One robin does not make a spring, and one incident of over-the-top vituperation that is roundly denounced, even by people on the same team, does not yet indicate a shift in sentiment. But we can hope a little.
Yesterday I wrote a post on the anger of the right. By happenstance, it was shortly after Ann Coulter’s characterization of John Edwards as a “faggot”. Apparently that was finally going too far. Even MarketWatch, not exactly the most politically minded news outlet, felt compelled to denounce her (and the piece by Jon Friedman, “Ann Coulter’s the Paris Hilton of political coverage” is well done).
When I read that comment, I actually started pondering as to how one might respond to it. Jon Stewart could do it vastly better, but the high concept was to suggest that if what Coulter said was true, here we have in Edwards the conservative Christian model of the perfect faggot, someone who had overcome his homosexual impulses and was successfully living with a wife and children, and despite intense press interest, had never been caught in a leather bar. How dare she renounce such a shining example of reformed faggotry?
So I basically came to the same conclusion as Friedman. You can’t treat these people seriously. But it might be more fun, and more effective, to take their kookiness at face value and see where you can go with it.
Ann Coulter, the raging right-wing author, has become the Paris Hilton of political coverage. Even among her most rabid red-state fans, she has become a cartoon character — and journalists should treat her like one.
It’s no longer enough for journalists to shake their heads in amazement at her most recent verbal atrocity. Since Coulter’s already a bad joke, why not depict her wearing a dunce cap? Her quotes could begin to appear in a special section called “Coulter’s Latest Stupid Comment.”
Hilton will do anything to appear on gossip venues, like Page Six or Gawker, as a way to stay in the news and burnish her hard-earned rep as America’s most outrageous party girl. Likewise, Coulter will do anything to enhance her dubious image as America’s most outrageous pundit. The more we rip her, the more her books sell and the prices for her speeches go up.
It wasn’t nearly enough for Coulter to mock the Sept. 11 widows. (Her previous low-water mark at desperately trying to steal attention from serious people.) Last week, she felt compelled basically to call presidential candidate John Edwards — a Democrat, of course — a “faggot” at the Conservative Political Action Conference.
Edwards’ team called the comment “a shameless act of bigotry.” Representatives for Republican candidates John McCain, Rudy Giuliani and Mitt Romney distanced themselves far from Coulter’s sensibility.
As Slate columnist Jack Shafer pointed out Monday (relying on a file from the Washington Monthly), Coulter has a long history of mocking Bill Clinton, welfare recipients and Vietnam veterans, among others.
She went too far this time. Coulter already is regarded as being foolish; I suspect that she’d love to be considered outright dangerous. But she is too goofy to accomplish that goal. She’s in danger of becoming obsolete, the most cutting description of all.
The subhead to Shafer’s column in Slate was, “Why the press can’t ignore her.” I disagree: We can ignore her. We should ignore her. What possible value does Coulter contribute to any reasonable discussion? The Associated Press imposed a ban on Paris Hilton “news” last month, lifting it when she was stopped by police for driving with a suspended license.
Coulter is not only boorish; she is also out of touch. As someone who professes to understand national politics, she should’ve understood that the November 2006 elections underscored the changing times in the United States.
As the countdown to 2008 goes on, political commentators who want air time should heed the lesson of Coulter. The media seem to grasp that Americans no longer seem to want red-meat candidates at all costs.
The more we rip Coulter, the more her books sell and the prices for her speeches go up….Yes, I know — I’m playing Coulter’s little game simply by writing this column. I’m giving her more attention.