Clinton, not to Chelsea, Hillary or Janet Reno. He may have done so in later years, but I don't know, I couldn't find a record of that, though in fairness I didn't look so hard.) That said, the way I'd put it more properly is that my sense is John McCain will sometimes show bad judgement -- and sometimes horrible judgement, like selecting Sarah Palin to potentially be a heart-beat from the presidency -- but he wouldn't make such an intentionally fractious and hateful remark purely because "It really worked in during the elections."
But what John McCain would do or wouldn't, and how he'd feel about it all is moot. This is about Meghan McCain, and what she says and feels and believes.
Meghan McCain has passed her Use By date for me. She probably has it in her to make up for it -- she's not an "evil" or bad person, just a surface, plain, profoundly ordinary and often empty one -- but it's a long slog uphill, and I don't see her making that effort.
Robert J. Elisberg is a political commentator, screenwriter, novelist, tech writer and also some other things that I just tend to keep forgetting.
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