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Meghan McCain and Republican Rebranding

Here's what the Republicans need, some say, a young and beautiful female McCain. It may be true enough that a conservative majority coalition has to include young people who are for limited government, concerned with body image, pro-life, "pro-sex," and okay with gay marriage. Someone might even add that dad and daughter never really disagreed on any of these issues. But the fact remains that a lot is lost in the generational transition.
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Discussions - 37 Comments

This corresponds to the trend I've seen reported in a few places now--that conservative youth are increasingly pro-life but otherwise libertarian. It's never been clear to me that the staunch pro-life position is all that easily consistent with an equally staunch sexual libertinism since a necessary part of the former is the recognition of serious consequences and non-negligible responsibilties issueing from sexual activity. It's hard to be pro-life and simultaneously reduce sex to casual consent--the high stakes take all the levity out of promiscuity.

The young think technology (e.g., birth control) liberates them from the risks--thus you can be both pro-life and pro-promiscuity. In a very mechanical sense, they are correct. In turn, they can be very judgmental about those who do not "exercise responsibility" and use birth control. Thus they tend to be more turned off by the Catholic stand on BC than they are by the pro-life message--with which they have some natural sympathy.

I happened to be present one time when a teacher of kindergarten students was showing them how to read a newspaper. The subject of abortion turned out to be front page news that day. Without giving any indication of her own views on the subject, she patiently answered their queries about what it was. They were all--to a kid--repulsed by it, even though many of their parents were probably "pro-choice." One has to be taught or conditioned to think abortion is permissible.

But all Americans tend to think that they admire responsibility. Today, sexual responsibility has undergone a metamorphosis. It means preventing the messy consequences of unmarried sex and the "unaffordable" consequences of married sex. Young people today do not see a connection between being pro-life and traditional sexual morality. Nor do they necessarily value pregnancy and birth as an unqualified and positive good for society. The only unqualified good, in their minds, is gratifying sexual desire (responsibly, of course). I said this is true of most young people . . . but I'm afraid it's also true of a great many non-young people too. The oddest thing about all of this, to my mind, is how utterly un-sexy all this random sex is becoming. Isn't it more sexy to have sex with complete and blissful abandon? And isn't the only way to do that without bad consequences within the confines of a loving and beautiful marriage? No one tells young people about that. Those who want to persuade the young would do well to start emphasizing it.

This newspaper is itself trying to "rebrand" something that, as recently as three years ago, was widespread and referred to by the press as "South Park conservatism." Like so many other things, the sequel is not as good as its predecessor.

There is scant evidence that either McCain is for limited government.

Megan McCain is that figure beloved by the liberal media - the "Repubican" who faithfully repeats all the liberal cliches about what uptight prudes Republicans are.

The awkard fact that people on the right seem to be notably less uptight about sex than are Democrats is discreetly ignored.

Young people are more favorable to gay marriage and homosexuality in general for the simple reason that they have been exposed to a heaping helpng of pro-gay propaganda their entire lives.

Just what the working class blue collars joe's want: a trust fund privillaged youth telling them how they out to think. Even better, she is full of contradictions. How does one support environmentalism and limited government. But she's a looker, and that is enough right. I don't think south park conservatism has anything to do with being pro baby murder if you have ever watched any of the episodes that deal with abortion they choose unflatering terms like unplanned parenthood for the clinic name and showed some of the harsh realities of vaccuming out a fetus brain.

One has to be taught or conditioned to think abortion is permissible.

Or one just has to grow up. I suppose by this line of thinking one also has to be conditioned to think that the toilet is not a scary monster.

Nor do they necessarily value pregnancy and birth as an unqualified and positive good for society.

Because it can no longer be characterized as such! You are ignoring the impact of billions of people using the earth's resources. That is not slowing down. It is becoming harder and harder to justify pregnancy in an over-populated (or, arguably I suppose, soon-to-be overpopulated) world full of plenty already neglected and unwanted children to adopt.

The awkard fact that people on the right seem to be notably less uptight about sex than are Democrats is discreetly ignored.

I did not realize that party identification could give so much away about one's sexual uptight-ness.

And John M - you should collaborate with this anti-gay marriage awesomeness to combat the pro-gay agenda!

Or one just has to grow up.

Boy, that's some deep thinking from our resident infantile little twerp. Why don't we wait for you to grow up before we listen to your lofty pronouncements on what grown-ups think?

You are ignoring the impact of billions of people using the earth's resources.

