By Angela Barbuti
Last Fourth of July, Meghan McCain brought Michael Ian Black home to Arizona to meet her parents. McCain, 27, a single Republican, and Black, 40, a married Democrat, decided to tour the country together to see how the two political camps can get along. They survived surprisingly well and lived to tell the tale in America, You Sexy Bitch.
When I met Meghan, I was struck by how down to earth she is, despite the fact that if her father had won the election in 2008, I would have been talking to the daughter of the President. Never adverse to speaking her mind, we discussed the media’s criticism of her, her brutal honesty, and her hope to make changes within the Republican Party.
What was going through your mind when Michael asked you to write a book with him?
I thought it sounded fun and interesting to write a book with a liberal. I’ve never done anything like that. It sounded crazy and provocative, and it included politics which is right up my alley.
Michael is so funny. Were you constantly laughing during your trip?
Yes. At first I didn’t understand his style of humor, because it’s a little dry and dark. But once you tune into it, he’s hilarious. I think I made him laugh a lot too. I’m pretty funny.
You said that Michael is the first man you brought home during Fourth of July weekend.
He was the first guy I ever brought home to meet my family, period. A married comedian with kids! Which is very pathetic on my part and shows the kind of dating life I have [laughs].
Have you ever dated a liberal?
Not a hardcore liberal, but I’ve dated independents. I don’t think I could—at that point I think there’s too much that’s different. There’s a difference between writing a book with one dating one.
Your memoir is titled Dirty Sexy Politics; your new book is called America, You Sexy Bitch. Are you trying to promote politics as being sexy?
I think on some level, but it was not purposeful to have the word “sexy” in both. If I ever write another book, I promise that word won’t be in the title! I came up with the title for my first book when I was talking about what I wanted politics to be for young people. “I want it to be dirty, sexy, and provocative,” I spouted off to a friend of mine. She said, “That’s the title of your book!” And this new one, the title came from a story that happened when Michael and I were touring the Capitol.
When you were co-hosting The View, you said that your father did not appreciate the title America, You Sexy Bitch. Is this still the case?
No, he hated it when he first heard about it. I very rarely fight with my father, but he wanted to change it. He has since come around.
You were very honest in your memoir Dirty Sexy Politics, which was nice to read.
That book and the whole experience [of the 2008 campaign] feel like two lifetimes ago. I believe that I’m open and honest almost to a fault. In America in 2012, if there’s one thing I know people respond to—it’s organic personalities. I have this theory, because America is going through such a difficult time with the recession, it’s no longer interesting to watch or listen to anybody who proclaims to be a perfect person with a perfect family. People have responded to me for being honest about things, even when those things are sometimes embarrassing or complicated. Every time I’ve shown my scars and how difficult the world of politics can be, people have really responded.
You have said that your life’s mission is to change things within the Republican Party. How do you plan on doing that?
I’ll keep speaking out, writing, blogging, and working at MSNBC. At some point, I would love to help get a woman elected in some capacity. I would love to work for a female candidate running for President as a Republican. My biggest dream in my lifetime is to see a woman President.
Would you ever consider running for office?
I don’t think that I could get elected since I’ve lived my life so openly. I grew up in the public eye, so there are many things documented about me, and they aren’t always pretty and glamorous. Unfortunately, to run for office in this country, you have to have this perfect narrative, which I sway so far from. In this book, I admit to smoking weed. Is that something voters would vote for? I don’t know. We demand such perfection from our politicians, which is why I think they ultimately become quite boring. Perfection is boring.
Besides your father, who are your favorite politicians?
Chris Christie, Marco Rubio. Michele Bachmann, which I know will surprise people because she’s quite conservative. I met her in person and interviewed her recently and really respect her. Hillary Clinton, because I love a strong woman in politics even though I don’t agree with her. Joe Lieberman, Lindsey Graham; love them. Nikki Haley and what she did for Mitt Romney. Obviously Mitt Romney—I’ll give him a big shout out as well.
It’s known that Laura Ingraham and Rush Limbaugh have criticized you. How do you deal with the media’s criticism?
It’s become such a part of my life starting from when I was very young. My second column I ever wrote was after Laura Ingraham basically called me fat on national television. I opened up about how hard it is to be called fat, ugly, and a slut when you speak out in politics. I have a great support group of friends, family, and a lot of young people on the internet. I get many amazing tweets and comments on my blog and personal website. Anytime I’m feeling sad, I concentrate on the positive. It’s not easy; I don’t think you ever really get used to or get over criticism.
You studied at Columbia University and now live in the West Village. Do people recognize you in the city?
If I come from MSNBC and am all done up with hair and makeup and wearing a dress or suit, people will. I have two wardrobes in my closet. One is politics Meghan, which I wear on TV or to give speeches. The other is punk Meghan, when I wear concert t shirts and dress casual. I barely wear makeup on my off time.
In your memoir, you said that you’ve been at every Republican Convention since your mother was pregnant with you at Reagan’s in 1984. Will you be at this year’s?
I think I will! My mom is hosting a party and I’m going to help her with it. Hopefully I will be covering it either for The Daily Beast or MSNBC.
You have said that people come up to you and say, “Things would be so different if your father was President.”
People say that a lot and I don’t know if people are nostalgic of what could have been because things are still not going well and unemployment is at 8.4 percent. I don’t know how many times they actually mean it, or they are just trying to come up with something to say. I reply, “Thank you, I appreciate your support.” There’s not really much else to say.
Join Meghan and Michael at the Bryant Park Reading Room on Wednesday, July 11th at 12:30 pm for a talk and singing as part of Word for Word Author series.
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