The Problem With Meghan McCain

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The View has been lauded as the most important political talk show on television, but it’s more relevant for what it represents than it is for the topics it covers.

Th ABC afternoon staple has, historically, had difficult time finding- and keeping- commentators to take a seat at the iconic table. We’ve seen devout Republicans clash with their co-hosts and eventually trot off into the sunset of Fox News. Hence is the story of both Elisabeth Hasselbeck and Jedediah Bila, the former holding court for ten years as the resident Republican before converting to full blown Trumpism after relocating to Fox and Friends.

However, none have been more polarizing that current co-host Meghan McCain who joined the show in 2017 after a long term turnovers that saw Candace Cameron Bure, Raven-Symone, Sarah Haines, Paula Faris and other depart the series after multiple, controversial blow-ups befoe the live cameras. Naturally, whenever you set a group of people down with vastly diverse perspectives there will inevitably fireworks. Who can forget the heated exchange between Hasselbeck and then moderator, Rosie O’Donnell which saw her ultimately exit the series when the work day ended, only to return seven years later, only after Hasselbeck left for her new Fox gig.

The addition of McCain was intriguing. Unlike her predecessors who left the show for a spot on Fox News, McCain, who had already been a commentator for Fox, left the news channel to pull up a chair on The View. She brought with her a legacy of political involvement, being the daughter of former Senator and presidential candidate, the late John McCain. This is a fact she would never let anyone within earshot forget.

Eventually, McCain leaned so hard on her Father’s legacy that she lost the respect of many viewers who expected her to hold her own rather than stand on her Father’s name with such unusual regularity and even scream at co-hosts “I am John McCain’s Daughter!” to which longtime host Joy Behar responded, “I am Gino Occhiuto’s daughter!”

Her entitlement and obnoxious daily reminders she leverages as a quick-pass for her bratty behavior has become both grating and shocking to even the most tolerant viewers who are losing patience. McCain has developed a notorious reputation for her shrill, caustic chiding of colleagues, guests and even the audience (!), raising her voice, refusing to allow anyone else to speak, routinely self aggrandizing and insufferably bragging that she knows everyone you know, but she’s best friends with them. Indeed, every time someone mentions a name, McCain chimes in with “We’re best friends,” then grins smugly.

McCain has molded herself into the girl everyone knew from high school that tries too hard to be impressive. She suffered from a tedious case of “Anything you can do I can do better.”

Also separating McCain from those who have come and gone- very few people dislike her for her political views- which she usually presents with an unusually sensible manner- they dislike her for her petulant tantrums and abrasive tone that she speaks to others with.

You see, If McCain were just there to discuss her conservative perspectives, she’d be quite a remarkable addition to the program. She isn’t a radical who has sold her soul to Trumpism, but a self proclaimed “ride-or-die” conservative who has demonstrated quite prolifically when not screaming that she has something valuable to add from her platform, she just gets in the way of herself, shuts others down, and most people hit the mute button or hit record to chide her later on social media.

And they do. Social media, for the most part, is a mire of hate expressed toward McCain, as well as an amalgamation of her antics captured on DVR’s around the country. YouTube is brimming with video’s featuring McCain at her worst and Twitter is, well, overrun with critics of McCain instead of fans.

Perhaps it is the cold stares she shoots her co-hosts as they are talking or praising herself for being friends with gay people, Jewish people and screeching like an overly excited teenager in the presence of drag queens. While often invoking the names of queer people she knows, it is clear to everyone she tokenizes non-white, non-straight folks like we’re toys in her doll house. Why is this a reasonable conclusion? McCain defends and promotes politicians who vote against the interests of minority communities.

Her husband, Ben Domenech, is the owner of the Alt-Right hate rag The Federalist which has published outrageous and inaccurate hate pieces which are rife with bigoted rhetoric aimed at the LGBT community and people of color. McCain does not understand that by virtue of her support for such a rancid man with extremist views, she does not get to call herself an ally to the people she loves to flaunt in the same way a white person who proclaims their inability to express racism because they have one black friend.