Think of Mother Gaia! It's what the grownups who programmed the mattbot do!

I did not realize that party identification could give so much away about one's sexual uptight-ness.

The list of things which you do not realize would fill a ten petabyte server. But for you, sadly, the admission of ignorance is not the beginning of knowledge.

Never mind, you have your smug attitude, you don't need no stinkin' knowledge.

"One has to be taught or conditioned to think abortion is permissible."

Describe how a fighter jet (pick your favorite model if you're a military fetishist/hobbyist) can rain down terror on a civilian population and see how a kindergartener will react.

Describe waterboarding, or any of the acts shown in the photos from Abu Ghraib, and see how the tots react.

When kids start to figure out sex at all - you mean the boys touch the girls, the girls with all those COOTIES?? - they generally find that horrific, too.

Do young boys of conservatives go and play Jack Bauer now, and play out the ticking time bomb scenario with their buddies? That's cute. I think John Yoo just declared that pulling out up to FIVE (but no more) fingernails is reasonable and permissible. Have at it kids!

Scanlon is taking a respite from fantasizing about leather sex but moves on to some even less savory dreams.

Whoa, guys. Getting way off topic.

Mrs. Ponzi's argument was that kindergarten children are repulsed by abortion, therefore (implied) human beings have a natural aversion to abortion. It is an absolutely ridiculous argument, even if it did not involve children. Scanlon is right: Kindergarteners would be repulsed by a bowel resection. It was a worthless point, worthy of scorn.

It's what the grownups who programmed the mattbot do!

Grown-ups? Are you kidding? Captain Planet! Boy . . . I miss good 'ol fashioned liberal propaganda.

Five stars for the Captain Planet thing. I still remember the entire song, I think they even tried to do a time travel arch once where hitler was a polluter. What makes that argument bad ren? If you watched a fetus get its brains sucked out would you not be repulsed? The entire issue simply bybasses the point of the argument by implying that a fetus is not a person, something contradicted later on in law by murderers being charged for double homicide when they kill a pregnant woman. The entire planned parenthood thing was origionaly a staple of the eugenics movement, how it became a feminist style issue is by massive group think in my opinion.

I can picture a conservative politics that accommodates gay marriage, but only if it stays far away from Meghan McCain. She is smug, obnoxious and ignorant. The only issue on which she is articulate is gay marriage. The rest is just "look I'm so young and hip" posturing. I loved when she went on the Rachel Maddow show and said she knew nothing abour economic issues - a chip of the old block in all the bad ways. I'll be a little more impressed when she uses her appearances in places like THE VIEW to sell her pro-life position and not just to bash other Republicans. Actually her performance on THE VIEW was craven in the way that she left the hosts of the hook for their treatment of her father (compared to their treatment of Obama) while pretending to be the brave voice of Republican honestly. From what I've seen, McCain isn't the future of anything. She is more likely the Ann Stone of the new century.

The question immediately arises as to what might make Meghan McCain's opinion's interesting. There is no indication from summaries of what she has to say or from the capsule biographies of her around that she has devoted much time to the disciplined study of social relations or ethics or justice. At the age of 24, her actual experience of doing the important things in life (earning a living, paying your debts, maintaining a marriage, and child-rearing) are likely to be limited. It is doubtful she has any special insight into what animates youth in their civic aspect; the social segment from which she hails is demographically small. If she were a machinist's daughter from Louisville, you could at least say her circle of acquaintances was middling on a number of axes, if not exactly a random sample. So what gives?

Kindergartners are smarter than even Brutus implies. You don't have to show them or describe to them the disgusting and horrifying process by which a fetus is "eliminated" for them to be repulsed by the concept of abortion. They simply understand--perhaps because they are closer to the reality of it--that they were once "just fetuses" too. And they know, as all people who don't lie to themselves know, that "fetus" is just another word for small baby. Ever notice that women who want to be pregnant never say, "I am with fetus" . . . it is always a child or a baby to them. Is it their wanting it that makes it a baby? And otherwise it is just a fetus? That's some power we've granted to women (and in many cases, girls). I'm surprised that men haven't yet asked for some power that is comparable . . . just to be fair. What should they be able to will into being or out of it?

16: Yes. The comment in 11 by "Ren" is nasty and ridiculous. Young kids' gut reactions to abortion are sounder than those of their ideologized "pro-choice" elders.

And they know, as all people who don't lie to themselves know, that "fetus" is just another word for small baby.

