In campaign appearances Cindy McCain tends to look like one of the frozen chosen, what with the stiff upsweep and super-crisp pantsuits. But it was a more relaxed, curly-haired Cindy on The View — she wore a blue-star mother’s pin in honor of her Marine son, who has served in Iraq.
What did she share with Barbara, Joy, Whoopi, and Elisabeth? Not much, but she did it amiably: She calls the senator “Johnny-boy”; he worries about “the bee problem” and the environment; he is a good cook; he’s so fit he intends to hike the Grand Canyon this summer with their sons. And as for the temper issue, she says he doesn’t really have one, at least with her. And, of course, he feels passionate about some things.
She did touch lightly on the tiny “recipegate” kerfuffle — last week, a blogger noted that the recipes posted on the McCain campaign website as Cindy’s were really from the Food Network and Rachael Ray. The dishes included ahi tuna with napa cabbage slaw, and passion-fruit mousse. The intern who posted them has been sent, she said, to “Betty Crocker boot camp.” The next time the campaign posts recipes, ones hopes they go better with the beer her family’s company distributes.
Cindy McCain also shared that she is writing a book about her life and campaign-trail experiences, which gave Barbara Walters the opportunity to promote her own big-deal autobiography, which will be published in a few weeks. And that seemed to fit right into the usual flow of a show where, between the advertisements, something or someone is always promoted.
The other guests were Craig Ferguson, the late-night host who will M.C. Saturday’s White House Correspondents’ Dinner. He told Cindy that John McCain is a bit of a problem for late-night hosts: “I mean all we’ve got is he’s old. So he’s old. That isn’t very much.”
The final guest was another late-night comedian, a blond named Chelsea Handler, whose schtick is sharing the details of her free-and-easy sex life and devotion to vodka. She seemed to embarrass Barbara Walters more than she did Cindy, who just smiled along and kept out of it. Handler also said she has adopted two children — both named Earl — but they don’t live with her. She wasn’t too clear about where exactly they do live.
Unfortunately, no one mentioned one of the most revealing stories about Cindy McCain. How in 1991, during a relief mission to Mother Teresa’s Bangladesh orphanage, the nun asked her to bring an infant girl to America to have her cleft palate corrected. Cindy did more than that: She adopted the baby, now their teen-age daughter, Bridget.
But when John McCain was running for the Republican nomination, the biggest story about his wife was her past addiction to prescription drugs. It began when she had back surgery. To handle the pain she relied on Percocet and Vicodin. At the height of her dependency she was taking 15 to 20 pills a day and hiding it from her family.
To get the pills she had doctors write prescriptions for the medical mission organization she ran. After her parents intervened, she quit cold-turkey and had additional surgery to cure her back problems. But the DEA was tipped off about the missing medication.
In an interview she gave Ladies’ Home Journal during the 2000 campaign, she said, “I had to tell John on the telephone, he was in Washington. He told me, ‘When you are family you love each other in spite of mistakes. It’s unconditional.’” In 1994 she reached a deal with U.S. Attorney’s office that included treatment, restitution, and community service. At that time she revealed all to her two older children and the media.
An appearance on The View, with all its girl–talk, may not sway many voters — a lot of the conversation was about Elisabeth’s daughter giving up her pacifier — but throughout Cindy McCain was low key, attractive, and appealing. And that can’t hurt with the millions of female viewers watching; it can only help.
— Myrna Blyth, long-time editor of Ladies Home Journal and founding editor of More, is author of Spin Sisters: How the Women of the Media Sell Unhappiness — and Liberalism — to the Women of America. Blyth is also an NRO contributor.