McCain is the poster girl for white privilege. She lacks self-awareness, remains ignorant to issues facing people who don’t look like her despite often deadpanning into the camera to say “I have a multiracial family!” Or, when it comes to discussing the issues of violence facing the Jewish community, “I’m best friends with Joe Lieberman!” Or gay rights, “My best friend is Clay Aiken!” Shouting the names of people you know is not the same as having a substantive discussion about the very real and consequentially urgent issues facing all of us who don’t enjoy the thornless social path McCain has enjoyed.

In that, McCain shows herself be be undeveloped, in spite of how she claims to have such a foothold on the plethora of topics that cross the table, except by proxy of others and even then she is, at best, ambivalent to their present political crisis. Her eagerness to claim insight without having any to speak of results in her exposing herself, daily, as inauthentic. Perhaps most surprising is how everyone lept to her defense when President Trump took aim at her deceased Father. She was offered unyielding support and an outpouring of love by those less self involved. While she berated the President for his heartless attacks on her family, she regularly implies that being a “Ride-or-Die Conservative” means she would vote for him, conjuring up the Trumpist “Them vs Us” vernacular popular among his base. “If you want to beat us you need better candidates!” As Trump has no competition and six states have canceled any primary to hand him the the win by default, it’s a safe assumption that McCain is more committed to her selfish world view than the quality of life of all these friends she’ll tell you she has.

In her latest bought of hysteria before a live studio audience, on September 20th, she was, in typical form, shouting across the table, interrupting her co-hosts which included guest co-host Ana Navarro. McCain has grown pretty aggressive with her words and while it is unusual for anyone to hold her directly accountable for her public fits, Navarro did.

“Don’t scream at me when I’m two feet away,” Navarro said to the table slapping McCain.

“I didn’t hear what you just said.” Like a child who has been scolded, McCain recoiled, brow furrowed and pretended she didn’t just get her hand smacked for acting like a shrieking child.

Navarro repeated herself.

They cut to a commercial and before the cameras went blank, we saw a woman in the audience clutching her pearls and McCain storming off the set.

The co-hosts typically coddle McCain and sit tight lipped as she controls the table and the conversation, shutting down any topic she dislikes. When they take a break due to her theatrics, the return is always uncomfortable as everyone tries to pretend nothing just happened. But, it did. It makes the rest of the show impossibly awkward and you can’t help but pity those that have to share a space with her after these regular outbursts. Navarro returning fire at the untouchable McCain was celebrated across social media. I don’t love to see people argue, but I profusely enjoyed someone finally holding her accountable for her behavior. She has, until now, been shielded from that.

Even in a world where we rubberneck public bust-up’s and rejoice in the drama of others, McCain fetches a very different public reaction. No one is sitting on the sidelines cheering or gigging as they gawk while she makes a spectacle of herself- they’re condemning her. Not because they’re liberals, but because everyone, regardless of political persuasion, is appalled by a grown woman behaving like she’s just left her gilded tower and having a challenge integrating into a society where others speak or think differently.

People have even started petitions to see McCain fired from The View believing she is bringing down the real estate value of a celebrated show.

I disagree.

The presence of McCain is necessary. She is symbolic of the casual indifference so many people have regarding anyone who lives on a lawn not as green as hers. Through McCain, we see the symptomatic, self righteous ideologies that have scarred and divided the nation. We also see the indignant demands to be heard and voices amplified made my privileged few who argue against our issues while we look on, silent, powerless. To see a woman like McCain vocally berate other women for their support of feminism and women’s rights is staggering and remains, whether many like it or not, the view of many.

As problematic as McCain is, as a young person holding such a lofty position on a reputable show, she is often gifted with opportunities to weave her way into mainstream and adorned with accolades she hasn’t earned. So many guests who sit down with the cast immediately tell her how great her father was, regardless of their party alignment, and she grins as if it’s a personal achievement she’s made claim to. Recently when she was challenged on a subject, she retaliated, not with an opinion, but to yell angrily “I just accepted the Sergei Magnitsky award for my Father in London!”

Maybe if did anything to merit her own praise, she wouldn’t have to make an entire living cashing in on her Fathers.

Maybe then the rest of us could respect her View instead of roll our eyes.

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