Yes, small potential child still importantly biologically attached to the body of its potential mother. I imagine these kindergarteners are not interested in the ability of women to control their own reproductive process. That probably has too many big words. But I have been down this road before here on NLT . . . It goes nowhere.

Until all people know that all living innocents have a right to their lives, this argument will, yes, go nowhere. Any child who knows where babies come from knows also that he was in the womb, and therefore even more vulnerable then than he is now. He has compassion on that other vulnerable person. It is some adults who rationalize, justify and sophisticate for themselves a right to do away with the lives of inconvenient and vulnerable others. I can imagine God's grace on the unborn, but not on those who presume to make His choice in the matter of life and death for another. But that is His realm, not mine.

Megan McCain might have been written by Ayn Rand. I rather hope she goes nowhere.

Matt someone has to asks why you repeatedly travel down a road to nowhere. Others might me more likely appreciate your marevelous displays of erudition. And Kate, you're right (as usual)--she is, at best a Rand wannabe.

Please introduce me to these kindergarteners. I need their opinions on erythropoetic protoporphyria. Also their unreflective intuitions on laparoscopic sterilization. The only thing worse than question-begging arguments and comments riddled with onto-theological presuppositions is projecting those onto children. One might just as well use a ouija board. Lawler's discomfort with the young McCain only points out the great difficulty anyone has with even suggesting the expansion of the conservative base.

Matt someone has to asks why you repeatedly travel down a road to nowhere.

YOU are not the first. I have repeatedly answered "entertainment". YOU guys are interesting, regardless of how ridiculous some of the comments on here are (and I hope I'm not being too vain when I include my own ridiculous comments in that statement). It's the summer and I'm tired from playing too much tennis.

#16: Julie, I'm still waiting for a ruling declaring men not financially responsible for the children they sire seeing as how they have no say whatsoever in (as you put it) deciding whether it's a fetus to be aborted or a child to be raised. Does anyone else find the logic screwy as far as a woman's right and a man's finacial obligation is concerned? I am greatly opposed to abortion, but do those who support it think a woman should get to decide to have the child then make the father (who may not have wanted it) pay tens or hundreds of thousands of dollars in child support over his lifetime? What about the opposite situation? The position seems untenable to me.

Regarding the Meghan McCain piece: first, I need to find out where she parties. Second, I am infuriated by "Republicans" such as Miss McCain and Margaret Hoover (a regular guest on the O'Reilly Factor) who get on their high horses and tell the overwhelming majority of the GOP that they are right and the rest of us are wrong. That said, I do agree with her that Republicans need a makeover - I am disgusted nearly every time one of the party's leaders gets on the tube and speaks inarticulately about opposing Obama, which, when done the wrong way (their way), just makes us look like a bunch of petty whiners. It's not that they are making bad points, it's that they have to excercise more political gumption than I suspect they possess when opposing a president whose interests are being protected by nearly every cultural institution in the country. When are Republicans going to realize that we've entered a brave new world of uber-democracy? We always accuse the Democrats of living in a pre-9/11 world (which is true), but we forgot the lessons of Reagan and have reverted back to a pre-Nixon/Kennedy Debate world. It's unfortunate, but suck it up and adapt if you want to win elections and fix things.

Finally, Captain Planet was an excellent piece of liberal propaganda. Did anyone else think the "Heart" ring was worthless and dumb? The best story-arch was when the vilians got together and made a machine that creates an evil version of whatever you put inside it. They stole the Planeteers' rings, and instead of Earth, Fire, Wind, Water, and Heart the evil rings their machine created were Radiation, Deforestation, Smog, Toxics, and Hate. Then they used their evil rings to create Captain Pollution. It was cool at the time, but looking back it was pretty darn heavy-handed.

#13: Brutus, good comments. Missed the Hitler episode, I'm afraid. I don't know if it's true about Planned Parenthood starting off as a eugenics piece, but it wouldn't surprise me. That is part and parcel of the Liberal/Progressive belief that man is infinitely malliable and, therefore, it is entirely possible to create a "Heaven on Earth" once enough people have been educated properly. Thus, when you're pushing towards the ultimate happiness of the entire human race, it's OK crack a few eggs in order to make the omlette (a la Soviet gulags, ChiCom re-education centers, Khmer Rouge work camps, etc). The first step, of course, it to deal with God (thank you Nietzsche), Who, it turns out, provides a foundation for eternal principles which don't change, and creates the biggest obstacle to those who believe change is a moral imperative in our progress to perfection. Understandably, eugenics lost its en vogue status as a result of its practice by certain high-profile Progressives in the early-mid-twentieth century.

