Until now, Meghan McCain has been mostly an eccentric, blogging, heavily made-up and occasionally embarrassing footnote to the story of John McCain, or maybe I just haven't been paying enough attention to her. But listening to her on Anderson Cooper last night, a vision of a different kind of female candidate presented itself.
First, Meghan McCain is a Republican with a credible, progressive, centrist stance on social issues. She is pro legalization of marijuana, pro gay marriage and pro woman, all topics that resonate with younger voters and, naturally, women. Watch the clip below where she tells Anderson that her party's statements on rape lost them the female vote. She says, "Republicans need to take a hard look at what we are doing and what kind of message we are putting out.... Because the people that are telling me right now that we should have Rick Santorum and an extreme conservative running next time, What are you talking about and what are you smoking? Because we keep losing and I don't want to keep losing because I love this party."
Second, Meghan McCain is pro-life. That strikes me as a powerful and potentially unifying combination. I am a hard-line Democratic voter on social and class issues, but in many other ways I do not love the Democratic party. Every now and then I try to imagine what it would take to get me to do the impossible and vote Republican. And it could be done by a candidate who I felt made sense on social issues, even if the candidate was pro-life. I am strongly pro-choice, but I also am willing to consider how to find a better middle-ground with people who are pro-life. And a candidate respectful of pro-life values who was also pro-sex, pro-gay and for sex-education could get me to listen. Especially if the candidate was a woman.
And third, Megan McCain has some of the likeable, straight-talking qualities of her father. She's found an interesting, unapologetic way to have a personal life in public. And she's never let anyone shut her up, which is a remarkable and powerful quality coming from a very young woman. Here's another clip of her talking to Anderson, in this one, sympathizing with the Romney kids whose dad just lost the Presidency and refusing to endorse the old "It isn't personal" cliche. It's refreshing to hear a woman be not ashamed of taking things personally.
For me to get really behind her as a candidate, I'd like to see her stop blogging, stop commenting for MSNBC and get 20 years real experience in business and finance. She's 28 now, so she'd be 48 in 2032, which would be a great age to run for President.
I'm also not alone in suddenly noticing her. Comments on her blog seem to be centrist, largely female and enthusiastic. One woman writes: "I am a liberal lesbian who loves President Obama! However the MORE that Megan McCain opens her mouth the MORE I LOVE what comes out!! I truly believe that she could be THE FIRST political figure to UNITE the American people! I hope that Megan will continue on her path, stay true to who she is and hold steadfast to her beliefs since they are compassionate, honest and noble! Go Megan! President in 2020??!! Much respect! Namaste."