I am not attacking Meghan McCain as an individual but lately she has been sinking into the floor and hanging out in the sunken place. Her shrill tantrum this week about how many American flags she has in her house and how she feels about NFL players anthem-kneeling was just the most recent proof that Meghan is bugging out.
Usually as conservative women go, she’s one I could talk to without wanting to bite a bloody hole in my tongue. And she, along with Nicole Wallace of MSNBC, represents something to be cautiously optimistic about as we start to imagine what a post-Trump America looks like. Both of these ladies have called bullshit on Trump and his acolytes many times before and have found homes in mainstream media where they have held on to their own brand of conservatism while demonstrating comfort in the company of people who think differently than they do. (Imagine that.) That is the reason why Meghan’s unprovoked take-down of Kelly on live television two days after the Houston area school shooting was so disappointing and damaging.
The context of Meghan’s comments are straightforward: She took exception to Kelly’s tearful plea for “a moment of action instead of a moment of silence” during her opening monologue for the Bill Board Music Awards. Meghan harshly criticized Kelly for not offering a specific plan of action or explaining in greater detail exactly what she meant. Meghan’s daddy is of course Senator John McCain, who happens to be in the final stages of a fight against brain cancer. Anybody who has watched someone they love go through this process knows it is highly stressful. It is not crazy to imagine that Meghan might be hyper-sensitive to criticism of legislative impotence in Washington on this crucial issue since her father has been one of the biggest stars over there since 1982. Like it or not, if they haven’t accomplished anything on gun violence and domestic terrorism, John, like the rest of his cohorts in D.C. has to own some of that accountability.
The context of Kelly’s comments are also straight forward: Kelly was born and raised in Texas. Fort Worth to be exact. Her home state has been particularly hard hit by the violence of domestic terrorism in the last year. We have seen a horrific church massacre near San Antonio, a spate of mail-bombing attacks on innocent people in their Austin area homes and the latest a blood-bath taking place on Friday morning at a suburban Houston high school just days before graduation. It is upsetting to any human being with a rational mind and a beating heart but if these devastating events happened in places that you know and love and you happen to be a young mother with two young children it might hit you especially hard. And if you happen to have earned a big stage and a huge microphone, you might decide that another empty “moment of silence” just doesn’t cut it for you.
I am going to cut to the chase: Kelly was 100% right and Meghan was 100% wrong. Meghan’s suggestion that an upset and concerned citizen has to have a well mapped and vetted plan to express their frustration with the inaction of our elected leaders is some of the worst kind of bullshit that you hear in political discourse. That standard would snuff out pretty much all public debate and leaders would never be held accountable. The simple reason is that elected officials are responsible for formulating plans and taking actions to solve our public problems or to meet our public objectives. When they don’t do it, they need to be called out for it. The standard for raising your voice and calling out ineptitude is not that you know exactly what to do yourself and can instruct them on the solution. Kelly Clarkson is a singer and from what I understand she’s a damned good one. She hasn’t been elected to solve these problems. Men like Meghan’s father, Senator John McCain were and she knows that very well.
So Meghan’s challenge was as wrong-headed as it was wrong-hearted. Kelly has a right to be upset as we all do. Her personal status as a gun-owner – which was eagerly pointed out by Meghan – doesn’t have a damned thing to do with it. In fact it even adds credibility to Kelly’s point because she is obviously not attacking the almighty 2nd Amendment that she avails herself of. Conducting a debate over gun control this way is why we never get anywhere. It is time to call out those who are blocking progress with bullshit like this. Just because this young woman sings does not make her needs as a citizen any less valuable than someone who talks politics all day.
To be fair, I understand why the ladies of The View effectively let Meghan slide with her tirade – only mildly pushing back before moving on to other news. Senator McCain has had some ugly things said about him by people in the Trump White House since he entered his last stage. His daughter has a public platform of her own so all of that garbage has probably been building up. Even still, the rest of us need to take note: people who reflexively get defensive over politics when others are mourning the senseless deaths of innocent people are unreliable sources of sober perspective. Something else is going on that is compromising their capacity for rational discourse. Meghan McCain has been cool for the most part since she came on the scene a decade or so ago so she shouldn’t be permanently stained by this. But she was as wrong as she could possibly be on this issue and the record needs to reflect it.