Reading Coulter Out
In 1957, Whittaker Chambers published a scathing review of Ayn Rand’s Atlas Shrugged. Many people believe that the review read Rand out of the conservative movement.
I have not read Atlas Shrugged (though I do intend to do so), so I cannot declare Chambers right or wrong to write Rand out of mainstream conservatism. However, someone really should do a Chambers on Ann Coulter. She may have been useful at one time, but she has clearly jumped the shark. She is doing more damage to the conservative movement than Ayn Rand could ever have, even in Whittaker Chambers’ worst nightmares.
I confess that I enjoyed Slander, which was a valuable exposé of the leftwing media. Treason was interesting—she presented some interesting facts, and did some good work on the Whittaker Chambers case. Unfortunately, she bought into the bewildering conservative myth that Joe McCarthy was something other than an eccentric, self-destructive idiot. (If you disagree, consider how many Communists he actually found. I believe that the answer is: one).
Furthermore, Coulter, in her choice of title, falls prey to the common fallacy is the assumption that you can infer subjective intention from objective consequence. For example, since we lost China to the Communists, therefore the President of the United States and the Secretary of State wished China to go to the Communists. (And if it sounds like that is something that William F. Buckley would have written, it is because it is indeed something Buckley wrote). Coulter thinks that if liberal policies produce bad results, then one can conclude that those results were intentional, hence the “treason” accusations. Hopefully, you can see the glaring flaws in this argument.
Still, Treason had some points of merit, and so was not altogether worthless. Godless, although it contained an absurd chapter that attacked the well-established theory of evolution, was extremely funny. But recently, Coulter has transformed herself into a conservative version of Howard Stern.
She has had her share of controversial actions over the years. She was fired from National Review after her rather silly “invade their countries, kill their leaders, and convert them to Christianity” comment, and has engaged in a one-way feud with the magazine ever since. She often refers to Muslims as “ragheads,” called John Edwards a “faggot,” seemingly only to cause controversy, and published a bizarre book (If Democrats Had Any Brains, They’d Be Republicans) that is simply a collection of sophomoric insults.
Any of those may be forgiven individually, but collectively, they start to make Ann Coulter seem a little deranged. And her hysterical attacks on John McCain seem to support that conclusion.
I can sympathize with those conservatives who would not vote for McCain. Most of these people make reasonable, irrefutable criticisms of the Arizona Senator. Coulter’s attacks, however, are ridiculous. It is as if she cannot calm down and make an unruffled, logical attack on someone. Instead, she has to scatter dozens of crazy charges. (I would say McCarthyite charges, but Coulter would probably take it as a compliment).
Coulter has claimed that she would vote for Hillary before she would vote for McCain. She has further declared that Hillary is the most conservative candidate in the race. It is literally impossible to reply to that—it is like arguing with one who believes that 9/11 is an inside job. She is impervious to logic.
Coulter seems addicted to shocking people. Her books have displayed a steady decline in judgment—she has gone from her excellent Slander, to her absurdly titled Treason, to her humorous but empty Godless, to her latest screed, If Democrats Had Any Brains, They’d Be Republicans. Her performances during the course of the 2008 campaign seem designed only to scandalize.
Doug Adams speculates that Coulter shocks in order to sell books and get lucrative speaking engagements. Certainly, her antics serve to drive sales, and her speaking engagements are always sold out. I cannot judge Coulter’s motivations, and perhaps she simply enjoys the outraged reaction she gets from the left. But it is clear that to Ann Coulter, the good of conservatism now takes second place.
If I am lucky, maybe ten people will read this post. I don’t have anywhere near the influence necessary to read Coulter out of the conservative movement. But somebody should. She is becoming an embarrassment.