Meghan McCain: She’s What’s For Dinner

Meghan McCain has a lot of conservative panties thoroughly bunched.  It’s not just that she’s the spawn of failed presidential candidate John McCain, or that she’s only been a Republican for a year.  It isn’t even her fairly mild attack on Ann Coulter.

The real reason conservatives have declared Meghan McCain public enemy du jour is that she’s a Republican with media visibility who dares to challenge conservative orthodoxy.  Her columns don’t rail against the “drive-by media” and she doesn’t pepper her appearances with accusations of RINOism and odes to Rush Limbaugh.  She embraces Republican principles, and rejects conservative demagoguery.  But perhaps her greatest affront is in having the gall to stray from lockstep adherence to partisan dogma on the issue of gay marriage.

Here’s an excerpt of Meghan’s current column, My Beef With Ann Coulter:

I am not suggesting that extreme conservatism wasn’t once popular, nor am I suggesting I should in any way be any kind of voice for the party. I have been a Republican for less than a year. Still, even after losing the election, I find myself more drawn to GOP ideals and wanting to fight for the party’s resurgence. And if figureheads like Ann Coulter are turning me off, then they are definitely turning off other members of my generation as well. She does appeal to the most extreme members of the Republican Party—but they are dying off, becoming less and less relevant to the party structure as a whole. I think most people my age are like me in that we all don’t believe in every single ideal of each party specifically. The GOP should be happy to have any young supporters whatsoever, even if they do digress some from traditional Republican thinking.

I’m often criticized for not being a “real” Republican, and I have been called a RINO—Republican In Name Only—in the past. Many say I am not “conservative enough,” which is something that I am proud of. It is no secret that I disagree with many of the old-school Republican ways of thinking. One of the biggest issues from which I seem to drift from the party base is in my support of gay marriage. I am often criticized for previously voting for John Kerry and my support of stem-cell research. For the record, I am also extremely pro-military and a big supporter of the surge and the Iraq war.

Peg Kaplan is the only blogger I follow who wrote something positive about Meghan’s column.  The rest of the blogospheric criticism is what you’d expect: Meghan is a tool with no credibility who should shut her trap because Conservatives don’t care what she thinks. There’s also the ever popular insult levied at right-leaning women that all she has going for her is her shapely backside.

Hey, come to think of it, this story sounds all too familiar: a bright, attractive Republican woman opens her mouth, only to have factions in her own Party clamoring for a chance to shut her up with as much snark and venom as they can muster.  Sarah Palin endured this treatment from the self-anointed conservative intellectual elite during campaign season, and Meghan McCain is getting it from conservative ideologues who didn’t bother to show up at the polls and then bitched when her dad lost the 2008 presidential election.

And really, what better way to bolster their conservative bona fides than by purging Meghan from the Republican Party.  Just imagine all the contented purrs and affectionate tongue baths they’ll get from their ideological bretheren when Meghan McCain’s RINO head is mounted right above the fireplace.

Of course, that will do nothing to undermine the chances of a permanent Democratic majority, but who cares about winning elections when you can win the conservative pissing contest?  Members of the Republican Party really can’t seem to help eating their own.

Meghan isn’t trying to offer sophisticated political analysis.  She’s a politician’s kid with a unique perspective on Republican politics and a bigger than average soapbox thanks to her father’s recent candidacy.  But that doesn’t make her views on the Republican Party any less instructive.

Michael Steele should be taking notes here: there are tons of liberty loving, fiscally conservative Meghan McCains out there, and most of them are registered Democrats because of what they’ve heard about the angry, hateful bigots in the GOP. It’s self-defeating for Republicans to ignore Meghan when her wing of the Party could be just as reliable at the polls as this nebulous “Republican base” we hear so much about.

The base can do their damnedest to oust Meghan from the Party, but she seems to have intuited what many GOP leaders refuse to acknowledge: undying fealty to conservatism is not a criterion for membership in the Republican Party.  Like many conservatives, Meghan believes in a strong military and thinks Bobby Jindal is a brilliant rising star in the GOP.  Why should anyone care if she feels the label “progressive Republican” gives her a little bit of hipster street cred or gasp, best describes her positions?

As for Meghan’s beef with Ann Coulter, she’s hardly the first faithful Republican to find Ann’s style too abrasive.  I never had much interest in Ann until I saw her on Red Eye. In a more relaxed setting, she has a good sense of humor and comes across as far more thoughtful and much less combative than I expected.

