Skip to comments.Andrew Sullivan: It’s all getting a little hysterical (Ann Coulter = Michael Moore)
Posted on 07/05/2003 4:28:35 PM PDT by Pokey78
Few would dispute that shes a babe. Lanky, skinny, with long blonde hair tumbling down to her breasts, Ann Coulter has been photographed in a shiny black latex dress. Shes whip-sharp in public debates, has done a fair amount of homework and has made a lot of the right enemies.
If much of modern American conservatism has made headway because of its media savvy, compelling personalities and shameless provocation, then Coulter deserves some pride of place in its vanguard.
But that, of course, is also the problem. In the ever-competitive marketplace of political ideas in a world of blogs and talk radio and cable news it is increasingly hard to stand out. Coulters answer to that dilemma is twofold: look amazing and ratchet up the rhetoric against the left until it has the subtlety and nuance of a car alarm. The left, in turn, has learnt the lesson, which is why the attack dog Michael Moore has done so well.
In fact, its worth thinking of Coulter as a kind of inverse Moore: whereas hes ugly and ill-kempt, shes glamorous and impeccably turned out. (Her web page, anncoulter.org, has a gallery of sexy images.) But what they have in common is more significant: a hysterical hatred of their political opponents and an ability to say anything to advance their causes (and extremely lucrative careers).
Coulters modus operandi is rhetorical extremity. She was fired from the conservative National Review magazine when, in the wake of 9/11, she urged the invasion of all Muslim nations and the forcible conversion of their citizens to Christianity.
As Brendan Nyhan, the media critic, has documented, her flights of fancy go back a long way. No punches are pulled. Ted Kennedy is an adulterous drunk. President Clinton had crack pipes on the White House Christmas tree. You get the idea.
In Coulters world there are two types of people: conservatives and liberals. These are not groups of people with competing ideas. They are the repositories of good and evil. There are no distinctions among conservatives or among liberals. To admit the complexity of political discourse would immediately require Coulter to think, explain, argue. But why bother when you can earn millions by being insulting? Here are a few comments about liberals that Coulter has deployed over the years: Liberals are fanatical liars. Liberals are devoted to class warfare, ethnic hatred and intolerance. Liberals hate democracy because democracy requires persuasion and compromise rather than brute political force.
Some of this is obvious hyperbole designed for a partisan audience. Some of it could be explained as good, dirty fun. It was this formula that gained her enormous sales for her last book, Slander, which detailed, in sometimes hilarious prose, the liberal bias in much of the American media.
Her latest tome ups the ante even further. If biased liberal editors are busy slandering conservatives, liberals more generally are dedicated to the subversion of their own country. They are guilty of yes treason.
A few nuggets: As a rule of thumb, Democrats opposed anything opposed by their cherished Soviet Union. The Soviet Union did not like the idea of a militarily strong America. Neither did the Democrats! Earlier in the same vein: Whether they are defending the Soviet Union or bleating for Saddam Hussein, liberals are always against America. They are either traitors or idiots, and on the matter of Americas self-preservation, the difference is irrelevant.
And then: The myth of McCarthyism is the greatest Orwellian fraud of our times. Liberals are fanatical liars, then as now. The portrayal of Senator Joe McCarthy as a wild-eyed demagogue destroying innocent lives is sheer liberal hobgoblinism. Liberals werent hiding under the bed during the McCarthy era. They were systematically undermining the nations ability to defend itself, while waging a bellicose campaign of lies to blacken McCarthys name.
Coulter does not seek to complicate her view of liberals with any serious treatment of the many Democrats and liberals who were ferociously anti-communist. Scoop Jackson? Harry Truman? John F Kennedy? Lyndon Vietnam Johnson? She doesnt substantively deal with those Democrats today from Senator Joe Lieberman to The New Republic magazine who were anti-Saddam before many Republicans were.
She is absolutely right to insist that many on the left are in denial about the complicity of some Americans in Soviet evil, the guilt of true traitors such as Alger Hiss or the Rosenbergs, who helped Stalin and his heirs in their murderous pursuits.
Part of the frustration of reading Coulter is that her basic causes are the right ones: the American media truly is biased to the left; some liberals and Democrats were bona fide traitors during the cold war; many on the far left today are essentially anti-American and hope for the defeat of their country in foreign wars.
But by making huge and sweeping generalisations about all liberals, Coulter undermines her own arguments and comes close to making them meaningless. If you condemn good and bad liberals alike, how can you be trusted to make any moral distinctions of any kind? And by defending the tactics of McCarthy, she actually plays directly into the hands of the left.
What she wont concede is that it is possible to be clear-headed about the role that some liberals and Democrats played in supporting the Soviet Union, while reviling the kind of tactics that McCarthy used.
In fact, when liberals taunt conservatives with being McCarthyites, conservatives now have to concede that some of their allies, namely Coulter, obviously are McCarthyites and proud of it.
Ron Radosh, one of the most reputable scholars who has studied the McCarthy era in great detail, is appalled at the damage Coulter has done to the work he and many others have painstakingly done over the years.
I am furious and upset about her book, he told me last week. I am reading it she uses my stuff, Harvey Klehr and John Haynes, Allen Weinstein etc, to distort what we actually say and to make ludicrous and historically incorrect arguments.
