Tuesday, June 06, 2006

Idiot Ann Coulter

I really don't like Ann Coulter. Part of it is that she has a voice that reminds me of chalk squeeking on a chalkboard -- every time I hear her voice, shivers go up my spine.

The main reason that I don't like her is because she is so symbolic of what is wrong with political discourse today. She does not know how to argue, and generally resorts to ad hominem attacks.

This morning, she was interviewed on the "Today Show" about her new book "Godless" -- another screed attacking liberals. In the book, she makes a number of claims, but two stand out. First, liberals "celebrate" abortions. Second, about the widows of 9/11 victims -- who dared criticize the Bush administration -- she has never seen women "enjoying their husbands' deaths so much."

I won't even waste my time trying to refute her outrageous comments -- that's self-evident. But, it is stark reminder of the times we live in that loony bombthrowers such as Coulter are paid attention to at all in the media, let alone given any type of credibility.

7 Comments:

Blogger miss e. said...

ha, as i was going to your page, i was wondering, "i wonder if he's got anything to say about ann coulter!" i think she was a geek in high school.

8:39 PM  
Blogger dscar said...

Personally, I find her rather amusing. Sometimes it's even when she intends to be. However, in this case, I think she's absolutely right.

I saw the Today show clip (thanks YouTube!) and was actually impressed that Lauer was able to keep up a full-court press with her. However, I think she actually won that debate?

Why? Because there *has been* a tendency for liberal spokespeople of late to be placed into the middle of the fray who have no qualifications for being there save for the fact that they are immune to any serious scrutiny.

Look at the top three candidates (and I haven't even read her book Godless, so as a non-Christian, non-religious Libertarian I'm not quite in her core audience):

The Jersey Girls. The main topic of conversation for Coulter. Lauer seemed focused on whether or not they should be allowed to speak out about the government, which wasn't the point. Coulter's point was that they shouldn't be placed as a shield in front of any criticism for merely having been widowed. It's the intellectual equivalent of hiding beyind your mother's skirt, and the liberal mindset has been embracing it too much.

Michael Berg. The father of Nick Berg, beheaded by the Butcher of Bagdad Al Zawqari himself, likens Bush to the devil but when Al Zawqari is taken out he feels no justice? "I don't think that Zarqawi is himself responsible for the killings of hundreds of thousands of people in Iraq. I think George Bush is." What?!? This is a man who filmed a snuff film of Berg's own son, and all he has to say about it is "I have no sense of relief, just sadness that another human being had to die."

Cindy Sheehan. Saving the best for last, this woman is a complete nutjob. However, she ties herself to a fencepost in Texas, lies about being ignored by Bush when she had an audience with him a year previous, and actually started to believe her own bullshit.

The common thread through all of this is that this pathos has been wholly substituted for ethos, and it appears that Ann actually says what has been on a lot of people's minds. Once people start listening to the likes of the Jersey Girls, Berg, and Sheehan to the point where they are being taken seriously because there's no counter-arguments to their points, enough is enough.

At one point Lauer and Coulter get into this dissection of metacommunication:

Coulter (paraphrasing from memory): Don't put someone up there that we can't respond to.

Lauer: But you did respond to them

Coulter: Yes, I did.

What drove me crazy was that she didn't follow up with, "And look how you're responding! You're proving my point!"

The very fact that Ann was on the show was because Lauer & Co. were shocked and appalled that Coulter would criticize grieving widows, which is what she was responding against!

In other words, if Coulter hadn't been right, and was in fact way off base, Lauer would not have seen a need to challenge her on it. If Coulter was wrong, that these people weren't put on a pedestal, it would have been an entirely different line of questioning.

2:34 AM  
Blogger Rod Carveth said...

dscar,

Ann Coulter was on the "Today Show" because she was trying to sell books. The motivation for Lauer and Co. was not just to talk to her about her comments about the "Jersey Girls", but about a range of political issues (given that the exchange over the "Jersey Girls" did not take place until about 4:30 into the interview).

Two major problems with Coulter. One is that she is intellectually dishonest. If she is going to criticize the "Jersey Girls", then why not criticize the Schiavo family, who was using their personal tragedy to advance their own personal agenda (which was not even about politics, but about money).

Second, the comments about the "Jersey Girls" go way beyond whatever point she was trying to make (which is way overstated anyway). Her insinuations that the "harpies" were going to be divorced by their husbands and that they should appear in Playboy before their window of fame was up were comments way, way out of bounds. In addition, on Hannity and Colmes, she stated that she did not think that they would give up the millions of dollars they recieved or the fame in order to get their husbands back. Those kinds of comments are beyond cruel.

She's going to have another bestseller with her cynical use of rhetorical bombs. But, someday, this alleged Christian is going to have to answer to a higher authority. Let's see if that authority is impressed with her "wit."

10:32 AM  
Blogger dscar said...

Well, I can't speak about what she didn't say on the Today show, because I can only see clips of the shows (since I live in England :) when they become available. H&C, for instance, is beyond my media reach at the moment.

Regarding the Schiavo's, I agree with you completely on that account. Coulter's articles demonizing Michael Schiavo were infuriating because they were so patently offensive to my own sensitivities.

The first part of the interview (since you mention that the Jersey Girls don't come into it until 4:30 into the interview) was devoted to Lauer attempting to call Coulter into account for Bush's administration.

The point that Lauer was making about Gay Marriage and how it's completely pointless was adequately challenged by Coulter's pointing out the number of states that have marriage far exceeded the amount he won re-election.

Nevertheless, Lauer's focus was on making Coulter accountable for Bush's actions. To these attacks, she held her own quite well.

