Thursday, March 12, 2009

Meghan McCain: On Message

You didn’t really expect Meghan McCain, daughter of Senator John “yes, I may have lost, but I’m still a cranky, idea-free asshole” McCain, to break news during Wednesday’s appearance on MSNBC with Rachel Maddow, did you?

OK, yes yes yes, she has “taken on” Ann Coulter, saying writing out loud in The Daily Beast all the things that, well, 89% of the sentient population already knows. But hey, props where props is due: it’s not like everyone is blogging about how noxious Coultergeist is, now, is it?

So, it wasn’t “breaking” news that we got in a head-scratchingly super-sized double segment, but there was some refreshing honesty—or, if not honesty, at least a sort of self-awareness. You think that I’m going to mention hearing a McCain admit to zero understanding of “economic things”—nah, too easy. Truly old news. But, check this out:

I really think we’re on the precipice of possibly becoming a party that’s irrelevant to young people. It’s truly possible in the next election unless the right politician, the right message, and it starts with message, which I think people are missing, too. . . .

Well, Meghan, they very well might be missing the right message—there was that November election, after all—but that your Republicans are missing that “it starts with message?” We beg to differ:

[House Minority leader John] Boehner reminded Republicans that they are no longer in the business of legislating and should focus almost solely on communicating their message with voters.

"We are in the communications business,” Boehner told the crowd during his opening remarks. “We can build a new Republican majority one issue at a time."

You see, SunTanMan gets it. Or, rather, he gets what you think he should get. So does your party Chair, Michael Steele, who seems to believe that all the Republicans need do to win over African American voters is use words like “bling” more often. So does every one of your best and “brightest” who have beaten a path to Rush Limbaugh’s door ass—because who better to lead your message quest than a guy who is all about maximizing ratings to boost ad revenue?

What John, Michael, you, and yours don’t get, however, is that it doesn’t start with the right message.

Take it from an old communications consultant, choosing a future for your country, choosing a way out of the mess we are in, is not like choosing between Coke or Pepsi. Not really. Elections might have some elements of marketing (OK, many elements), but governing—governing is different.

Governing first takes ideas. You start with the right ideas, Meghan. After you find those, after you let go of the failed ideologies that have cast you to the margins of electoral relevance, after you understand that America already tried it your way and no matter how you “message” that, America now knows that your way sucked, after you do that hard work, then you can craft a message to sell your brave new party.

But, don’t listen to me (really, I beg you, don’t listen to me)—I’m just a blogger. You, Meghan, you know all about this; you’re a, uh, um, well, you’re also a blogger. But, you’re a privileged, progeny-of-the-powerful blogger. . . who loves the Republican Party, who wants to save the Republican Party, who gets to post at TDB and go on Maddow because you are, without any particularly noteworthy ideas, without any other qualifications than being John McCain’s daughter, now a face of the Republican party. . . .

Hmmm, I guess, once again, McLuhan is right: the medium is the message.

(a version of this post previously appeared on Firedoglake)

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