If you haven’t read Michelle Malkin’s odd, rambling response to Ezra Klein’s debate challenge, it’s well worth the price of admission. Not so much for the substance, but for the sheer rage dripping from it. It’s also interesting from a psychological perspective. In fact, Malkin's response distinguishes her in interesting ways from Ann Coulter, who tends to get (wrongly) lumped together with Malkin in people’s minds. But Coulter is actually far more interesting, even if her writing is substantively more objectionable.
I’m obviously speculating, but I think Coulter is essentially an act. She’s extreme, sure. What she says is abhorrent, agreed. But I think she’s carved out a niche for herself where her interests aren’t necessarily aligned with the conservative movement. She’s a self-promoting outrage artist -- her goal is not to promote an agenda but to stoke the fires. For instance, I have no doubt she was nothing but ecstatic about the public reception to her Edwards comments.
The point is that when Coulter sits at home at night, I suspect she conceives of herself as an entertainer. A shock-artist, sure -- and someone who is deliberately offensive. But, an entertainer nonetheless. And more to the point, she knows what she’s doing. She’s fully in control.
Malkin, on the other hand, is a completely different animal. On some level, she fancies herself a serious, populist, investigative journalist. Her ambition is much greater than Coulter’s. For instance, she’s traveled to Iraq. She drives out to see the Frosts' house. She wants to break and advance stories like Rathergate, Beauchamp, etc.
Kevin Drum made the very astute point that the whole SCHIP uproar was not merely the rotten core surfacing, but was an attempt to relive the glory days of Rathergate. That was their moment -- the formula they use to obtain maximum glory. And that’s what Malkin wanted to accomplish. She desperately wanted to break news; to shame the hated press; to defeat those awful Dems.
Unlike Coulter, Malkin is on board with the movement. She’s a true believer. And she believes in herself as well -- she (subjectively) sees herself as having journalistic integrity, dedication to facts, etc. That’s why she’s gone off the deep end with this SCHIP stuff. The pushback has touched a nerve and it’s clearly getting to her. If Malkin only cared about stirring up outrage, she wouldn’t be this upset.
Coulter, by contrast, is smarter and far smoother. She couldn’t care less about any pushback -- she wants the pushback. That’s why it’s rarer to see Coulter engage in defensive, rage-filled rambling. Attacks don’t make her mad -- even if she’s factually wrong. She’s not a believer in the cause, or her journalistic integrity -- she’s an entertainer. Malkin, however, does care on some level. She craves to be respected. And she knows on some level that she’s been knocked down on the canvas -- and she’s deeply embarrassed. But, she’s decided to double down rather than acknowledge the mistake and move on to other battles. It’s as if she were the commander-in-chief or something.