Once they got to the books, and to the Jersey Girls in particular, however, having not read the book (and assuming that the references you are making come from that text, as I don't recall them coming from the Today show clip), it's completely aligned with her track record to say such things.

In this case, though, I'm not sure it's unwarranted. The behavior of these women have been atrocious at best, self-aggrandizing and profiteering at worst. Regardless of how the Schiavos acted or Coulter's response to *them*, it doesn't make her reaction to these 'harpies' (to use your terms) any less appropriate.

Would they have been divorced? Who knows, and who cares? To bring up such a point is to hold a degree of civility that the Jersey Girls don't apply even to themselves. Why should anyone else?

These women do not care about their husbands deaths. If you listen to the things they say, none of it is about their husbands aside from the establishment of an unassailable ethos. The vitriol they spit out uses their widowhood as a high ground of defense, not a foundation of emotional strength (which is what they pretend to convey).

In this particular point, Coulter is right. There is absolutely nothing more sinister than to hide behind an inviolate cultural taboo in order to push a personal agenda.

The danger is that once that taboo is broken (as Coulter has rightfully done), then we cease respecting those emotions. We cease providing a haven for those who are lashing out in grief and who might be saying things based not in logic but in spontaneous emotional heat.

It is the ultimate political "cry wolf."

I'm not saying that Coulter is always right. I disagree with her overall sentiment against non-Christians (obviously). I disagree with her stance on Schiavo. I disagree with her stance on abortion. That doesn't mean that she isn't right in this case.

5:03 PM  
Blogger Rod Carveth said...

dscar,

Every American has the right to enter the political debate — for any reason. The "Jersey Girls" and the Schiavos have the same right as any American to join in the political debate. I will agree with you and Coulter that they do not possess a *special right* to do so. While their experiences may give them a unique (in the sense that no one else can possess that particular experience) understanding of the issues involved, they do not enjoy any more rights to influence the public than anyone else. And, once in the debate, their arguments are subject to the same scrutiny as any other in the public sphere.

Where I disagree with you is this. You state:

"There is absolutely nothing more sinister than to hide behind an inviolate cultural taboo in order to push a personal agenda."

I disagree. What is more sinister is for someone like Coulter, instead of arguing against the position that the "Jersey Girls" make, resorts to the following:

"These broads are millionaires, lionized on TV and in articles about them, reveling in their status as celebrities and stalked by grief-arazzis. I've never seen people enjoying their husbands' deaths so much. And by the way, how do we know their husbands weren't planning to divorce these harpies? Now that their shelf life is dwindling, they'd better hurry up and appear in Playboy."

Coulter could easily criticize the ideas of the "Jersey Girls" without belittling their pain. She chooses not to. Rather, she
rants on about these women profited from their loss.

Yet, Coulter is attempting to do the same thing -- profit from the loss suffered by these women. The difference is that the "Jersey Girls" were motivated by their pain at losing their husbands. Coulter is merely motivated by greed.

That's sinister!

12:35 PM  
Blogger dscar said...

rod,

No one is saying that Coulter isn't a mistress of controversy.

I think, though, that the Jersey Girls definitely have deserved some harsh criticism in response to their behavior as well. I'm not sure Coulter is off-base when she says that they have been enjoying the fame that has come with their husband's deaths.

I don't know how much money they've made, so I can't comment on that. Quite frankly, I don't care how much money the 'Girls have made or how much Coulter has made.

If someone is willing to give either one of them money then that's a choice between buyer and seller. I don't think that part is sinister at all.

I do think, however, that the Jersey Girls' behavior is sinister because there are still lives on the line. I do believe that people like these women use that emotional stance in order to motivate people to simply hate Bush.

They have no logical leg to stand on. They have no real credibility. All they have is their pain. And they're making life difficult for those Americans who are still in harm's way because it prolongues the attacks against Americans. The people who hate us use the comments from the Jersey Girls to hammer away at us, not just on the battlefield but in the court of public opinion outside the US.

As someone who lives outside the US and has to put up with the bullshit comments of ignorant people who use the Jersey Girls (or the Dixie Twits) as supporting evidence, I can tell you it makes my life more difficult.

10:34 AM  
Blogger Rod Carveth said...

dscar,

Your argument is beginning to confuse two issues. The first has to do with Coulter's comments on the "Jersey Girls". I continue to maintain that Coulter was out of bounds for saying that. For one thing, the other side in the 9/11 debate also had individuals advocating for them whose "credibility" was established as being "victims" of 9/11 -- Debra Burlingame, whose brother died in 9/11, campaigned for the Bush-Cheney ticket, and Ashley Faulkner (10 years old!) who lost her father, was featured in a Bush-Cheney ad.

Secondly, Coulter could have made her argument without resorting to the ad hominem fallacy.

The second part of your argument has to do with whether commenting against the Bush administration policy prolongs the danger for our troops in Iraq -- those in harm's way. I get really nervous when people argue that dissent gives aid and comfort to the enemy, which has been a long time Administration refrain, starting with former Attorney General Ashcroft.

You and I disagree about our involvement in Iraq. Our "chicken hawk" administration failed to heed the advice of the one military man they had -- Colin Powell -- who warned them about the "you break it, you buy it" nature of invading Iraq. Now we have spent between a quarter and a half a trillion dollars, and suffered 2500 troop deaths and nearly 20,000 wounded. In return, there is an incredibly fragile Iraqi government whose weak infrastructure before our invasion is further damaged. We have no choice to but to stay in there because the alternative is worse.

But, I ask myself -- what if those resources that we have spent in Iraq had been devoted to rooting out Al Quaeda across the world -- all the while building up our human intelligence and not destroying our standing among our allies?

Maybe then your life would not have been so difficult.

5:17 AM  

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