You might recall my lengthy and negative review in The New Republic a few years ago of (Arthur) Hermans book on McCarthy; well, she is 10 times worse than Herman. At least he tried to use bona fide historical methods of research and argument.
Radosh has endured ostracism and abuse for insisting that many of McCarthys victims were indeed communist spies or agents. But he draws the line at Coulters crude and inflammatory defence of McCarthy: I think it is important that those who are considered critics of left/liberalism dont stop using our critical faculties when self-proclaimed conservatives start producing crap.
Amen. American politics has been badly damaged by the scruple-free tactics of those like Moore and Coulter. In some ways, of course, these shameless hucksters of ideological hate deserve each other. But America surely deserves better.
Also, Slander: Liberal Lies About the American Right, Crown, 2002.
Also, High Crimes and Misdemeanors: The Case Against Bill Clinton, Regnery, 1998.
Sullivan et al make splash such slanderous smears without citing a single page, paragraph or footnote.
Oh, but it can't be that Andrew didn't bother to read the book.
I think you have a good point. How often do we complain about liberals tossing around adjectives like racist, homophobic, bigoted, class-biased, moron while at the same time cheering when people like Coulter go and do the same with words like treason, liar, moron.
Sullivan goes too far (and he really isn't one to complain when it comes to his rhetoric against people who refuse to say that unnatural behavior is OK) in denouncing Coulter.
There is definitely a place for Coulter in the right's public face but to say that she convinces people is just not true. I have given her book Slander to relatively nonpolitical conservatives who didn't like it because of all the invective she's always using.
Sometimes, I get the impression that she writes as hyperbolically as she does as part of an act. That said, she is a great TV presense because she usually tones down her words and is a quick wit. Ann Coulter is a good defender of conservative causes but she's never said anything original that I've seen. There's a lot better analysts on this forum, IMHO.
But she doesn't make that claim. Her accusaion of treason is against the democrat party as an entity, as she has stated in every interview that I've seen her give to promote "Treason."
She has told every liberal host in every interview that I've seen on this topic who has made the accusation against her that you just made that there have been some democrats who have been patriotic Americans.
She obviously makes generalizations, but I have problems with people who respond to obvious generalizations by insisting that the generalization includes every single individual in a group. There will always be exceptions to rules and everyone knows, or should know, that.
Sullivan is way off base with much of this article. He clearly got this part wrong - if you go back and read the actual quote, Coulter was talking about people who dance and cheer in the streets to celebrate mass murder committed in the name of Islam, not "all Muslim nations". If he can't even get that part right, what chance does he have of getting anything else right? Not a chance...
You can read the article yourself at NRO article: This is War
And I don't think Ann's hyperbole will have the effect predicted here. It will do to liberals what liberals used to do to conservatives by painting them all commie-hunters. There were no conservatives to be found except WFB and Jack Kemp, then finally Rush.
But by making huge and sweeping generalisations about all liberals, Coulter undermines her own arguments and comes close to making them meaningless.
It will have the opposite effect and make liberals sputter and backpedal. It already has sometimes.
It was a mobile of twelve lords a-leaping. They were leaping all right. The ornament consisted of tiny clay male figurines. Each was naked and had a large erection.
Some of the ornaments were silly and some were dangerous, like the crack pipes hung on a string. . . .Some ornaments were constructed out of various drug paraphernalia, like syringes, heroin spoons, or roach clips, which are colorful devices sometimes adorned with bird feathers, and used to hold marijuana joints.
No, I didn't, but he was happy to explain it to me: the golden rings I was holding were sex toys known as "c-ck rings"--and they had nothing to do with chickens.
Here was another five golden rings ornament--five gold-wraped condoms.
Hillary's social secretary, Ann Stock, came down, carefully looked at the tree and its decorations and pronounced it "perfect" and "delightful."
HMMMM....please cite ONE "distorted fact or figure" for us.
Just curious, but where WAS this Clinton Christmas tree story reported?From:
Be nice to have a copy for reference.
Topic: White Water
3/24/1998 David Bonn
(3/24/1998) Gary Aldrich dropped bomb shells about the Clinton administration on a near capacity crowd of nearly 200 people in Atlanta, GA Wednesday night. The event was sponsored by Americans for Lawful Government, a group of citizens which meets twice monthly to "discuss mutual concern about excessive, abusive government and its taxation system."
The author of Unlimited Access reviewed previously published material and underscored some underplayed facts known about the Clinton scandals. Aldrich, who began his service in the White House in 1990, began by rehearsing the basic differences between the Bush and Clinton administration people. He reminded the audience that the most shocking scandalette of the Bush White House was the John Sununu helicopter ride to a stamp show. John Tower, for example, could not be Secretary of Defense because as a single man he dated more than one woman. And Clarence Thomas endured character assasination because of an alleged comment he might have made 10 years prior.
When the Clintons arrived at the White House in 1993, they ushered in a new era [of] deviancy...
-- snip --
...On December 4,1994 Aldrich was invited to decorate the White House Christmas tree. But he found that the ornaments were syringes, condoms, two turtle doves fornicating, a crack pipe, and roach clips. He could not describe what the 12 lords of leaping were doing because of children in the audience...
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