Dirty Sexy Politics

Dirty Sexy Politics

3.7 71
by Meghan McCain

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Meghan McCain came to prominence as the straight-talking, progressive daughter of the 2008 Republican presidential candidate Senator John McCain. And her profile has only risen since the election ended in favor of the other guy.

What makes Meghan so appealing? As a new role model for young, creative, and vocal members of the GOP, she's unafraid to mix it up and


Meghan McCain came to prominence as the straight-talking, progressive daughter of the 2008 Republican presidential candidate Senator John McCain. And her profile has only risen since the election ended in favor of the other guy.

What makes Meghan so appealing? As a new role model for young, creative, and vocal members of the GOP, she's unafraid to mix it up and speak her mind. In Dirty Sexy Politics she takes a hard look at the future of her party. She doesn't shy away from serious issues and her raucous humor and down-to-earth style keep her positions accessible.

In this witty, candid, and boisterous book, Meghan takes us deep behind the scenes of the campaign trail. She steals campaign signs in New Hampshire, tastes the nightlife in Nashville, and has a strange encounter with Laura and Jenna Bush at the White House. Along the way, she falls in love with America—while seeing how far the Republican Party has veered from its core values of freedom, honesty, and individuality. In Dirty Sexy Politics, Meghan McCain gives us a true insider's account of life on a campaign trail.

Editorial Reviews

"I am concerned about the environment. I love to wear black. I think government is best when it stays out of people's lives and business as much as possible. I love punk rock. I believe in a strong national defense. I have a tattoo. I believe government should always be efficient and accountable. I have lots of gay friends. And, yes, I am a Republican." Meghan McCain's brief synopsis might not put her on the record about every topic covered in her new book, but it does accurately convey the liveliness and eclecticism of her insights. Dirty Sexy Politics lures you in with a slightly naughty title, but delivers its goods with a refreshing vivacity all its own.
Steven Levingston
All the tears [McCain] spilled and the slights she felt pour out here in this youthful narrative—made all the more enjoyable by its healthy sense of humor.
—The Washington Post

Product Details

Hachette Books
Publication date:
Product dimensions:
5.70(w) x 8.30(h) x 0.80(d)
Age Range:
18 Years

Read an Excerpt


By Meghan McCain


Copyright © 2010 Meghan McCain
All right reserved.

ISBN: 978-1-4013-2377-6

Chapter One


THE NIGHT BEFORE IT WAS ANNOUNCED THAT SARAH PALIN WOULD BE MY FATHER'S RUNNING MATE FOR VICE PRESIDENT, I WENT TO SLEEP joking with Shannon and Heather about what it would be like campaigning across the country with five married Mormon men and all those baby grandchildren of Mitt Romney. My roommates and I had lots of jokes about the Romneys, who seemed doomed to join the campaign any second. They were all so handsome, in a tooth-whitener commercial kind of way, and so seriously wholesome. We wondered whether the Five Brothers, the nickname for the Romney sons, could handle the constant drinking and swearing that went on in our campaign-the press corps included. Not to mention all the tawdry stories about crazy-sex that you never read about.

Crazy-sex, in case some clarification is necessary, is a category of sex on its own. It is sex with somebody who is extremely bad for you. Somebody you probably don't even like that much. But on the road, things have a way of changing. You don't have regular contact with friends. You don't see your family that often. You start to miss them both, and your comfortable bed at home. This causes you to look at the world differently, through what we called "campaign goggles." It was just like "beer goggles," when people around you seem more fascinating the more you drink, except it's caused by prolonged contact. Each day of togetherness on a campaign, stuck on a bus or airplane, listening to one more stump speech, brought you closer and closer until, very slowly over time, even the most boring campaign drones and journalists started to seem attractive. Campaign goggles can distort reality very powerfully and are the cause of almost all crazy-sex and other campaign hookups.

Stories abound, and I'm sure you've heard some, about how wild and raucous and lusty political life can be, especially during a presidential election. When the stakes are high, the behavior gets really low. I don't want to give the impression that I'm immune to bad behavior. But while my father was making a bid for the presidency, I didn't have a death wish-which meant absolutely, positively, no crazy-sex for me. It was the kind of decision that has "SURVIVAL SKILLS" written all over it.

The night before the announcement, I had a nice big king-sized bed all to myself. It was late and I was having trouble settling down. I swilled Red Bull and Diet Coke all day on the campaign, gorged on pizza and donuts, and at night, after all that sugar and caffeine, it was hard to decompress. Shannon and Heather-my friends, angels, and colleagues who took videos and still photographs for the campaign and my blog-were in an adjoining room. I could hear them laughing. On the road, we were always together, our days spent mostly in transit, on one of the three campaign buses that took everybody around the country. At night, we shared connecting rooms in Holiday Inns-very rarely anything nicer. One room had a king. The next room had two twins. We always took turns getting our own room.

