Thursday, July 02, 2009

An Open Letter to Meghan McCain

Dear Ms. McCain,

This is written in response to your latest post on The Daily Beast, entitled "Forgive Mark Sanford".

Allow me to speak frankly. Do understand that you are probably the only self-identified Republican I currently take seriously. In an era where your party is increasingly defined by the Evangelical Christian far-right, I find Progressive Republicans like you a refreshing alternative to the status quo. It is a comforting thought for unapologetic liberal Democrats like yours truly that the phrase "Progressive Republican" might not need be an oxymoron. Indeed, you make many interesting observations, some of which I even agree with, but at times you also come across like the slightly naive child of privilege that you are. In columns like the one posted above, one recognizes your ample potential while also noting your youth and inexperience.

If you wish to be taken seriously, (and I firmly believe that you do) then I recommend you take the time to make sure that the examples you cite in your column line up and directly reinforce your points.

For example, in the column referenced above you write,

France—home of my absolute favorite foreign first lady, Carla Bruni—perfected the laissez-faire attitude toward the sex lives of its public leaders. Not here. We hold our politicians to impossible standards. We elect them, put our hopes and dreams for a brighter future on that one person, and then expect sainthood. Republicans—and Democrats—should forgive these private sins and move on. Life happens. People—especially politicians—make mistakes.

Carla Bruni has been known to make some very controversial statements herself---statements that if they been uttered by the American First Lady would cause a scandal. In particular, Bruni has stated in times past that "I am monogamous from time to time, but I prefer polygamy and polyandry". Additionally, she has noted that she quickly grows "bored with monogamy" and that "love lasts a long time, but burning desire — two to three weeks". Not only that, naked pictures of Ms. Bruni, taken when she was a model, have surfaced and sold for high prices at auction. Any one of these things would likely be unforgivable matters in the eyes of the American public and in particular, the conservative press, who made an issue out of a relatively benign Michelle Obama comment made during her husband's Presidential campaign.

Furthermore, it is one thing to forgive politicians for their zipper problems but quite another thing to make reference to a woman whose on-the-record comments seem to speak against the existence of any and all marriage or, for that matter, sexual fidelity. In a day and age where same-sex marriage is a hotly debated matter, if one took Bruni's advice at face value, then there would be no need for the institution itself, regardless of whether it took place within a heterosexual or homosexual context. Thus, there would be no need for court fights, protests, and coordinated approaches to advance the cause of same-sex unions. At this point, I probably ought to mention that you yourself, breaking with many in your party, have spoken out in favor of same-sex marriage in the recent past.

The societal expectations between the United States and France are about as different as chalk and cheese. France is a country where the residence have long held a cynical view towards politicians. In their collective attitude, all elected officials are automatically chronic philanders and all of them are heavily corrupt. At times I think this sort of attitude might be liberating, but I'm not sure I want to assume that when I go into the voting booth that every vote I cast, regardless of office or position, is for someone who is a sleazeball by default. America, with its Puritan, WASP heritage, seems to take the opposite extreme. What you are right to point out, Ms. McCain, is that we do hold our leaders and public figures to impossible standards here, both in their personal lives and in their chosen occupation.

This is, however, not likely to change. Politicians take a dual role in American life. Those we respect we use to project our own best qualities, or the perceived qualities we would like to have ourselves. Those we dislike are our whipping boys, who serve as a way for us to vent our frustrations and hostilities in socially acceptable ways. This is the nature of being in the public eye as it exists. Everyone who chooses to run for high elected office knows both the risks and the great benefits that are the nature of the beast before going into it. I, for one, hope that we might find some middle ground between the American and French attitudes, but cultural mentalities are stubborn matters and do not evaporate overnight.


Utah Savage said...

Superb letter! I hope you get a response.

sunshine said...

Just popped over from Utah's.
What a great letter! I too like Meghan McCain. She was kind of under my radar until I saw her on The View a couple of months ago.
I just read the post below this one as well.
I'm so glad that your family got through that terrible ordeal with your sister! What a nightmare that must have been.
I hope that she has been able to move on and will have a healthy, happy life! All the best to your family.

PENolan said...

I like Megan, too, and think that she's spot on when she says that if Republicans want to survive politically, they need to be more accepting and inclusive.

Excellent advice, Comrade. Did you email your letter to The Daily Beast? It's very well written. You never know - maybe YOU could make some money through your astute observations.

Stranger things have happened ;)

Comrade Kevin said...

Thanks, Nolan!

I have taken your advice and e-mailed the letter to The Daily Beast. We'll see what happens.

Freida Bee, MD said...

I do not see Bruni's comments to be anti-marriage or in contradiction to same-sex marriage rights. I have a lot of respect for her ability to be so vocal about her own lifestyle preferences. I will not ever legally wed again, but that does not diminish my desire for equal rights. Marriage is a construct of society, and while what is being called for now by some is equal entry, others of us wish to take all authority over our domestic partnership/ sexual choices out of the hands of lawmakers and churches. I am with the latter. Government should be neutral on such matters, IMHO.

Comrade Kevin said...

Frieda Bee,

I see what you are saying, however, linking what Bruni has said will make some believe that those who advocate for same-sex marriage are in fact advocating for the right to have more than one wife/husband as well. That practice has been illegal in this country for over a century and those who advocate for it are often fringe types like those wacky offshoots of the Mormon church.

Comments like those do nothing but play into the hands of conservatives who are convinced that same-sex marriage leads down towards some slippery slope to incest or bestiality.

You are right in that marriage is a construct of society, but in my opinion, the act of attaining same-sex unions of any kind needs to be couched in language that espouses equal terms between both homosexual couples and heterosexual couples. Equality is the strongest argument that can be made, in my opinion.

Looping in concepts like multiple spouses is not a good strategy to success.