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HBO: Meghan McCain is not Generation Y’s Best Voice… Yet…

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Posted on July 13 2009 2:35 am
David Swindle is the Managing Editor of NewsReal Blog and the Associate Editor of FrontPage Magazine. Follow him on Twitter here

This should be the last weekend of reruns for HBO’s Real Time with Bill Maher. The network promises a new episode for July 17 at 10 pm.

Yesterday, though, they ran a repeat of episode 158 in which Maher’s panel included CNN talking head and Democrat operative Paul Begala, Time columnist Joel Stein, BBC correspondent Katty Kay, and finally Republican blogger Meghan McCain (daughter of Senator John McCain.)

The highlight of the show, no doubt a delight to the left wing of the blogosophere where it appeared at such popular sites as left-liberal media hub Huffington Post and Crooks and Liars, was when Begala challenged McCain on her assertion that the Obama administration has been blaming its predecessors for all its problems.

Begala countered by claiming that Ronald Reagan had routinely invoked Jimmy Carter. Historically unequipped to answer Begala’s retort with any number of challenges to Carter’s record, McCain interrupted him and said, “You know I wasn’t born yet so I don’t know.”

It was like trying to stop a freight train by lying in front of the tracks.

She practically set Begala up, who got the zing of the night in: “I wasn’t born during the French Revolution but I know about it!”

Then Maher, in a rare moment of compassion, actually stood up and put his arms in front of McCain before saying, “He’s a mean man that Paul Begala! I’ll protect you.” Was it really compassion, though, now that I watch the video again? Or was he just adding to her humiliation? Perhaps it was an act of kindness, a signal to his fellow leftist street fighter to lay off the novice a bit.

What came next from McCain was even more wince-inducing: “You clearly know everything,” she said to Begala. “And I’m just the blonde sitting here.”

Begala certainly doesn’t know everything — apart from how to defend his patrons, Bill and Hillary Clinton, no matter what they do — but unfortunately he knows a lot more than Cindy McCain does. And that’s ultimately my big problem with McCain’s recent rise to media stardom. She doesn’t have the knowledge or intellectual vigor to stand.

McCain was born October 23, 1984 — just under 7 months after me. And she graduated from Columbia in 2007 — about 9 months after I graduated from Ball State. So I have a bit of an interest in seeing other Generation Y politicos and bloggers like McCain get some media attention and make a contribution to the American dialogue.

Unfortunately McCain really is not the best of what Generation Y has to offer. As is obvious from the Real Time encounter with Begala, McCain doesn’t really have the political chops to make it as a pundit. Her degree from Columbia was in art history, not political science, history, or journalism. She even confessed to MSNBC host Rachel Maddow, “I didn’t even take econ in college. I don’t completely understand it so I’d hate to make a comment one way or the other. That’s – truly of all the things – I keep reading and I just don’t understand it.” Uh oh…

What she does understand, though, is how to endear herself to the media. She had internships at Newsweek and Saturday Night Live and had to have known that taking a shot at Ann Coulter in a column for the Daily Beast would get her some fans. And just read that column. And another. And another, and something else emerges: McCain’s not the best writer in the world either. At least not yet.

Her big issues — gay rights and a gay-friendly GOP — are also ones to endear her to the media, Maddow especially. (And at least here’s an issue with which I can stand by her side.)

It’s going to be very interesting to see what we Generation Y’s do with the Conservative political tradition. McCain’s more libertarian approach, Big Tent attitude, and gay-friendly style would certainly fit with a generation of “South Park” conservatives. Whether she’s actually going to participate in this project in any meaningful way is very much in doubt. The work she has to do to get plugged in to the world of political ideas, most of us did in college. Just because she’s John McCain’s daughter and has been around this stuff all her life doesn’t mean political understanding is in her genes.

If McCain wants to sit at Maher’s table and talk politics, she might want to go back to school or get with her dad who might be able to connect her with some notable Republican thinkers (I could recommend one in particular who’s also a Columbia alum) who could get her a bit more intellectually developed so she might be able to actually take on the Begalas of the world without having to resort to “OMG! I’m just a blonde! Play nice!” Otherwise she’s just going to embarrass herself and the party she’s trying to support.

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