I respect Ann Coulter’s amazing talent for manipulating the media into airing just the right sound bytes to rile up her faithful fans and enrage her detractors.  She’s like Rush Limbaugh with an education.

But Meghan McCain doesn’t need to like or even respect Ann Coulter and Rush Limbaugh to be worthy of membership in the Republican Party.  Simply believing in Republican ideals is just fine.  And despite threats to the contrary, the chattering classes can’t actually lock her out of the Republican clubhouse or revoke her GOP decoder ring.

Meghan McCain and Ann Coulter are both welcome in my tent.  I probably wouldn’t seat them next to each other, but they’re both welcome.

Will Republicans Get An Inclusive RNC Chair?

At the height of Palinmania, liberal feminist author Rebecca Walker wrote a piece for The Huffington Post boldly calling for a bigger feminist tent. She criticized the “habitual distancing of women [like Sarah Palin] who don’t serve the progressive feminist agenda” and addressed “the necessity of finding commonality with women who don’t hold progressive views.”

You can imagine how well that went over with the “progressive” HuffPo crowd.

Many commenters dismissed Walker’s ideas. They reveled childishly in the opportunity to smear Palin with the usual chorus of “she’s not a real woman” and “she doesn’t get to call herself a feminist.” Also included, a generous sprinkling of “she’s a terrible mother,” “conservative women are tools of the patriarchy,” and the ever popular insult, “Bush in a skirt.”

I’m reminded of the venomous responses to Walker’s HuffPo post as I consider the current state of the RNC Chair race. Many of the 168 voting Committee members are clamoring for a uniformly conservative Party that brands social moderates, libertarians, and centrists as ideologically impure. Even those who pay lip service to Ronald Reagan’s notion of a big GOP tent seem comfortable marginalizing Republicans whose conservative bona fides don’t measure up to their questionable standards.

Minnesota GOP Chairman Saul Anuzis donned his RINO-huntin’ gear early in the race for national Chair and set his sights on Michael Steele, the former Lieutenant Governor of Maryland. James Richardson explains:

Shortly after launching his campaign for RNC Chairman in mid-November, Saul Anuzis, the beleaguered MIGOP Chairman, began circulating news of LGBT (read: moderate) support for former Maryland Lt. Governor Michael Steele to prominent social conservative committee members.

Steele’s past work with Christine Todd Whitman’s centrist Republican Leadership Council, his dissenters argue, disqualifies him to lead the Republican Party as the faithful opposition to President Obama’s social agenda and economic recovery plan.

Later, when the Log Cabin Republicans reached out to each of the RNC candidates, an Anuzis operative named Katie Packer responded on his behalf, calling him “a reasonable individual who does not seek to grow the party by dividing it.”

Right. So first Anuzis uses gay support as a not-so-subtle litmus test to indicate an opponent’s failings, and then his rep cozies up to the Log Cabin Republicans. But wait, there’s more:

After news of Team Anuzis’ correspondence broke, Saul quickly distanced himself from Packer and said he had approved no such outreach, nor did he seek Log Cabin’s endorsement. Still working to build inroads in the social conservative community, Saul simply couldn’t afford the perception that he was seeking to “grow the party” with the help of, gasp, gay and moderate Republicans.

I understand that many Americans, President Obama included, do not support full equality for gays and lesbians, but is it really required political posturing for an RNC Chair candidate to publicly distance himself from gay outreach? Is Anuzis worried his RNC buddies will think he picked up GRIDS cooties from contact with the gays?

Last November, Senator McCain won more of the gay vote than any other Republican presidential candidate has ever received – 1.3 million votes and 27% of the LGBT vote, according to exit polls. Let’s hope we can continue that trend with an RNC Chair who understands and believes in a big Republican tent, not one who makes nice to gay Republicans and moderates in private while publicly rejecting their support and excluding them from Party politics.

Time for the GOP to Disown Chip Saltsman

Hey, you know what Republicans need? More racially charged baggage weighing them down while the liberal establishment works feverishly to paint the GOP as a band of increasingly irrelevant dinosaurs clinging to their irrational hatred and bigotry with every ounce of their rapidly waning strength.

Enter Chip Saltsman.

Chip Saltsman is the former campaign manager for Mike Huckabee, and is currently in the running for national RNC Chair. I missed this story while diligently maintaining my holiday sugar high, but James Richardson was around to summarize why Saltsman is an utterly embarrassing drag on the GOP:

In an exercise of political suicide, Republican National Committee Chair hopeful Chip Saltsman distributed a controversial CD by conservative satirist Paul Shanklin to national committee members this month for Christmas.

