Dirty Sexy Politics: A True Story

Dirty Sexy Politics - Meghan McCain I don’t like Meghan McCain. Even though she has shown herself to be a more moderate figure in the Republican party (which really says something about the left-right divide in American politics these days), I find her to be an extremely unnecessary addition to the pundit and commentary scene of US politics, one with no insightful opinions, no real knowledge of that which she speaks of, a bad habit for false equivalency and the most cringe-worthy of columnists on the Daily Beast. Her hypocrisy, in calling herself a moderate Republican yet refusing to call out Donald Trump on his racist birther rubbish as well as completely bypassing her own father, Senator John McCain’s rank hypocrisy and bigotry when discussing him, leaves me rolling my eyes in annoyance. It’s no secret that she’s achieved everything in her life so far based on her family’s name, wealth and good connections, and her debut book “Dirty Sexy Politics” perfectly encapsulates everything that is bad about Meghan McCain. I’m a liberal but I don’t think there are many people of any political standing that won’t come away from this book with the impression that they have read anything other than the self-obsessed, vacuous and incredibly annoying ramblings of a nepotistic little brat. One almost feels sorry for the publishing house that reportedly paid a six figure deal for this extremely short but no-less headache inducing excuse for a book. From the introduction to this book, I knew it was going to be a tough read. McCain’s prose is often clunky, trying to balance colloquial cool with a weighty style more suitable for the subject of politics. She uses an incredibly clunky reference to the red-blue pill scene from “The Matrix” to describe her dreams for the future of political discourse: “Here’s my dream: The political party that identifies with the color red should start taking pills of the same color.” (p6.) Nimbly stepping over the fact that the latter part of the sentence would be classified as an order rather than a dream, there’s no real explanation given for this dream of hers beyond the blue pill being that of the taker choosing the dream world over reality. Does this mean she thinks the Republican party should stop living in the dream world, or that the Democrats should continue to do so? Her ambitions for the GOP are never really developed after this either. There’s a lot of talk about anti-big government and pro-freedom, which is all well and good (and not explicitly Republican) but what does it mean beyond buzzwords and placard slogans? We’re never told. McCain is infamous for having no real opinions on issues beyond supporting gay rights and admits to knowing nothing about economic policy, except that she supports the Republicans. Surely it would be more beneficial for the author of a political book to know a little about politics? This question is given further fuel by McCain’s admission that she might not be telling the entire truth throughout this book: “I checked dates and facts, and corroborated my accounts with friends and family, but my stories are decidedly impressionistic rather than reportorial.” (p5.) I’ll give her credit for being honest but this doesn’t bode well for the rest of the book and we’re barely in double figures. There’s nothing dirty about this book (beyond McCain’s shoe-horning in of oh-so shocking mentions of naughty campaign shenanigans she never indulged in), nothing sexy and barely anything political. McCain never goes into deep discussion of the intricacies and complexities of being part of a massive presidential campaign, both as a staffer and as a family member. In fact, she barely shows any interest in politics despite this desperate attempt to advertise herself as the face of moderate Republicanism. She fails at that, of course, but she does become particularly adept at bemoaning how tough it is to be a rebel in the GOP, with her edgy bleached hair and tattoos. The only thing she shows any real interest in is Meghan McCain. Like a teenage fan-fiction writer, McCain dedicates an inordinate amount of page time to describing what she was wearing during the campaign (all the more amazing considering her earlier admission over her ‘impressionistic’ recollection of events) and all the girly gossip revolving around hair-care, make-up and all the associated topics that are unfairly associated with smart, capable and brilliant women in politics who aren’t Meghan McCain. I swear, if you take all this fashion info-dumping out of this 192 page book, it would be about a third shorter. Her attitude isn’t any less superficial either; she throws a tantrum and sobs like a child when her mother refuses to tell her who her father’s running mate is, despite McCain admitting later on that she tells her secrets to everyone so she was clearly not a trustworthy person to give such information to. She does nothing to counter-act the image the campaign staffers have of her as an indignant, privileged brat. This wouldn’t be so bad if McCain came out of it in the end and admitted what a horrible person she’d been, but she never really does. She admits to being naive and learning a lot but it’s hard to believe this book is supposed to be the wise, learned opinions of a 25 year old. She fails to understand just