Calling Meghan McCain Clueless Isn't Sexist

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The Players: Meghan McCain, daughter of John McCain, Conservative pundit, and savvy victim-blogger; Newt Gingrich, Republican hopeful and distant third-placer in the Romney inevitability race; Tucker Carlson, Conservative pundit and creator of the Daily Caller news site

The Opening Serve: Meghan McCain is on Team Romney (and has been for some time) which, unfortunately for Newt Gringrich, means throwing the other non-Romneys aside--Newt in particular. She visited the Imus in the Morning show last month to talk shop about the 2012 hopefuls. "I don't need a rockstar president, I never did," said McCain. Perry, she said, is "just wasting everyone's time."  She then went on a tangential but fiery rant about the third-place Gingrich. "It's the same thing I think about Newt Gingrich. This is obviously some kind of vanity project. And I don't think running for president should be a vanity project," said McCain. "I don't like him. I don't even care about Newt Gingrich, he's so passé to me. He's not relevant."  Tucker Carlson's Daily Caller news site caught up with Gingrich, who asked, "How would she have a clue?"

The Return Volley:  McCain, the newly-minted MSNBC contributor, appeared on the network earlier this week and shared more thoughts on Newt Gingrich. "I think he’s delusional," said McCain. "And him calling me clueless I just think is so sexist and disgusting and lame and a really offhanded remark … that he’s making towards me and I think it's ridiculous." McCain's comments prompted Carlson to link to the interview and tweet: "Whatever John McCain's sins, he does not deserve a daughter like this..." McCain fired back, "That's by far the nastiest thing anybody has said about me in a very long time Tucker. Genuinely hurt my feelings."  Carlson eventually apologized, which then turned into a half-apology: "I was just annoyed that you described criticism of you as 'sexism.'"

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What They Say They're Fighting About: Toeing the party line and Newt Gingrich.  A lot of this scuffle has to do with McCain's place in Republican dynamics. She believes she represents a younger, Republican generation and Gingrich doesn't fit into that picture or even in the margins for that matter. But there's also the dynamic of McCain joining the "lean forward" network MSNBC. Carlson's tweet doesn't really specify whether he's upset with her throwing punches at the former Speaker of the House or signing up with a liberal-leaning network, or maybe both?

What They're Really Fighting About: Meghan McCain's definition of sexism, her vanity projects; Tucker Carlson's definition of Sexism and vanity projects.  Elspeth Reeve noted that as a writer, "McCain's greatest hits include, "Don't Call Me a Slut", "Stop the Fat Jokes," "Quit Talking About My Weight, Laura Ingraham," "Shut Up About My Body, Glenn Beck," "Yes, I Wear Fake Hair," and "America's Boob Police." She's parlayed being a victim of sexism into a career, but Carlson believes she's gotten it wrong this time. And Carlson himself should know, who has his own sexism spat with a conservative pundit over his own vanity project Daily Caller news site.

Who's Winning Now: Carlson, though there's a jumbling mix of pots and kettles here. While Carlson dug a little too deep with the daughter comment, he correctly points out McCain is incorrectly crying sexism, but at this point, it doesn't really seem like it will hurt her conservative punditry career or McCain's Me-My-and-I blogging regimen. And definitely don't put it past the "blogette" to turn "the nastiest thing anybody has said about me" into another column.

This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.