Why Meghan McCain Is Right

Meghan McCain, whose father apparently ran for some political office at one time, certainly knows how to attract attention. Unfortunately, at least among doctrinaire Republicans, it's generally of the wrong sort.

Her most recent outing was a speech delivered to the Log Cabin Republicans' 2009 convention. In an occasionally rambling but hopeful address, Ms. McCain drew fire from the punditry for daring to give voice to an ugly truth which many party loyalists would rather not contemplate: if the ideological purists of the GOP -- particularly the social conservatives -- wish to thin the herd by driving all the RINOs from their midst, they are dooming the Republicans to a future as a regional party with little hope for electoral success on a national level.

She may be young and lacking a deep well of life experience from which to draw, but kids still do say the darnedest things. "What I am talking about tonight is what it means to be a new, progressive Republican. Now some will say I can't do that. If you aren't this and that, then you're clearly a 'Republican in Name Only,' also affectionately known as a RINO."

The rest of the speech makes it clear what she means by being "this and that." To be fair to Meghan's critics, her speech did indeed lend itself to some of the hyperbolic stereotypes of conservatives which portray them as rich, out of touch, angry, old, homophobic, racist white men who adore pollution and incinerate puppies in backyard burn barrels. But stereotypes only tend to find traction in our society if there is a flickering ember beneath all the smoke, and fire breathers willing to fan the flames.

For a brief glimpse at the reactions of the base to such a RINO, we need look no further than the nearly 700 comments left at a Hot Air post on Ms. McCain's speech. Calls for party purity in the name of "true conservatism," mixed with a cavalcade of insults and frankly offensive derision, drown out any reasoned discussion as to whether or not the young lady might have had a point.

Among the various stereotypes referenced above, Meghan drew the ire of many readers for one fairly innocuous sentence.: "I care about the environment." This is an area where conservatism's loudest cheerleaders have consistently managed to shoot the Republican Party in the foot and cede a great deal of real estate to the Democrats for no good reason.

It's perfectly valid to make a rational, scientifically sustainable argument that the lion's share of climate change may not be directly caused by the actions of man without making a mockery of everything relating to environmental issues. Yet any time a topic arises concerning carbon emissions, pollution, recycling, energy conservation, or green technology, we see our supporting peanut gallery showing up in droves with the same old hackneyed insults. "Enviro-zealots, hippies and tree huggers" are prominently on display in these discussions.