| Ann Coulter Republicans
John Steinberg - Raw Story Columnist
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Manna is now being airlifted into Democratic hands. Will
they have the will to use it?
In an apparent (and successful) attempt to raise the profile
of her new book, Ann Coulter went
Arch-conservative commentator Ann Coulter likes to shock, but
she turned stunningly malicious in her new book "Godless: The Church of
Liberalism." She referred in it to four outspoken widows whose husbands
were killed in the 9/11 attacks as "self-obsessed women" and
"witches" who are taking pleasure in their husbands' deaths.
The widows, all from New Jersey, had gained attention for pressing the Bush
administration to establish the 9/11 commission - an achievement that
apparently rubbed Ms. Coulter the wrong way.
The author, who is on tour promoting her book, wrote:
"And by the way, how do we know their husbands weren't planning to divorce
And lest you think that this sawed-off shotgun of a human being backed off
after seeing the damage
At her appearance at the Book Revue in Huntington, the rail-thin blonde was unapologetic.
"No, I won't apologize. Yes, the 9/11 widows
are witches and harpies," she said.
Raw Story readers will most likely know that Ann Coulter has
been the far right's designated brawler for some time. She's the one who
called Max Cleland "lucky."
Who said that John
Walker Lindh should
be executed "in order to physically intimidate liberals, by making them
realize that they can be killed too." The one who said "My only regret with Timothy
McVeigh is he did not go to the New York Times Building." The one who said
"We need somebody to put rat poisoning in Justice Stevens' creme brulee." The one who said
that Congressman John Murtha was "the reason soldiers invented
When Michael Moore had the gall to confront Americans with
the footage of our deer-in-the-headlights 9/11 President in 2004, Republicans were
quick to force Democrats to distance themselves from such blasphemy. They savaged
Moore Democrats" all who would not disown him. That cleft has contributed
to the alienation of the grass roots of the party from those who chose
respectability over populism.
In the fetid, malodorous bog that is the Republican
ecosystem, in contrast, Coulter has found a warm, comfortable home. That place
is as the basso profano in the tragicomic conservative opera buffa
- the villain who gives voice to the evil the others feel but dare not speak.
Coulter has completely adapted to the feedback loop that characterizes her
surroundings: the more outrageous her rhetoric, the more media attention she
gets. The more attention she gets, the more books she sells, and the more she
gets paid for her lecture tour appearances, and so on. A "godless" Darwinian
process has thus prevailed: survival of the foulest.
Republicans (as well as their Stockholm-Syndromed
counterparts in the press and the Democratic establishment) refer to the left
blogosphere as a "fever
swamp," yet the sulfurous venom that spews from Coulter's orifice creates
nary a peep of Republican unease. Neither Universal
Press Syndicate nor a single newspaper has dropped her syndicated toxin.
And why should they? She sells papers, and blogospheric outrage is but a
distant thunder for them.
Coulter's ascendance is a manifestation of a deep and
serious problem that has been building for many years. Republicans have been
extraordinarily successful in casting large swaths of the Democratic loyalists as
lepers. Democratic leaders have largely concurred in that diagnosis, and have
been running away from their own supporters for more than a decade. As Stanford
linguist Geoffrey Nunberg recently pointed
out, the Democrats are so cowed they have acquiesced in the demonization of
the word "liberal," which now battles for lead pariah status with the dread acronym
"ACLU." In short, the greedy, venal wing of the Democratic Party has been cut
loose from its only source of strength and differentiation from the greedy
venal wing of the Republican Party. The cleavage has been devastatingly
effective. Yet no serious attempt has been made to create a similar schism
between fringe Republicans and those who stress fitness for polite company.
If the pundit-class Democrats were waiting for an engraved
invitation to that party, it just arrived.
The question, "Are you an Ann Coulter Republican?" should
confront every Republican running for every office in the land, from President
to dog catcher. Every Democratic candidate should accuse his or her opponent of
being in favor of poisoning Supreme Court Justices and killing Congressmen. At
every opportunity, every Republican should be made to answer: "Do you agree
with Ann Coulter that the 9/11 widows are witches and harpies?" And George W.
Bush, Tony Snow, Dick Cheney, Laura Bush and Barney (the only lapdog with a
good excuse) should be confronted with these questions as well.
Republicans have been able to maintain a Kabuki symbiosis
with all manner of cave-dwellers by speaking in an elaborate, dog
whistle-like code. They hold racists, homophobes and rapture acolytes
close enough to keep their votes without ever having to either publicly embrace
or disavow such extreme viewpoints. That relationship with white-sheet America has been essential to their electoral strategy for decades.
But Ann Coulter has furnished us with a turn-key solution. We
can now easily put them in the logical fork they should have been
forced into years ago: disavow Coulter's vile, sub-human ravings, or embrace
them. If they distance themselves from her, they risk alienating the mouth-breathers
who demand such red meat as the price of their loyalty. If they embrace her,
they lose significant swaths of the middle - the decent folks who are the
reason Republicans talk about Dred Scott and "state's rights" rather than criminalizing
abortion and gutting civil rights laws.
Which chess piece will Republicans sacrifice? I suspect it
will vary. New York Governor George Pataki is one of the few Republicans to come out against
Coulter, but that's a freebee - 9/11 happened in his state, and he appears to
have no higher ambitions. Deep southerners in local races will probably embrace
her. But what will John McCain do? I
don't see how he can answer that question and still become President. Rudy
Giuliani? He has already shown he'd rather
run into a burning building. Bill Frist would prefer to declare himself
to be in a persistent vegetative state. The list of high-profile Republicans
desperate not to confront the Coulter question is very long.
Many lefties wonder why we give Coulter the prominence she
so clearly craves. They think we lose by raising her profile. But I think she
is exactly the hate-contorted face we want on the Republican Party. We need to make
Ann Coulter the third rail of Republican politics, just as Michael Moore was
for Democrats two years ago. (They can be equally significant as symbols; there
is obviously no comparison in talent or accuracy.)
How will the Republicans choose? It matters little, so long
as we force them to go one way or the other. Humanity lines up against her.
But if they prefer to align with her, perhaps we can finally have an honest
confrontation between an unmasked, rabid radical right and the rest of us.
John Steinberg is a Senior Recidivist with the Poor Man
Institute for Freedom and Democracy and a Pony. He bloviates regularly @ www.bluememe.blogspot.com.
Originally published on Thursday June 22, 2006.