EXCERPT: Meghan McCain's 'Dirty Sexy Politics'


In a few instances, nicknames are used. This is meant as a goodwill gesture. I am a work in progress – and embarrassed myself many times during the seventeen months that I was on the road with the campaign. I thought it would be only fair to give a few people the break I would hope they would give me.

Did I make stuff up? No. Apparently there is a long-standing tradition of making things up in a memoir so your life seems worse and better than it really was. I get it. There's a need for drama and good plot twists. But in the case of this book, I didn't make things up. As for plot twists, the whole world knows how this book ends already. My dad loses.

If events seem altered, it isn't intentional. It is how I remembered things. I checked dates and facts, and corroborated my accounts with friends and family, but my stories are decidedly impressionistic rather than reportorial. This is how I remember my time on my father's campaign.

Another thing this book doesn't do intentionally: score settling. Lots of political memoirs are written with an axe to grind. The embittered writer comes off like the wisest or folksiest person around and, if the world had just listened to her, everything would have been fantastic. Well, I really hope that this book isn't like that.

I am not a politician trying to drum up support. I have no plans to ever run for office. My hope is to present a unique account of history without compromising it with attempts to make myself look really good. I turned twenty-three and twenty-four while on the road campaigning and, as you will see, my age and inexperience showed.

I don't have a secret agenda, in other words, aside from wanting to be honest, entertaining, and also insightful about a particularly interesting election in our nation's history. My hope is that this book will encourage readers to become involved in the democratic process – and look at politics in a new way. If I'm totally honest with myself, the only score that I may be trying to settle is one with the Republican Party, which seems to have lost its way in the last ten years.

I realize that it is ironic that this book tells the story of my own struggle to get my act together. But it is one of the bizarre realities of life that you can be a mess yourself but still see so clearly what is wrong with others.

I used to joke that I am hooked on "taking the red pill," a reference to the science fiction movie The Matrix in which the main character, Neo, is "taking the red pill" and choosing to face the reality of the Matrix – rather than "taking the blue pill" and wanting to believe in a lie. When I meet somebody new, I will sometimes say, "He's taking the blue pill." This means he is living in a dream world.

Here's my dream: The political party that identifies with the color red should start taking pills of the same color.

Honesty. Individualism. Freedom. Back in the day, these concepts were the bedrock of the Republican Party. It wasn't that long ago, either. I am old enough to remember Barry Goldwater, the late senator from Arizona. He was a great conservative visionary, a man of great charm and a playful spirit. As a little girl, I remember goofing around with him. Once, when he and I were having our picture taken together, I stuck my tongue out at him. Without a moment's pause, Senator Goldwater stuck out his tongue at me right back.

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