Andrew makes an excellent and logical point in the first paragraph above. If the question of life is to be decided entirely by women, then logic demands that women ought to be entirely responsible for the financial obligations of their children. It goes without saying that I think men should pay for the children they sire (and their rights as fathers deserve more protection when they do pay) . . . but then I don't believe that either party should be able to make an unqualified decision to terminate the life of a child--however small.

Meghan McCain is a twit. But I understand the impulse that moves her and I think that her twitdom ought not to obscure her basic point. Conservatives have utterly failed when it comes to persuading the younger generation. That is just a fact. But this younger generation is no more wise than any other grouping of 20-somethings from years past. It is useful to listen to what they think of you in order to discover where your argument is failing with them and use that as a starting point for thinking about how better to reach them . . . but it is not useful to look to them for the truth about life and politics. Leave that to the flatterers on the other side and, when the young grow up, the smarter among them will grow weary of the patronizing. The only question is whether enough is being done to help them get smarter.

Julie's last sentence is the real question.

JULIE, {a name I always liked...} said "it is useful to listen to what they think of you in order to disccover where your argument is [wanting]." But are they "thinking." When asked about these types of topics, often what one hears from them is an "I feel this" or an "I feel that." Feelings aren't really something one can have a discussion or "argument" with. What good is a point, counter-point with someone who hasn't really "thought" at all on the subject. Especially when we live in a society where feelings are to be validated, and nothing more.

I'm not sure that the younger demographic is open to persuasion on much of anything, at least for the present. They couldn't see through Obama, and they purchased into a Bob The Builder campaign slogan that should have been considered an insult to the intelligence of anyone with, or in pursuit of a degree.

We have to be patient with them for a while. Almost half the revenues, almost HALF of the revenues spent today derive from federal borrowing. When the full and dire impact of that becomes known, and what is more, FELT, then that will be the time to begin a conversation.

For the time being, we just have to try to make some inroads on the edges, which though apparently marginal, nonetheless is not lacking in import.

And towards that end, I gave away my signed copy of Hayward's THE AGE OF REAGAN to a teenager just yesterday. He's the son of a friend, and I heard he was interested in politics.

That is the sure thing about the young, they do grow up. As they experience the consequences of today's politics, anything might happen to the way they see the world. God knows, they may even become realistic. Or not, considering some of our interlocutors here.

After growing up in America's public school system, being routinely, if not systematically indoctrinated, not just by modern education, but also by the entertainment industry, they might take awhile for the young to learn to think for themselves. However, doesn't the whole world conspire to make us wiser, experience being the great teacher?

If that is wrong, not real, it is a good dream.

I think that a big part of the problem is that Republican strategy over at least the last ten years or so has been more about mobilizing people who have already bought into the conservative narrative than converting people who have not. This tended to emphasize appeals that the people who had bought into the narrative understood (lower taxes, strong defense. no judicial activism), while not doing enough to explain the ideas behind those appeals to those who were not already on the team. That was okay when there was a latent conservative majority that had been brought together in the early 80s, but time, demographics and events have eroded that majority. In one sense the young are not really all that different. They lack the experience of liberal failure and conservative triumph in the American context, and conservative messages have revolved around winning over people who have that late 70s - early 80s frame of reference. Are conservatives doing that much worse among temporal immigrants (the young) than with other kinds of immigrants?

And has anyone else seen the ROBOT CHICKEN parody of CAPTAIN PLANET?

Well done, Pete--especially this: "That was okay when there was a latent conservative majority that had been brought together in the early 80s, but time, demographics and events have eroded that majority."

As to what accounts for that erosion, I don't think it is possible to over-state the damage that is done to good sense and instincts in our public (and even in most private) schools. Conservatives have done little more than whine about this with each other for decades. Republicans qua Republicans have done almost nothing about it. Most people with conservative instincts, if they are not academics or activists, seem largely unaware of the extent of this problem or tend to blow it off as less important than the question of tax increases. But if you want to be very discouraged about the prospects among the young, pick up a copy of just about any "social studies" textbook. For a good laugh I will--someday when I can sneak it away--post for your amusement what is said in one paragraph (because that's all he got) about Ronald Reagan in my daughter's California history text. Cesar Chavez, of course and by contrast, got several pages of unmitigated and unquestioning praise. The only hope I have about the teaching of American history in our schools these days (apart from efforts like those of the Ashbrook Center) is that by now it appears that they have so stripped the subject of any morsel of wonder or interest, that most kids just find it deadly boring and ignore it. Kids probably don't know enough to know that they're getting lopsided propaganda . . . but they do seem to sense that much of the material they're getting is beneath contempt.