When I finished college, I told my parents that I didn't want to go to graduate school, or open a clothing boutique, as previously discussed. I wanted to join the campaign. They said that I could come along if I paid my own way. The campaign was a sinking ship, or at least financially sunk, when I joined in July 2007. There was no money for extras, and no money for me, or my blog, or the people I'd need to help me produce it. My father's campaign manager, Terry Nelson, and the campaign strategist, John Weaver-who was one of my father's closest friends, and like an uncle to me-had run the operation into near bankruptcy. Poll numbers were slipping. Fund-raising had stalled. Our spirits were low and it was hard to be optimistic, but my dad wasn't resigned to another loss.

And neither was I. I would do anything for him, and relished the thought of a front row seat on the campaign. 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. As far as I could tell, the Republican Party was hopelessly unschooled in lots of things, but particularly in its efforts to attract young people by using the Internet, in spite of all the millions of dollars spent on "web consulting."

By being independent, and not paid for by the McCain campaign, I'd be free to write what I wanted-or so I hoped-while revealing a more personal side of my dad and my family (the campaign, for all its experts and big thinkers, seemed particularly bad at this). But my blog had led to conflicts, a big ugly mess of them.

* * *

IN MY HEART OF HEARTS, I'D ALWAYS HOPED MY FATHER would pick Senator Joe Lieberman as his running mate. Aside from being a brilliant politician, Joe is one of the kindest, friendliest, and funniest people I have ever met, not particularly common traits when it comes to the famous and powerful. Always in good spirits, he never seems affected by the fray, or criticism. Sometimes his jokes alone kept me sane during those endless bus rides throughout the country.

Probably even more important, Joe Lieberman is one of the people whom my father can relax around-always. For me, this counts for a lot. Like everything else in my life, the personal and the professional are hard to pull apart, and usually I don't want to. If I like somebody enough to be friends with them, that's exactly the kind of person I want to work with.

Politically speaking, picking Lieberman seemed like a brilliant move too. He is a former Democrat, and was previously the running mate of Al Gore. I have to admit, I loved the idea of having two independent-leaning politicians on the Republican ticket against the steadily left-leaning Barack Obama. I thought this would pull moderates like me-there were thirty million or more of us floating around the country-in the party's direction.

But by the time I went to bed on the night of August 28, 2008, I had already been told that Joe Lieberman and Bobby Jindal, the governor of Louisiana, hadn't made the final cut. That left me assuming-to the point of certainty-that Mitt Romney, the former governor of Massachusetts, would be chosen. There was a slight possibility it could be Tim Pawlenty, who had a great head of hair. But aside from this fact, and that he was the governor of Minnesota, I knew nothing else about him.

My focus had been on Romney for months. He was a minor obsession of mine, I have to confess-the politician whom I most loved to watch and ridicule during the primaries. He'd given me so many sublime moments of laughter. It was incredible how he kept switching his story, and backpedaling, and making my father out to be an old has-been and tired Washington insider.

YouTube had an irresistible Romney clip that we'd all seen and laughed over. It showed a heated squabble between the governor and a chubby, semi-dorky AP reporter named Glenn Johnson at a press conference inside a Staples office supply store. Johnson is rumpled and sitting on the floor of Staples, legs stretched out, his laptop attached to him like a college student. Romney is standing over him, super-erect, his hair gelled and perfectly black. He's wearing a plaid shirt and a Windbreaker, and like so many of Romney's "spontaneous" moments on his campaign, he seems so unnatural.

From his spot on the floor, Glenn Johnson keeps drilling away with questions about Romney hiring Washington lobbyists on his campaign, while Romney becomes more and more frustrated.

Romney's campaign manager eventually loses it, and pulls the reporter aside. "Don't be argumentative with the candidate!" It's truly priceless, and I loved how Romney, who always came off as slick and unreal, had been undone by such a visual mess of a guy. I'd seen the clip at least fifty times and laughed every time. (Much later, I ran into Glenn Johnson on the street in New York and told him how much I loved his YouTube clip. For the record, he'd lost an extreme amount of weight by then and looked great.)