how important and complicated a political campaign is as she spends page after page scolding staffers for not giving her access to certain areas and revelling in how she deliberately tried to make their lives harder. Keep in mind that this is the daughter of a presidential candidate, a man who needs to be surrounded by security at all times for fear that his life may be on the line, and all McCain is worried about is taking some pictures for her blog. She scolds the media for deliberately portraying her as an idiot before bragging about her extremely expensive education. To say Meghan McCain comes across as an unpleasant individual in this book would be an understatement. The Obama-McCain 2008 campaign was a fascinating moment in politics, not just because of the people involved. The trials, tribulations and utter chaos of both camps are well documented, as is the varied reporting and commentary on events from the left and right. This was the first real political event that sparked my geeky love of politics and I have fond memories of browsing the internet for updates on the candidates and comparing and contrasting how different news outlets would cover the same story. I credit that presidential campaign with giving me a lot of my ambitions and drive to make a difference in the world. However, if you were to take “Dirty Sexy Politics” as your only source of reporting on the campaigns, you’d come out of it with no information, no insightful facts or opinions, no real behind-the-scenes gossip on the McCain camp (be honest, that’s why most people bought this book) and you’d probably think that women in politics had just taken a monumental leap backwards. I may have less than positive things to say about Sarah Palin but even I can acknowledge how big a deal it was to have her on the Republican ticket. Of course, all Meghan cares about is how she looks and what she wears. We have no insight into these people at all. She briefly talks about the focus put on women’s appearances and clothing choices, something that male politicians don’t have to worry about, but it’s hard to take her seriously when she’s so obsessed with Ugg boots and what fabric she’s going to wear. Her bemusement over being fired from her own father’s campaign is a sweet sort of justice. One of the reasons this book is so awful is because it reeks of privilege. Meghan McCain comes from a very wealthy and advantageous background. Her father’s a senator and her mother a businesswoman with an estimated net worth of $100million, she went to Columbia University and has had everything handed to her on a silver platter. Yet despite all this, or possibly because of all this, she acts like a spoilt brat who thinks the world revolves around her and everything bad that happens is just put there to annoy her. One day, there will be a new dictionary where, under the definition of ‘nepotism’, McCain’s picture will be. Not once does she acknowledge just how lucky she is, and how little she deserves to be put in a position of trust and privilege on this incredibly important campaign. McCain is riding her family’s coattails all the way to the top. It’s such a shame she couldn’t quickly learn how to use proper punctuation on the way. I haven’t seen grammar this bad in a published book in a long time. There are so many commas and dashes carelessly thrown into sentences where there shouldn’t be any that I began to wonder if this thing even had an editor. Maybe the publishers were as embarrassed reading it was I was and wanted to rush it into publication before people forgot who she was. If I have anything positive to say about this book it’s that we at least get a rather sweet insight to McCain’s relationship with her parents, especially her mother. Cindy McCain was frequently portrayed as a very cold woman during the election so it was different and refreshing to get a glimpse of her behind the scenes. These moments in the book are also mildly enjoyable because it’s the only time Meghan doesn’t spend obsessing over herself. Otherwise, this book was pretty much a waste of time. It takes true skill, or lack thereof, to make one of the most exciting times in recent political memory boring but Meghan McCain does it exceedingly well. Chock full of bad writing, painfully awkward pop-culture references, obsessive fashion talk, narcissistic nepotism and completely void of any political relevance or insights, “Dirty Sexy Politics” has the honour of being the worst political book I’ve ever read. It feels like an insult to even call it a political book. A true piece of political writing on the 2008 campaign would know that McCain got just under 60million votes, not 48million as McCain claims. When your reader can go onto Google and find out within 10 seconds how many votes the candidates got in the election, why can’t she? It’s a sad state of affairs when Meghan McCain is the face of moderate Republicanism in the American political system, although her actions speak louder of her hypocrisy than my review ever could. McCain ends the book with a call to arms for young Republicans to join her. “Don’t make me pick up this torch alone” is the line she closes her book with. For the sake of politics at large, I hope somebody does pick up that torch because if McCain is the future of politics, we may wish to stay in the present. 1/5.