Meghan McCain, contributor to The Daily Beast and daughter of Sen. John McCain, was p’wned Friday by CNN political analyst and former Clinton White House intimate Paul Begala on "Real Time with Bill Maher." It was a short but somewhat embarrassing display of what ails the Republican Party even as it tries to retool itself more frantically than General Motors.
McCain, who's been increasingly visible as a kind of archetype of an MTV Republican, was rhetorically fencing with host Maher, Begala and BBC Washington anchor Katty Kay, discussing politics in the Obama era, how Obama’s done so far and other points that invited comparison of Obama and now former President George Bush.
McCain, while frankly admitting the Bush administration was a badly-flawed body of bureaucrats, came to Bush's defense. McCain offered the flat champagne of an argument that’s been mounted by the GOP leadership in recent months: “The Obama administration really has to stop completely blaming everything on its predecessor, completely."
When Maher asked McCain if this is what she truly believed President Obama is doing, McCain said "I do, to a degree."
Pissed, Begala said, "not to enough of a degree, I'm sorry … not nearly enough. President Reagan blamed President Carter for eight years —"
"You know," McCain said, "I wasn't born yet, so I don’t know."
Begala’s comeback was pitch-perfect. "I wasn't born during the French Revolution but I know about it."
McCain: “You clearly know everything, and I’m just the blonde sitting here."
Begala, his patience tried: “Bush did leave a heck of a mess for the president — “
McCain, in an obvious play for sympathy: “I’m the one Republican sitting at this table trying to defend it —“ Then, in a cheap play to the younger plain-spoken, potty-mouthed demographic: “I am getting shit like you cannot believe for going on this show. You cannot believe.”
Maher jumps in. “But tomorrow, you’ll have a whole new group of friends.”
McCain comes back with a weak let-us-break-bread-together line: “We have to start bridging the divide in this country, we do.”
It pretty much clearly went downhill from there (indeed, that’s when the Huffington Post video ends). You can watch it here.
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McCain clearly thought her best line — “I wasn't born yet, so I don’t know" — would trump Begala on the basis of a younger, bolder demographic being cooler than thou; instead she just came off looking shallow and insubstantial, the embodiment of Cicero’s famous observation: “He who knows only his own generation remains always a child.”
OMG1, posting a comment at The Huffington Post, was not impressed, and responded with a frankness that was refreshing, and a comparison of McCain to another public figure that’s a little bit frightening:
“Wow, I had never heard her speak before.... she should stop. I was shocked. If she is the GOP youth representative, the GOP is truly in trouble. She came across as simple minded and inarticulate. She was way out of her intellectual league on that panel. MTV maybe but she is not ready for serious debate and discussion. She reminded me a little of Sarah Palin.”
Image credits: McCain, Begala: Snapshots from "Real Time With Bill Maher" feed via The Huffington Post.