Turns out that a McCain did emerge from the 2008 election victorious — not the captivity-surviving, straight-talking, Palin-picking Republican senator from Arizona but his Bud Light-drinking, talk-show-appearing, insouciantly Twittering 24-year-old daughter.
“My cab driver is totally vibing me out,” Meghan McCain Twittered to her online devotees Thursday evening. “Just asked me if my cheekbones are real? Wtf, u can have fake cheekbones???”
Yep, that’s the one.
While John McCain has gone back to being the senior senator from Arizona, Meghan — Columbia grad, former "Saturday Night Live" and Newsweek intern — has crashed the Republican Party like a slightly tipsy debutante.
Cable news shows want her. More than18,000 people follow her on Twitter. And now, as The New York Observer reported Thursday, McCain has lined up a six-figure book deal with Hyperion.
While swearing she has no interest in public office, McCain says she hopes to usher in a new era of modernity and moderation for the GOP.
“All I am trying to be is a young, cool Republican woman for other Republican women,” McCain said in an interview with POLITICO.
In this, her fans say she’s filled a niche.
“Finding young, female Republicans willing to speak out these days is not easy,” says former McCain strategist Mark McKinnon. “Expressing opinions publicly and holding yourself out for the blizzard of abuse one inevitably gets from the blogosphere can be pretty intimidating. But Meghan is fearless.”
McCain recently signed a one-year contract to continue writing for Tina Brown’s online publication,
The Daily Beast. Her first few pieces garnered much attention, beginning with a January Q & A with her mother, Cindy, about the experience of the presidential race. It wasn’t exactly Frost/Nixon, but it produced just enough tidbits — a shot at The New York Times, the regret of the inauguration dress — to drive some buzz.
“For the rest of my life, people are going to want to learn what happened to me on the campaign,” McCain told POLITICO. “I love talking about it. I hope my articles will stay time relevant. I think I am doing a good job with that.”
In the last month, she’s appeared on Larry King, Rachel Maddow and Roland Martin. In her latest sit-down with King, on March 24, McCain made headlines by confirming her “support” for President Barack Obama.
During the course of that same interview, she also talked about the possibility that the president was verging on overexposure in his attempt to sell the economic stimulus package.
Although it may not be immediately apparent to the outside observer, McCain has been sensitive to the preciousness of her own brand and has tried to limit her own exposure in recent weeks.
The one thing McCain won’t talk about is the one thing people most want her to talk about: Sarah Palin.
Last September, during an interview with Larry King, McCain called Palin “really chill” and “very smart” and complimented the governor for her pop cultural savoir-faire.
“She doesn't act entitled,” McCain told King, “which, unfortunately, sometimes you get with some politicians. She's just like your average girl, like, just a mom. But she's very, very shrewd, very smart. I've heard her talking about issues.”
But McCain is mum about Palin now; a Daily Beast spokesman went so far as to warn POLITICO — repeatedly — against asking McCain about the Alaska governor.
Asked about her reluctance to talk about her father’s former running mate, McCain said: “I feel at this point, I don’t feel censored at all. Not discussing Palin is a personal preference.”
She scoffs at those who want to hear her views anyway: “It is like what it is with the kid who can’t eat cookies. It becomes the thing they want to eat.”
Wonkette Associate Editor Jim Newell, who has followed and written about McCain’s post-campaign work, has another idea about it. McCain doesn’t seem “divested from her father’s interest,” he says. “She won’t write about things that will cause her father problems with the Republican base.”
During the campaign, McCain seemed to have no problem entering dangerous political turf. In an interview with GQ last March, she openly mocked the prospect of Mike Huckabee sharing a ticket with her father and bashed former Massachusetts Gov. Mitt Romney for failing to “keep it real.”
But now, unencumbered by an election, her pot stirring seems a bit more cautious.
Last month, when the Beltway was in hot debate over Rush Limbaugh’s role in the Republican Party, McCain dodged the debate by exhuming the question of Ann Coulter’s place in the party.
“Ann Coulter is a tired subject now,” says Newell. “Criticizing Rush Limbaugh is kind of a third rail. Going after Sarah Palin is kind of a third rail, at least with Republican base. There is kind of an unwillingness to go off and be herself. It makes it very easy for people like us to poke fun at.”
But others see her as courageously off the cuff.
“I think part of what makes Meghan interesting is that she actually isn’t scripted at all,” says McKinnon. “You never get the sense that she’s writing Republican talking points or that her work is blessed by the RNC.”
McCain linked up with the Daily Beast through Nicole Wallace, a Republican strategist who served as adviser to McCain's presidential campaign.
Wallace and McKinnon are now both contributing writers to the site.
“I think she has an important point of view,” Daily Beast Executive Editor Edward Felsenthal says of McCain. “I think she’s become a liaison on social issues, young women, young Republican women, and so it’s great when her voice on those issues gets heard.”
McCain’s next Daily Beast missive is slated to drop early next week, timed to her keynote speech to the Log Cabin Republicans’ annual convention in Washington.