It was hard to adjust to nice thoughts about Romney-or to stop laughing at him. But that's politics. You could loathe somebody during the primaries and then, suddenly, consider him a good guy and shrewd politician as soon as you've beaten him and he's joined your team. Just a few months earlier, Romney's campaign and ours were intense rivals. But now that we were supposed to be the best of friends, I needed to put jokes aside and focus on the tremendous positives Romney would bring to the ticket. He was handsome, smart, and extremely experienced in matters of the economy, an issue that would eventually become lethal to my father's campaign. Also, I had met the governor and some of his campaign operatives and have to admit that they were a lot more easygoing and real than I ever thought possible.

Let's be honest. We needed Mitt Romney. He made perfect sense. We could put down the sword because, at the end of the day, we were fighting for the same political ideals. We were all Republicans-and fought for individual freedom, smaller government, a strong defense. These ideals were things that we cared passionately about, and were supposed to be more important than cultural or religious divides, more important than what kind of clothes we wore, or whether we had sex before marriage-or even whom we had sex with.

That's how it was supposed to be, anyway. But increasingly, the more conservative wing of the Republican Party wasn't accepting of moderates like me. It wasn't enough that we all shared a conservative philosophy that we cared passionately about. It seemed like you had to prove you were conservative enough. It made me uneasy. And, like all humor, my jokes about Romney shielded something very real. It wasn't so much that I disapproved of the Romneys. I worried they'd disapprove of me-my bleached hair, my swearing, my "edgy" clothes, not to mention my gay friends. Would they accept me or scorn me as some kind of closet liberal who didn't fit in?

Being a Republican was sometimes difficult if you had any wayward ideas or attitudes, or if your lifestyle wasn't conventional-even though what was "conventional" had eroded to the point of being unrecognizable, or didn't exist anymore. Republicans seemed to yearn for the golden era of the Reagan eighties, when AIDS wasn't discussed, along with so many other things. Now, in an effort to pretend nothing had changed, the party seemed like a secret sect, a membership that you had to prove yourself worthy of.

But what about the less "conventional" people who hated groupthink and just wanted to live life without big government breathing down our backs? And what about me? I am passionate about individual liberty. I believe in God and the church, but am as adamantly pro-life as I am passionate in my support of gay marriage. What worried me much more than the Romneys or Huckabees disapproving of me personally-I could deal with that-was how moderates like me would ever fit into their idea of what a Republican was, or should be. With these exclusionary attitudes, in ten or twenty years there would be no party left.

But it was too soon to go down this road. We'd given up a shot at Joe Lieberman, and had most likely moved on to Mitt Romney. This would bring changes to our Pirate Ship, as our campaign was lovingly called. We'd have to clean up our act a little bit. Not that I really drank much, or ever took drugs. And I was celibate as a nun. But I suspected my days of swearing like a sailor and dancing in the bus aisles were over.

The future was full of unknowns. But I had learned a few things on the campaign already, and knew that change always brought complications and chaos-and sometimes a little entertainment. Drama was inevitable on a campaign and created almost out of thin air. Tempers were always flying, and feelings were always being hurt. There was no question that a running mate would add to the confusion and upset. There would be less time for fun. But I couldn't have predicted just how serious it was going to get.

Chapter Two




I heard the voice of Dana Bash, the correspondent on CNN, giving a report. But the exact words were garbled.

The suspense should have killed me, but it hadn't-not yet, anyway. I do remember having extreme anxiety as soon as I woke up and feeling, suddenly, very angry that I still had no idea who my father's running mate was. It was mystifying how unplugged-in I was. It was galling, and seemed a little crazy, that I, the candidate's daughter and a campaign blogger, had no idea whether I would be campaigning tomorrow with Romney, Pawlenty, or some random politician I'd never met.

"Is it Romney?" I called out louder.

They didn't know, they said. It wasn't part of the broadcast.

"How can that be possible?"

Why didn't Dana Bash know? Dana always knew-always-what was going on. She was the CNN correspondent on the campaign and a very classy one, actually one of the very few journalists I always enjoyed being around because she respected the concept of "off the record."

Still in bed, and in my pajamas, I grabbed my cell phone from the nightstand and called my mother.

"Mom, who is it?"

She paused.

"Mom, do you know?"

"I'm not going to tell you," she said.


"We don't want anyone to know."

Now, let me say my mother and I have a very open relationship. She has stuck by me, defended me, nurtured and supported me. Aside from some dorky outfits she used to put on me when I was little, she has never tried to meld me into her clone. Ever since I can remember, she has been my biggest, most loyal cheerleader. We've had our ups and downs, like any mother and daughter, but we worked through things by talking. Communication was essential. But that morning, she let me down.

To make matters worse, my dad clearly had a hand in the decision to cut me out too.

