Sunday, September 19, 2010

Messy Sloppy Politics

Book 48: Dirty Sexy Politics
Meghan McCain

I don't know precisely what I was expecting from Dirty Sexy Politics but what I got was a hot mess of rambling and meandering writing with a few insights about the Republican party and the inner workings of a presidential campaign thrown in.

Meghan McCain's memoir about her father's 2008 Presidential bid did expose the ugly underbelly of life on the campaign trail.  The insane hours, short tempers, and sexcapades of stressed out staffers are no real surprise. The lack of juicy tidbits in these areas was disappointing.  

I understand from some other reviews that there is a blatant lack of fact checking and editorial oversight in the book. To be honest, I didn't go so far as to try to directly refute anything because I don't care.  I didn't read the book as any form of Republican bashing.  I read it because only a handful of people ever get to experience what Meghan McCain did, as both a blogger and as the candidate's daughter.  I did feel that the writing was at times disjointed, and there did appear to be a lack of good editorial review. 

I was surprised to learn that even as the candidate's daughter, McCain did not have unfettered access to her parents while on the trail. I had always assumed that would be a non-issue. But with campaign leaders concerned about Meghan's blogging of day to day campaign life, as well as her image, they managed to relegate McCain to marginal status within the campaign. They even forced her to go so far as to see image consultants, to get rid of her "stripper hair" and wear the ubiquitous pants suit.

That being said, McCain has what I feel are some golden nuggets of wisdom for the Republican party, and politics in general. First, stop with the double standard for women in the political arena. Who the hell cares about our hair and clothes? Obviously people do, but we don't judge our male candidates the same way, so we shouldn't include it in the evaluation of our female candidates.

Second, McCain urges the party to become more inclusive: embrace technology; don't ignore the youth voting block; don't force all republicans into the same narrow social viewpoints; stop treating intellectualism as a four-letter word.  I think those are incredibly valid points, and I hope McCain uses her rebel tendencies to help further those causes within her party.

Overall, I don't find the book particularly well-written or deeply insightful, but it is a quick read and does provide an inside look at a world few of us will ever see firsthand. Meghan McCain is a smart woman. She graduated from Columbia. I like to think this book is more a reflection of her age than her ability.  

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