Ms. McCain minces no words, saying, "I straight up don’t understand this woman or her popularity. I find her offensive, radical, insulting, and confusing all at the same time."
Ann Coulter, of course, is a right-wing shock jock (or "gyno-jock," if that's more politically-correct), and Ms. McCain's attack on her is clearly a strawman.
But the slam on Coulter is the peripheral issue here: What's important is Ms. McCain's message on today's GOP. She argues, for example, that "President Obama has successfully established himself as the hippest politician around," and "being a Republican is about as edgy as Donny Osmond."
Ouch! And furthermore:
I consider myself a progressive Republican ....Coming from the daugther of the 2008 GOP nominee, this critique should be given some consideration. This meme is also important in the context of Ms. McCain's earlier argument that Republicans are simply not as tech-savvy in info-mobilization and mass-technology politics.
I’m often criticized for not being a “real” Republican, and I have been called a RINO—Republican In Name Only—in the past. Many say I am not “conservative enough,” which is something that I am proud of. It is no secret that I disagree with many of the old-school Republican ways of thinking. One of the biggest issues from which I seem to drift from the party base is in my support of gay marriage. I am often criticized for previously voting for John Kerry and my support of stem-cell research. For the record, I am also extremely pro-military and a big supporter of the surge and the Iraq war ....
I am sure most extreme conservatives and extreme liberals would find me a confusing, walking contradiction. But I assure you, there are many people out there just like me who represent a new, younger generation of Republicans. It took me almost two years of campaigning across this country and hanging out, on a daily basis, with some of the most famous and most intelligent Republicans to fall in love with the Republican Party. If it took that much time and exposure for me to join the party, how can GOP leaders possibly expect to reach young supporters by staying the course they have been on these past eight years?
Certainly, to me, the notion of "progressive Republcans" is a contraction in terms. Even Edmund Burke said conservatives must adapt to change, but change must follow tradition and presumption, and society can't change for change's sake. I get this feeling from Ms. McCain and others that they favor progressive policies as a matter of electoral expedience - even "hipness" - not according to whether such change best advances and protects humankind's most imporant spiritual and material interests. Does "progressive conservatism" truly extend and preserve freedom? Does this new GOP paradigm get back to the constitutional roots of limited government? Indeed, can the Republican Party survive as an electoral alternative if it simply apes the popularity and social mores of the current party-in-power, a true progressive apparatus that's likely to destroy America's historic foundations of individualism and egalitarianism in the private sphere?
There are a number of commentators making a similar case to Meghan McCain's (some more intellectually honest than others, ahem...). On top of that, we've got the news today that Nancy Reagan is backing President Obama's stem-cell policy. We also have the story that the number of Americans identifying themselves as Christian has dropped substantially over the last generation. I'm sure I could find other examples of cultural and generational changes that are likely to pose problems for the GOP in terms of forming stable, long-term winning coalitions.
I'm waiting to hear back from Robert Stacy McCain about all of this. McCain's been making the case that Barack Obama's economic policies will fail, and Republicans will be positioned sooner rather than later for a return to power, in Congress and perhaps the executive. But a lasting Republican electoral model needs to be more than about protecting the interests of "economic man." The roots of conservatism are found in traditions and institutions that limit governmental power and unlock the potential of the individual.
All this talk about "progressive Republicans" is unappealing, if not a little worrying. Ann Coulter's publicity gimmicks are the least of the conservative movement's problems problems right now.