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Friday, October 12, 2007

Ann Coulter, Test Pilot

So, Al Gore and the Intergovernmental Panel on Climate Change won the Nobel Peace Prize. Good for them. But, after winning an Best Documentary Oscar for his film An Inconvenient Truth, you've got to wonder if he's rubbing our noses in what might've been. The Supreme Court stuck us with the dope and gave the smart guy to the world. Our loss, everyone else's gain, I guess.

For those holding your breath, waiting for Al to jump in the presidential race, breath. Gore's spokesperson is telling everyone who'll listen (and who won't?) that Gore "has no intention of running for President in 2008." Too bad, there'd be a certain amount of "in your face!" to a Gore presidency -- the man rejected by an undemocratic court order would be cleaning up all the messes the made by moron that court installed. But I can see the reasoning behind Gore's decision -- let someone else take the job of Historical Janitor, he's got things to do. That doesn't mean that Al's out of the running for anything at the White House -- he'd be an excellent choice for Secretary of State or Ambassador to the UN. The man has a global rep. And he's much more likely to accept either. You can quit those if you want. The President's pretty much stuck with the job.

I didn't mean this post to be about Gore, but I just couldn't let the occasion slide without comment. Especially since I'm about to dive into the swamp. Call it one last breath, before I go under.

And deep under here, toward the bottom of the swamp, is our subject -- Ann Coulter.

Editor and Publisher:

Appearing on Donny Deutsch's CNBC show, "The Big Idea," on Monday night, columnist/author Ann Coulter suggested that the U.S. would be a better place if there weren't any Jewish people and that they needed to "perfect" themselves into -- Christians.

It led Deutsch to suggest that surely she couldn't mean that, and when she insisted she did, he said this sounded "anti-Semitic."

Asked by Deutsch whether she wanted to be like "the head of Iran" and "wipe Israel off the Earth," Coulter stated: "No, we just want Jews to be perfected, as they say... That's what Christianity is. We believe the Old Testament."

The bad news is that Ann Coulter is still busy being Ann Coulter. The good news is that you can now refer to Ann as a nazi without someone calling Godwin's law on you.

I hate to throw another editorial dead end at you, but Ann's bona fides as a fascist isn't the purpose of this post either. I've got a theory about Ann Coulter that came to me last night. My theory is that she serves a purpose in the right wing pundit world and that purpose is as a test pilot for really offensive talking points.

For a long time, I thought Coulter was a jerk because it sold books. I've never bought that she really believes half the BS she spews, mostly because it's all negative. She never talks about any ideas, other than to dismiss ideas she doesn't like. She doesn't talk about the things she thinks should be done -- her rhetoric is entirely reductive -- she only talks about what shouldn't. What people shouldn't do or be allowed to do, what people shouldn't be or be allowed to be, that's Ann Coulter's area. When she does talk about things that she thinks should happen, it's always some sort of punishment for doing or being something that you shouldn't be allowed to.

If her strategy is to be the biggest ass on Earth to make money, it's hard to see how that strategy is supposed to pay off. Every time she says something stupid like this, she loses markets for her syndicated column. When she publishes a book, it's always a best seller, but the kind of books she writes have a shelf-life. No one's going to read Godless ten years from now. In fact, it's doubtful that it'll have many sales next year. Writing about current events doesn't pay much in the long term; you cash in and cash out within a year or two.

On the other hand, having a syndicated column in a lot of markets is a reliable, steady income. If it were all about money, she'd protect that income and treat the occasional book money as the gravy. That, after all, would be the cautious and conservative approach.

No, I'm guessing that Coulter's a GOP true believer. She's found that, no matter what she says and no matter how big of an ass she makes of herself, she never gets kicked out of the pundit club. So why not take advantage of that? Why not try out really offensive spin for other people who don't seem to enjoy her brand of immunity?

When they reported on Ann's spew at Editor and Publisher, people wrote in. For the most part, the reactions were measured, reasonable, and understanding; Ann's a freakin' nazi and should be fired -- from a cannon, into space. But one was "Yay Ann!"

I don't understand why trying to convert someone to a religion is looked on as hateful. Is it not fair to say then that Jews are anti-christian by stating that Jesus was a liar or a falsity?

I think having an opinion that someones faith is misguided should not be construed as hate speech. This is a complete over reaction.

She doesn't care that one person thought she "should not be allowed on television, in print or in the bookstores." She doesn't care that another hopes "she receives the same kind of treatment from the press that Don Imus received for his racist comments" and the "Christian Right quickly dis-associates themselves from her." She survived calling John Edwards a "faggot," she'll survive this. What she wants is to hear an echo. She wants to inoculate other pundits, so they can say the same thing. The only difference is that they'd put it more diplomatically and, like the letter-writer, would make that offensive point seem less offensive.

I'm not just pulling this stuff out of my butt; I've got an example. In her 2006 book, Godless, Coulter wrote about the "Jersey Girls," a group of women widowed on 9/11 who were critical of Bush and his dodging of investigations into the terrorist attacks. "These broads are millionaires, lionized on TV and in articles about them, reveling in their status as celebrities and stalked by grief-arazzis," she said. "I've never seen people enjoying their husbands' deaths so much."

Offensive as all hell, right? Not so much when you put it another way, which everyone and their brother on the right did. When interviewed by Matt Lauer on NBC's Today show, she expanded on that theme and that theme was taken up by other wingers.

Media Matters:

Pressed by Lauer to defend her statement that the widows were "enjoying their husbands' deaths," Coulter responded: "Yes, they're all over the news." She criticized the widows for "speak[ing] out using the fact that they're widows" and "using their grief" and "the fact that you lost a husband" to make "a political point while preventing anyone from responding." She further argued that "the Left" exploits a "doctrine of infallibility," and that "[i]f they have a point to make about the 9-11 Commission, about how to fight the war on terrorism," they "put[] up Cindy Sheehan ... put[] out these widows." As a result, Coulter said, conservatives "always have to respond to someone who just had a family member die" and appear to be "questioning the authenticity of the grief."

That was June 6, 2006. On the June 7 edition of FOX's The O'Reilly Factor, FOX contributor Sandy Rios said Coulter's "words are laser-focused on the truth." She said that just because the women "lost their husbands in an accidental bombing... does not give them license to then criticize the commander in chief." Never mind that just being an American gives you license to criticize the commander in chief. Democrats were now hiding behind the skirts of widows.

That same day, on MSNBC's Scarborough Country, Republican strategist Jack Burkman also echoed Coulter and may be the only person in history to say that Ann Coulter "understates the point." "[B]efore the bodies are cold, they're out selling and trying to make money," he said.

So now it's cool to attack victims. Ann had paved the way for a smear attack on anyone and everyone, including 12-year old Graeme Frost, who I posted about yesterday.

It doesn't always work -- I refer you back to John Edwards and the "faggot" comment. I'm guessing this new right wing anti-semitism won't work either. But it's clear that it's what the religious right believes. Remember how they used to talk about the US being based on "judeochristian principles?" You don't hear that anymore, do you? No. The US is now a "Christian nation" -- the Jews can go screw themselves. Ann Coulter wants the issue of whether Jews have the right to be Jews -- or if anyone other than a Christian has the right to be anything other than a Jesus Lovin' Baptist -- to be a legitimate point of debate.

If the "perfected Jew" thing doesn't fly, test pilot Ann will just take similar talking point for a spin later -- maybe some BS about "Christian Missions of Redemption" or something. It'll be the same thing in different package.

And when she hits that sweetspot and the contraption gets in the air, expect just about everyone on the right to take off behind her.


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