Meghan McCain shows readers the darker side of politics

By Kate MacDonald

Courtesy Joe Knapp, via Flickr
Meghan McCain, daughter of 2008 Republican presidential nominee John McCain, gives her fans a behind-the-scenes look at campaigning in her new tell-all “Dirty Sexy Politics.” The book, dedicated to her parents, tells the often untold story of what she has dubbed “a daughter-of.”

Fresh out of Columbia University, McCain joined her parents on the campaign trail as a blogger, writing for the website McCain Bloggette. As a result, she is able to talk about the campaign in a rare, intimate manner, stressing her personal prerogative to tell things like they are.
She does admit, though, that the book “tells the story of my own struggle to get my act together.”

The nice thing about “Dirty Sexy Politics” is that McCain is not trying to force her father’s beliefs down reader’s throats. She is the first to say that hardcore conservative Republicanism might not be the best thing right now. Though she mentions her personal beliefs from time to time, she stresses that she is more of a moderate Republican, liberal, even, when it comes to social issues.

Many times in the memoir, McCain expresses the hope that the Republican Party will take things in a new direction, in order to attract younger voters. She doesn’t bash Barack Obama or his politics, though she did take her father’s loss hard. The book only sparingly has political musings.

Instead, she gives readers an in-depth view on landmark events during John McCain’s bid for president. “Dirty Sexy Politics” gives an interesting insight on his choice of Sarah Palin as a running mate. She was shocked and confused, and came to view Palin as inspiring, though she realized quickly that Palin seemed to be in it to make a name for herself.

Meghan McCain shares her views on the whole Palin family, the media storm that surrounded the clan and her private thoughts on Bristol Palin’s teen pregnancy scandal.

McCain comes off as very honest, and writes of events that would probably embarrass her parents. She quickly admits that she has gotten tattoos, swears like a sailor and, more than anything, is not about to change for anyone, something that comes off in her headstrong manner of writing.

The author conveys that she is just like any other 20-something, not just the stereotypical “daughter-of” who smiles and stays silent for the cameras. From her near-arrest for stealing Mitt Romney signs to her accidental almost-overdose of Xanax on Election Day, she keeps the readers laughing along with her.

It is due to these incidents, plus a few botched interviews and a disastrous lunch with the Bushes that lead John McCain’s advisors to dub her a troublemaker and banish her to a decrepit bus. So Meghan McCain had to figure out how to make the best of her less than perfect surroundings and promote her father while having a good time touring the nation with her best friends.

McCain comes off as very youthful throughout much of her book- fitting, as she is only 25–years-old. “Dirty Sexy Politics” is not a boring analysis on politics, as many political memoirs are. McCain’s book is simply an account of a young woman’s flying emotions during a stressful campaign.

“Dirty Sexy Politics” exposes the inside world of political campaigning from dilapidated hotels, to the sexcapades of staffers, to the required image consultants, McCain presents a unique view on a lot of matters that readers would not have been privy to.

That being said, though “Dirty Sexy Politics” is a pretty good read, it would have been nice if the book was a little longer. At fewer than 200 pages, McCain’s account comes off as more of an unorganized jumble of short stories, as opposed to a memoir, at times.

Whether you’ve got an interest in the Republican Party, or simply want to know more about things not advertised about the campaign process, this book is for you. Or, if you’ve got no interest in politics, it’s at the very least an interesting story of an opinionated girl thrust into the limelight while trying to retain her personality.

Though she has no political aspirations, Meghan McCain has accomplished something many politicians have failed at – she wrote a memoir that’s not boring or forced – one that will probably interest some young voters.

“Dirty Sexy Politics” shows many aspects of the political system that many people know nothing about – how it affects regular people. While it can drag at times, those times are overshadowed by the surprising and witty events that make the book a surprising hit.

One aspect of “Dirty Sexy Politics” is predictable, however, regardless of fans’ political beliefs. As Meghan McCain dictates from the introduction, “As for plot twists, the whole world knows how this books ends already. My dad loses.”

Kate MacDonald can be reached at [email protected]