Thursday, March 19, 2009

Weighty matters and the circular firing squad

Since there's not a whole heck of a lot to write about today, I thought I'd share with you a rather amusing political melodrama that's been unraveling over the past week or so. And what better than a genuine Republican cat fight?

These days, it's not much fun being a conservative Republican. Lots of backbiting. Tons of denial. And nonstop pouting. Sucks to be them.

And with all this negativity abound, it was a given that all hell would break loose as everything was reduced to inane childish name-calling. Hey, with these people, it usually does. Enter Laura Ingraham.

Ingraham is your typical right-wing radio blowhard. Syndicated show. Lots of punditry gigs on FOX News. Likes to dabble in nasty rhetoric and low-level insults. And her latest target is a fellow Republican, the daughter of her party's most recent presidential nominee - Meghan McCain, daughter of Sen. John McCain. All shooters, please form a circle now.

During the crazy election season last year, Meghan McCain stepped into the limelight to do all she could to help her old man in his uphill quest to become president. Hey, that's cool. I'm sure any one of us would do the same for our dads. She also started blogging about life on the campaign trail, in an effort to appeal to her own twenty-something demographic (a serious weak spot for Republicans). She was also a regular on the talk show circuit as she stumped for dear old dad.

Truth be told, it's quite difficult, even for those on the left, to dislike Meghan McCain. How could you? While it is certainly tempting to loathe her based on who her father is, she seemed to transcend that. She added an aura of warmth to the often cold and shallow persona of the McCain/Palin ticket. Her demeanor contrasted that of her father, who came across as an out-of-touch grouch, and her mother, icy (and even blonde) enough to be cast as the female lead in an Alfred Hitchcock flick. Meghan, on the other hand, comes across as friendly and genuine, as if she didn't really ask for all the hoopla orbiting her old man last year but made the most of it. Just a typical 24 year-old. And unlike the taverage gloomy wingnut, she has an air of positive enthusiasm about her. She never did get nasty and start flinging mud like many of her old man's paid underlings. Perhaps the party ran the wrong McCain.

With the election season over, and her defeated pop back in the Senate, she has turned her blogging thing into a full-time occupation, working for hot website The Daily Beast. Sure, many of her columns are a bit fluffy, such as complaining about how the campaign juggernaut put a damper on her love life. But more notably, she has continued in her quest to paint a big smiley face on the otherwise dour GOP, appealing to her peers with the bright side of Republicanism, and some ideas to work through the current malaise surrounding the movement. Though she doesn't take the low road and fire snide cheap shots toward the people she disagrees with, she has occasionally taken the lunatic fringe of the conservative movement to task. She is repelled by the nastier nature of pundits like Ann Coulter, whom she recently referred to as the "poster woman for the most extreme side of the Republican Party."

"If figureheads like Ann Coulter are turning me off, then they are definitely turning off other members of my generation as well," she wrote.

Pretty constructive criticism there. No nasty insults. No low blows. A very fair take, I'd say. To her credit, Coulter took it all in stride. The same, unfortunately, couldn't be said for Ingraham, who was not mentioned by McCain. In fact, until Ingraham went on the offensive, McCain had never even heard of her.

On her radio show, Ingraham played back parts of an interview that McCain did with MSNBC's Rachel Maddow, in which McCain said, "I think there's an extreme in both parties and I hate extreme. I don't understand. I have friends that are the most radically conservative and radically liberal people possibly ever and we all get along. We can find a middle ground."

So, did Ingraham respond by countering McCain's remarks in a substantive manner? Of course not, silly. Instead, Ingraham mocked McCain, using a faux Valley-girl voice:

"Ok, I was really hoping that I was going to get that role in the 'Real World', but then I realized that, well, they don't like plus-sized models. They only like the women who look a certain way. And on this 50th anniversary of Barbie, I really have something to say."

So, just as before, what we get is not spirited debate or substantial reasoning. Instead, we get fat teeny-bopper jokes. Delivered by a woman who should know better.

Perhaps this is how people like Ingraham view the outside world from a rather, dare I say, elitist perch. If you're not Hollywood-type thin (i.e. a skeleton with a loose skin wrapper), then your just some low-life porker. What kind of message does this send to the women that may actually be listening to her radio show?

McCain shot back. On her blog, she wrote, "I expected substantive criticism from conservative pundits for my views, particularly my recent criticism of Ann Coulter. That is the nature of political discourse, and my intent was to generate discussion about the current problems facing the Republican Party. Unfortunately, even though Ingraham is more than 20 years older than I and has been a political pundit for longer, almost, than I have been alive, she responded in a form that was embarrassing to herself and to any woman listening to her radio program who was not a size 0."

On her Twitter page, she gave some words of encouragement to her peers. "To all my girls out there. Don't let anyone make you feel bad about your body! I love my curves and you should love yours too."

And on ABC's "The View," McCain all but told Ingraham to 'kiss my fat ass.' All Ingraham could muster in response was to call her "a useful idiot," whatever that means. We can all safely say that, in this case, McCain won.

What makes all this even more ridiculous is that Meghan McCain is not what most people would consider fat. Admittedly being a size 8 (up to 10 during the crazy campaign season), she's what many of us normal rank-and-file consider to be average.

And it's pretty sad that people like Ingraham think all women who possess curvier figures than her are obese. Especially considering that there are undoubtedly many, many women who would normally agree with her that would love to be down to a size 8.

What's telling, though, is that rather than take McCain to task and challenge her on substance, Ingraham, using her shock-and-awe conservojock radio schtick, had to take the low road. Sadly, I'm not even sure why I'm surprised.

I'm certain many hardcore conservative Republicans dislike Meghan McCain because, although her writing isn't necessarily 'weighty' in itself, she, like RNC chairman Michael Steele, has recently come forward to condemn the nasty rhetoric that has circulated in place of constructive ideas, especially at a time when they're needed most. And people like Ingraham just proved that point.

Without making this all sound like I'm writing an essay on a Sir Mix-A-Lot song, let me just it say again. Meghan McCain is not fat. Actually, she looks pretty damn good. Hey, I'd take her over the typical stick-figure Hollywood waif any day. I'm probably not alone. Using the entertainment industry as an example, I would think that more men would consider, say, recent Oscar-winning actress Kate Winslet (very far from fat but given much grief by the media over the years in regard to her curvier-than-her-peers figure) sexier than the numerous weight-obsessed celebrity skeletons we often see splashed across publications displayed in the supermarket checkout lanes. The types of women who feel they must be P.O.W.-type thin in order to be considered attractive. And if they're taking that message to an extreme, letting it affect their self-confidence, what about their fans? This is what leads to things like anorexia, bulimia and substance abuse.

In the end, it's not what one's shell looks like, it's how one carries it around. If Meghan McCain is happy with her figure (and damn right she should be), then that great. More power to her. Paraphrasing an old Rod Stewart song, she wears it well.


Brian de Ford said...

So she's pissed that Laura called her on her weight. But she called Coulter on being a screechy cunt (my paraphrase). Pot, kettle, fucktard.

Jill said...

Amen, brother. But having to defend Meghan McCain is sort of like the cow who went to law school having to defend Ruth's Chris Steak House as a first case.

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