I’m not wasting a second here — let’s dive right in. Please consider this powerful image:
Denise C. McAllister, the sort of reactionary columnist who thinks trans people using public restrooms is the greatest crisis in America, dragged the daytime talk show The View — on which Meghan McCain, daughter of the late Sen. John McCain, is a host. Meghan, who has played the victim (unconvincingly!) for the better part of a year now, did what she does, woundedly replying that Denise had attended her 2017 nuptials: “You were at my wedding, Denise.”
Did this qualify as an epic “clapback,” as USA Today reported, or an evisceration, per HuffPo? Not even close. It’s far too pathetic, too pleading. It’s, “I thought we were friends!” Plus: “Shame on you for breaching the kind of country-club etiquette that we conservatives pride ourselves on.”
If anything, McCain should probably be embarrassed that she invited a hateful ghoul like D.C. “I’m a feminist’s worst nightmare” McAllister to observe her marital union. But while McCain’s tweet isn’t a bona fide burn, its fine shades of grievance and acute specificity — the very name “Denise” evokes a sniping hostility between rich white women on a prestige cable drama, does it not? — made it into a meme overnight.
As a statement of betrayal — by someone you might have known better than to trust — “You were at my wedding, Denise” is definitely up there with “Don’t email my wife.” Except… does attending someone’s wedding preclude the option of shit-talking them later? Is this part of the unspoken contract of being a wedding guest, along with buying something from the registry and not objecting at the “speak now” part of the ceremony?
Any analysis of this quandary ought to include an appraisal of the wedding itself: McCain was married a year and a half ago, at her family’s lodge in Sedona, Arizona, at sunset. Pretty nice! Moreover, the event took place just four months after her father revealed a diagnosis of stage-four brain cancer. That the ailing statesman gave her away before he passed on must have made for a highly emotional, intimate scene. Indeed, only 100 people — McAllister apparently among them — witnessed it. Perhaps this honor, such as it was, would be enough to prevent future criticism.
Then again, McAllister wasn’t necessarily on the bride’s side of the aisle. McCain married Ben Domench, co-founder of the openly racist, pro-molestation, mysteriously funded right-wing blog The Federalist, where McAllister is a frequent contributor.
Assuming Domench is the one who wanted to invite her to the wedding, I’d be tempted to argue that McAllister owes no particular allegiance to McCain when kicking off on Twitter, let alone 18 months after the fact. Besides, the food at the reception was “wild game,” reportedly Sen. McCain’s favorite, and honestly, how good could that have been? Was there a decent band? Were there goodie bags to take home? Hmmmm.
Then there are the extenuating circumstances of the attack: Meghan McCain is an annoying, disingenuous commentator who only got a plum TV gig thanks to her dad. The View is a non-informational clusterfuck that feeds on phony outrage cycles to remain halfway relevant. Trashing either is good and just, and if anyone has the right to be offended here, it’s little people, over McAllister’s use of the pejorative “midget.”
McAllister’s core opinion — that McCain’s histrionics and The View in general add no value to the political discourse — is correct, and its correctness may supersede the obligation to pretend she respects a public figure just because she drank her champagne. Too bad she backpedaled as soon as McCain engaged, dropping the M-word again, of course.
So, here we are, with no one to root for — and a test case that isn’t all that helpful in extrapolating rules for this kind of slap fight. It’s ultimately for the best that McAllister is sharing posts critical of McCain from august publications such as ilovemyfreedom.org, since that’s less time she has to demonize gay people.
As for the rest of us… well, look at it this way: Presumably, if you’re at someone’s wedding, they’re a friend. The duty of a friend is not to ignore your failings or defend your mistakes; to the contrary, they will call you out on your foolishness. Ideally, I guess, this wouldn’t happen in a public forum, but I also suspect you get the “friends” you deserve. That McCain was shocked to learn her husband’s far-right website is a haven for assholes does not increase my sympathy.
Anyway, wedding guests are generally doing the engaged couple a favor — paying for travel, formalwear, a gift, etc. — not the other way around. Can you imagine a reception amazing enough that you’d say to yourself, “Wow, I must never disparage the bride or groom after this”? Apart from Beyoncé and Jay Z’s, hell no! It’s far more likely you’ll say something snarky about the floral arrangements or place divorce bets while you’re still there. All you really agree to with your RSVP is to show up at the appointed hour and not make a scene (at least until the afterparty). A few weeks down the line, start all the social media beef you want with the newlyweds. You owe them nothing. Scorched earth, baby! Marriage is just patriarchy, and a stupid ring isn’t a shield against disapproval.
Oh, and if you can, please tweet this post to Meghan McCain. She blocked me years ago.