First played on Rush Limbaugh’s popular, though often taboo, radio show, the 41-track CD, entitled “We Hate the USA,” featured the racially-charged song “Barack the Magic Negro.” After all, nothing says “Christmas” like racial insensitivity…

Defending the ill-conceived Christmas goodie bag as a good humored joke, Saltsman told The Hill: “Paul Shanklin is a long-time friend, and I think that RNC members have the good humor and good sense to recognize that his songs for the Rush Limbaugh show are light-hearted political parodies.”

HA HA, get it, “negro” is a funny word.

Much like his fellow candidate for RNC Chair Katon Dawson, Chip Saltsman assumes his history of social and political relationships with minorities absolves him of all past, present, and future charges of racism. He expects that calling the songs on the CD “light-hearted political parodies” will further insulate him from politically disruptive accusations. And when that failed, he actually tried to argue that the phrase “magic negro” was fair game for anyone (read: white conservatives) to toss about because the media let it slide when black liberal David Ehrenstein titled an article “Obama the ‘Magic Negro.'” Double standards, you know.

Chip Saltsman isn’t just feeding the liberal narrative of a racist GOP, he’s laying out an all-you-can-eat buffet spread. The liberal political machine lusts after this sort of fare with an obscene passion, and maladroits like Chip Saltsman treat the loudest voices on the left to exactly what they hunger for: more fuel for the myth that the GOP is the party of intolerance and bigotry.

At best, Chip Saltsman’s Christmas gift to the members of the RNC was racially insensitive, politically clumsy, and just all around ill-advised. Whatever his intentions, Saltsman’s appallingly immature decision to distribute the CD speaks far louder than his graceless defense of his blunder. He is a political strategist, not a radio blowhard who uses terms like “Negro” to shock his audience into listening for another hour.

Saltsman demonstrated an atrocious error in judgment and a profound failure to anticipate the consequences of his actions.  Fortunately this time, one of those consequences was the fizzling of his campaign for RNC chair.

Confessions of a Paid Astroturfer

A woman who says she’s a paid member of the Obama marketing team shared the campaign’s astroturfing strategy in an anonymous email to HillBuzz. I can’t vouch for the credibility of the emailer, but it certainly jibes with my observations of the leftroots strategy.

The internal campaign idea is to twist, distort, humiliate and finally dispirit you.

We pay people and organize people to go to all the online sites and “play the part of a clinton or mccain supporter who just switched our support for obama”

We do this to stifle your motivation and to destroy your confidence.

We did this the whole primary and it worked.

Sprinkle in mass vote confusion and it becomes bewildering. Most people lose patience and just give up on their support of a candidate and decide to just block out tv, news, websites, etc.

This surprisingly has had a huge suppressing movement and vote turnout issues.

Next, we infiltrate all the blogs and all the youtube videos and overwhelm the voting, the comments, etc. All to continue this appearance of overwhelming world support.

People makes posts to the effect that the world has “gone mad”

Thats the intention. To make you feel stressed and crazy and feel like the world is ending.

Wrangled by strategist David Axelrod, the Axelturfers also did their best to skew polls in favor of Obama. The tipster also told HillBuzz, “There is a huge staff of people working around the clock, watching every site, blogs, etc. We flood these sites. We have had a goal to overwhelm.”

If you have a political blog (or lurk or comment on one), then you’re already familiar with this artificial grassroots movement. The email confession is far from shocking, and in many ways just confirms what we already know. But how will the right use this information?

Many writers on the right side of the blogosphere have weighed the relationship between bloggers and the GOP, and have found it wanting at best. The rightroots movement, if it can be said to exist at all, is extremely disorganized and consequently, ineffective in contributing to the success of Republican campaigns.

Undoubtedly there will be a wealth of discussion in the coming months about how the right must respond to a well-developed leftroots operation. This discussion will focus on technological organization and how we can leapfrog past the left and beat them at their own game. Further attention will be paid to the development of alternative news sources that counter the bias of the mainstream media. But there are also some questions that need to be asked that will strike many as distasteful. Can we beat the left by always taking the high road? Are we willing to employ the sleazy tactics of the Obama campaign? Is it necessary (or desirable) to serve our candidates by playing dirty while they keep their boots clean?

I don’t know the answers yet, but I have my suspicions.

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