In comment #3 Julie Ponzi elevates the feelings and intuitions of kindergarteners to be authoritative indicators in abortion debates. But in comment #25 she says it is not useful to look to the youth for the truth about life and politics. I conclude the following. Mrs. Ponzi is projecting her own feelings on to kindergarteners; and one does not look to Mrs. Ponzi for the truth about life and politics.

Forget the kids then...what do you think about abortion. Not the legality or the ends, but just the pure act of killing a fetus? At best I assume you would see this as a sort of means to an end. Curious though, what exactly are those ends. Should a women be forced to carry the child of someone who raped her? I say no, but saying that she needs abortion to control her reproductive proscess is curious to me in an age of multiple birth control methods and the very old notion of not having sex if you are not prepared for the consequences.

There are many interesting studdies about Eugenics changing its name after the it was embarassed by the Halocaust(not widely read or praised but interseing). Planned Parenthood was one of the places it reapeared. I really don't think that we take enough time to explore Eugenics and its influence when we teach American History. It gets limited to immigration quotas mostly. Mabye it is the old Howard Zinn sanitizing of history that keeps all the forced sterlization out of the discussion(not that I am a big fan of his but I think his point fits this argument.) It actually goes beyond what you implied in comment 24. In one way it is about heaven on earth, but its also the belief( Which I don't know really rather there is validity to or not) that the earth can't support the current population. The Gulags look like a means to an end, but their are in end in themselves. There are a lot of high level studdies about reducing the population to under 500 million. From there it gets more sketchy and most don't like hearing the word conspiracy theory but there is the Georgia guidstones ect that peak the intrests of the paranoid and x files fan allike.

Too bad Julie didn't sit in on this (what sounds to be a pretty strange) kindergarten class today, with torture and photos of perfectly acceptable things that we did to prisoners that should be forever hidden from view. I bet the kids would just instinctively know that torture is wrong only when others do it, but if the manly, macho hero from "24" - Dick Cheney or some other combat-avoiding tough guy - does it, that's cool. Kids know the darnedest things!

Did anyone else think the "Heart" ring was worthless and dumb?

South America - shafted again.

Craig, I agree with you on the torture; can you answer on the abortion? The way you responded ( I don't mean you any personal offense) is exactly why we will never get any real change. Two groups of well meaning people have been so galvanized against one another that all they can do is hurl the others hypocracy at one another. If the image is two lesser primates hurling feces, then I think you are picturing it correct. Neither side will ever win this argument(general right vs. left) btw, it exists as a simple divide and conquer mechanism to keep people from wondering about the bigger picture. better way of saying it

I really do not remember the opposite Captain Planet team of polluters. I think I should check that out, notice in the intro though how the guy is from North America the only one from a country and not a UN region is the USSR. If only the high tech police state had been a reality then. Captain planet could have caught litterbugs using survailance cameras and facial recognition software. Back to reality though, this goes over the top when it comes to scary moves by the oppressive government. Too much Bling? Give us a Ring Follow this link...its worth it.

Brutus, as ren pointed out, Julie's argument, where the children are the most accurate arbiters of right and wrong on any given issue, was ludicrous. I don't know if hypocrisy (which Julie doesn't think is a problem, as I've pointed out many times before) was really the issue. I wasn't attempting to jump-start an abortion argument. I'm sure kids wouldn't take well to any photos or videos of abortion. Nor would a group of kindergarteners like to take a tour of a slaughterhouse.

What do I think about abortion? It's a sad thing. I don't really buy your premise of the "pure act of killing a fetus" as that makes the act akin to just finding a fetus/baby on a park bench somewhere. When the actual act is done, there is a pregnant woman involved who is saying "I can't continue with this." So, there's what I think. I'm sure that helped us to arrive at a satisfying resolution of the public policy debate on the issue! Last thought on it - sometimes, if one considers the context, even what SHOULD be a wonderfully joyous thing - childbirth - can be accompanied with a certain sadness, too.

I would hope though, that even someone who is fervently pro-life would see the incredible weakness of her argument about the kindergarteners (Question: Could these kids even spell and pronounce words like "abortion" and "extortion" and such? I remember kindergarten as the alphabet and letter sounds and such, not learning how to read a newspaper.)

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