I clicked off the phone and immediately started crying. Crying became bawling, which evolved quickly into uncontrollable sobbing. I am sensitive, way too sensitive for politics probably, and really emotional by nature. I can't fight it and I don't want to. I'd rather have big feelings than shut down and become dead inside. I've seen what that way of dealing with life does to people, how it plays a direct hand in the disconnection between politics and people.

Shannon and Heather surrounded me. You couldn't ask for better friends. They tried to console me and at the same time, make me get in the shower because I was going to have to be onstage that day, in just a few hours, and stand alongside my father and mother and the new, wrongfully secret, vice presidential running mate.

Shannon tried to keep things light. "You need to bathe!"

I kept sobbing.

"You've got to pull it together!"

I was still overcome.

"People are going to be watching you, girl."

It was hard to fathom why my parents would let me down so much.

"Get showered, get serious, and get some mascara on!"

Eventually, I ended up getting in the shower, but couldn't find the will-or whatever it takes-to wash my hair. I know in the scheme of things it doesn't matter, and it won't say on my tombstone, HAD DIRTY HAIR WHEN SHE MET SARAH PALIN, but girls, you know those mornings, and you know the feeling. What was I thinking? Why didn't I take the time to shampoo? Not to mention that part of my job-as daughter-of and political prop-is to have clean hair, but I'd already failed at that.

Next, I had to decide what to wear, just as my bags were being taken away.

I should explain. Presidential campaigns have something called "bag call." We had to pack and leave our suitcases outside our hotel rooms ninety minutes before departing for the day's events. It sounds so organized and tidy. But in reality, it's a giant pain in the ass. There were often things that I needed to get ready in the morning-my cosmetics and toiletries, to start with. If I didn't get showered and dressed well ahead of schedule, I would have to pull out everything I thought I'd need that day before surrendering my suitcase. The result was that I, like most of the women on the campaign, lugged around a giant purse or tote bag with my pajamas and toiletries in it, or whatever hadn't made it into my suitcase by the time the advance team took them away.


Excerpted from DIRTY Sexy POLITICS by Meghan McCain Copyright © 2010 by Meghan McCain. Excerpted by permission.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

Meet the Author

Meghan McCain is the creator of the Web site mccainblogette.com and has written for Newsweek. She is currently a blogger for The Daily Beast.

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Dirty Sexy Politics 3.7 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 70 reviews.
KoreanPrincss More than 1 year ago
Meghan McCain is honest and very refreshing. To me, it doesn't matter with which political party you affiliate, her memoir of the campaign trail and memories of her parents was interesting nonetheless. Her honesty is entertaining and at the same time, thought-provoking. She, as a "daughter-of", shows that not everything on the campaign is glitz and glamor like you might assume. I highly recommend this as a very good read to anyone.
dtbart More than 1 year ago
Meghan McCain's account of the 2008 U.S. Presidential campaign of John McCain is entertaining and casually written. There are some honest assessments of the campaign staff, candidates, and activities, but nothing that is really earth-shattering. An easy read with good topics for later conservation.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
As a registered Republican who voted for Obama, this book is a breath of fresh air. Republican's in office or running should take notes if they have any hope of regaining the younger demographic's votes.
AdvRider More than 1 year ago
Very little sex in this book. But, that's okay from my perspective. It is an account of her father's campaign from Meghan's perspective. Very little new information here but certainly a different perspective. The book provides some insight into how a younger generation is viewing politics.
Stokette More than 1 year ago
If you have any interest at all in young person's view on the republican party - then you must read this book! Meghan tells it like it is and doesn't sugar coat anything. Her view is entertaining, funny, and very informative. I absolutely loved reading it. It felt as if she was there telling the story. I love how she doesn't hold anything back (except for a couple of people's names)! Her passion and vision for the republican party sums up how a lot of us young people feel. Young people have views too, even if we may not say it in a way that people find acceptable - we are who we are and know what we want, Meghan McCain definately shows that in this book!
terrylazar More than 1 year ago
During her father's campaign, Meghan came across as a spoiled little rich girl with an attitude. But after reading this entertaining book, she appears to be the most human of all the people surrounding her. Her wit and appealing nature toward those who were advising her about all things political made her very likable and easy to understand. I hope she continues her writing and I look forward to reading her again.
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DrJenski More than 1 year ago
I'm interested in politics and campaigns, so I was curious to see what Meghan McCain had to say. Though I'm on the opposite side of her dad's political spectrum, I did enjoy this book. I didn't buy it--I read it for free in-store. Like previous reviewers have said, there's nothing groundbreaking in this book. However, her story is entertaining.
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