11.30.10

Who You Calling a Blue Blood, Sarah?

Last week Palin dismissed the Bush family as "blue bloods" but Meghan McCain, who admits she's one, says the media star is playing a dangerous game that will tear apart the Republican Party.

Welcome to the echo chamber! This week's (or possibly month's) latest rhetorical talking point is "blue bloods." And guess what? In the way it has been used I am probably considered one and so is the entire Bush family, not to mention countless others. And who else would deliver such a catchy media talking point than, yes, Sarah Palin. The reference to "blue bloods" was made after former President George H.W. Bush and his wife Barbara said in an interview that they thought Mitt Romney was essentially the man to watch in 2012, followed by an extra zinger from the notorious straight talking former first lady Barbara Bush who said she thinks "Sarah Palin should stay in Alaska." Sarah Palin responded on the Laura Ingraham radio show saying "of course they think that, the Bush's are blue bloods."

I actually had to Google what the meaning of "blue bloods" was, although I could surmise that it was some kind of knock against education and coming from a family of some success. Yes, in essence that is what this statement meant. Families that work hard and achieve a long line of successful people are "blue bloods" and thus, she implied the opinions of said people are jaded and elitist, even if that family lineage has a long history of public service and leadership within Republican Party. Of course, Sarah Palin is also living the American dream, albeit a different one without the help of any kind of family lineage. She has a successful career that probably most Americans would want by earning millions for her reality show, appearances on Fox, and getting paid to go places and speak her mind. Both of these narratives exemplify why this country is still as Ronald Reagan famously put it "a shining city upon a hill." America is a place where people can create their own success so their children can have more opportunities than they did. Neither the Bush family's success nor Sarah Palin's are relevant to the political conversation regarding who is best suited to be the next GOP leader. Both stories are simply the American dream and taking issue with one kind of path towards success versus another is very dangerous. Lest we forget, Sarah Palin herself is now a multi-millionaire.

None of this is all together surprising except for the fact that historically it is the moderates—or people like yours truly—who get accused of starting party infighting and this statement from Sarah Palin showcases that on a very basic level the underlying cultural separation in this country is also happening within the Republican party itself.

I take particular issue with the "blue blood" rhetoric because in case Republicans haven't realized, we are still losing a public relations battle. Instead of sitting around and opining about who is too much of an elitist or a "blue blood" within our own party, our leaders need to start educating this country about the shortcomings of the Obama administration and why smaller government is a fundamentally more effective way of governing. This administration is giving us plenty to work with regarding their shortcomings and poor leadership, and we shouldn't be wasting our time fighting about who has the more appropriate and all-American narrative best suited for the next great GOP leader. The "dynastic Bush's" won't come out and say that they wholeheartedly support Sarah Palin and think she should be the next President, but this does not mean that they are clearly elitist and have no idea what real Americans are thinking. Jumping to that conclusion is reckless and at the end of the day serves to benefit a rhetorical posture and not the party as a whole. We are still nearly a year away from the next election cycle and there will be plenty of time for opinions regarding who should or should not be most fit for becoming our next GOP nominee for President. Concerning what family you come from or what opportunities an individual has or has not been given does not, in fact, negate that person's opinion.

We are watching the old fashioned spirit of the Republican Party that once served us so well abused for the purpose of clever talking points.

As Republicans, we cannot risk heightening this cultural war to a higher level than it is already. It is not just the liberal elites versus the "real" American Republicans, it is now becoming a war within the Republican Party itself about what kind of people we want leading the party. This type of rhetoric will continue to alienate and stereotype Republicans that don't pass cultural purity tests. We are watching the old fashioned spirit of the Republican Party that once served us so well abused for the purpose of clever talking points.

Meghan McCain is a columnist for The Daily Beast. Originally from Phoenix, she graduated from Columbia University in 2007. She is a New York Times bestselling children's author, previously wrote for Newsweek magazine, and created the Web site mccainblogette.com. Her new book, Dirty Sexy Politics, was published in August.