No, the title of this book isn’t what attracted me to it. Rather, it was seeing Meghan interviewed three times on the Imus in the Morning talk show. As Imus observed more than once, Meghan is bright, interesting, and personable. That same person comes through in this book. It’s been a long time since I have read a book so easily readable.
The title of this book has virtually nothing to do with the book; rather it was merely a slick artifice designed to buy some attention and sell some books. Apparently the title was derived from a Barry Goldwater quote – “Sex and politics are a lot alike. You don’t have to be good at them to enjoy them.”
The book chronicles Meghan’s time spent with her dad’s 2008 presidential campaign, which Meghan joined right after graduating from Coumbia in NYC. The book starts with Meghan worrying that her dad was going to pick Mitt Romney for his running mate. She had been rooting for the selection of family friend Joe Lieberman and was worried about how her free-spirited personality and liberal use of the f-bomb would mesh with the straight-laced Mormon family. She quickly learned, however, that meshing with the Mormons would have been easy compared to dealing with the prima donna Palin.
Although Meghan comes across as frank and critical, she isn’t catty. She is struck by Palin’s beauty and charisma, and likes how Palin stands up to bad-guy Steve Schmidt, the Nazi-like campaign manager. But Meghan also admits being a bit resentful that Palin attracts so much publicity and seems to have her own agenda.
Regarding Meghan’s role in the campaign, she acknowledges that there was a conflict between (a) the way she was raised (to be independent and to speak her mind freely) and (b) the proper way to conduct herself during a campaign (to be a wallflower). If she had been more mature at the time, she might have been able to recognize and deal with this conflict instead of continually fighting to be herself. But being herself caused the campaign managers eventually to decide that she was more trouble than she was worth, and they reassigned her from the main campaign to a secondary campaign that traveled by bus to low-visibility events.
In addition to attending the low-visibility events, Meghan published a campaign blog with the help of two assistants – a photographer and a videographer. Eventually, it received more than 10,000 hits a day. Although that number sounds astronomical to me, she says that it is dwarfed by other popular political blogs.
Reading this book is like spending some time with a refreshing person. But is also gives an interesting perspective on the 2008 presidential campaign. Don’t expect to read anything complicated (Reaganesque) about her relationship with her parents. She obviously thinks they walk on water. Her loyalty to her dad is such that she has never forgiven George W. Bush for the dirty tactics that earned him a primary victory over her dad in the 2000 South Carolina primary. And this loyalty seems to have caused her to be mildly negative about Mitt Romney and Mike Huckabee, as well as Laura and Jena Bush.
I detected one significant inconsistency in Meghan’s stated philosophy. She started the book by saying that she joined the campaign when it was broke, and they took her on board only if she paid her own way – “To bankroll myself and the blog, I used the money that my grandfather had left me, even if, by the end, I had spent every dime. It was a better education than graduate school and more worthwhile to me than opening a boutique.” Then she ended the book by noting – “I had been raised to speak my mind freely and be independent. If there was one thing that my dad wanted for me – and all of his kids – it was to be strong, think for ourselves, and support ourselves. We were never supposed to rely on government or family money or a trust fund to take care of us. We were supposed to work, make a life for ourselves, and find a way to make things better around us.” This is one case where consistency is the hobgoblin of small minds.
Meghan concludes by taking the Republican Party to task for abandoning the conservative principles of Barry Goldwater and Ronald Reagan. She thinks the party should expand its tent by welcoming social liberals like her. I agree.