A profile of the would-be first daughter manages to be both ingratiating and condescending.
Remember when Meghan McCain was known only as the somewhat vapid, overbleached narrator of that disturbing McCain ranch barbecue video? Since then, various news outlets — including GQ, the Associated Press and “yours truly — have run profiles of John McCain’s ever-un-Chelsea-like daughter and her Web site, mccainblogette.com, where she chronicles such newsworthy information as how to use concealer as lip gloss base and the fact that her mother has the amazing skill of determining whether a beer is fresh “depending on the taste.”
The Washington Post is now the latest publication to write up the would-be first daughter in an article that manages to be both ingratiating and yet almost aggressive in its condescension. The reporter, Libby Copeland, seems to want McCain to come off as a bimbo. Copeland has no problem, for instance, leaving in all the extraneous “likes” and other bits of syntactic fat, which it is common journalistic practice to trim.
“The blog is trying to keep it real, and trying to show how it really is, and I look like crap!” McCain tells the Post. “Like, the last post I was a mess, and I was like, ‘Well, there’s pictures of me on the Internet looking like a mess.’ But I kind of like the purity of it.”
Yet at the same time, the profile reads in parts like P.R. copy direct from her father’s campaign. Copeland writes of McCain:
“She’s dedicated to revealing life behind the scenes, with a fizzy authenticity so infectious you almost forget what an ugly place the campaign trail can be. Politics seems fun!” Riiiight.
So this, like Charlotte Allen’s “stirring treatise” on “female mental deficiencies,” must be meant as ironic, right?
Really, the writer just seems confused about McCain, but instead of either taking her seriously or critiquing her flighty, flimsy campaign coverage, the piece wants it both ways. We’re left with a portrait of the fake-baked blogette as a self-involved ditz who gets her politics by reading “People on the campaign bus.” Yet we’re told these very qualities constitute McCain’s “strategic genius.” Similar logic has governed media portrayals of witless starlets like Paris Hilton and Jessica Simpson. Half-baked assertions that these women are merely “acting” like sexified dimwits allow these media outlets to justify pandering to the lowest common denominator with tired images of stereotypical bimbos.
Meanwhile, too many media commentators depict Hillary Clinton as some bloodthirsty Conradian beast just for playing politics like countless men have before her.
I’m left wondering why a woman acting like an idiot is a savvy genius, while a woman acting like a politician is destroying the democratic process.
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