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June 26, 2007

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I have to say that I didn't even make it this far into the interview. I saw five seconds where she said that the 20% of American people who still think we found WMDs in Iraq were correct because we found some. Somewhere. Just not any stockpiles. So clearly that is what those people think. I then made the mistake of flipping back later when she was defending Cheney and noting that his argument is interesting and clever and she hadn't studied the issue so she couldn't say whether it was correct, but that it wasn't crazy. She really is the only commentator who makes me fight the urge to punch the TV. Even Rush doesn't drive me nuts like that. She just leaves me speechless.

I'm probably the last person left on dial-up, but if there's one other out there, to whom video is equally problematic, and who doesn't want to tie up their access for an hour to find out what this is about, there's a transcript here.

Anne Coulter's continuing ability to get time on mainstream T.V. amazes me.

Another classic Coulter comeuppance moment.

I wish I could agree with the leading post, but I had the sinking feeling that, in her own sick terms, Coulter came out on top. In part that's because Edwards had the disadvantage of talking over a phone, and the bitch Coulter was able to talk over herh . But the main thing was that the essence of Edwards' comments was, Coulter says mean things.

I think she should have thrown Coulter's poison right in her face, like so: You said that you wanted my husband to be killed by terrorists. You made a joke out of my child's death. Explain to us all how those are "jokes". Screw complaining about Coulter "debasing our discourse" -- the bitch knows it, and she thrives on it. The thing to do is highlight her own hateful words, and make her own them. And frankly, I would've ripped Matthews a new asshole, too, for being such an oily little media whore.

Without straying into the topic of GW tonight (bedtime for me):

I’m ashamed to say that Coulter is on “my side”. I usually cringe when she opens her mouth.

EE is a class act.

No but, however, or except…

Class act. Full stop.

OT: Here's the sort of post that makes me just love blogs: The Egyptian Society for the Promotion of Special Mustaches. With picture.

Yee haw!

I really think Andrew Olmsted should try to join up: who knows, it could win the war.

I'm probably the last person left on dial-up, but if there's one other out there, to whom video is equally problematic, and who doesn't want to tie up their access for an hour to find out what this is about, there's a transcript here.

Thank you, Gary. I hate it when people provide links to videos only, no transcript. I'm on broadband, but I prefer to read the transcript of a videoclip - which I can do much faster than watching it - and then decide if it's worth the time it will take to watch it.

So: thank you.

Not dismissing your concerns, Jes, and with full appreciation to Gary linking the transcript, but unfortunately, for this, a transcript doesn't really get what is happening across. A lot of overlapping conversation and the Coulterian tics of flipping her hair, along with the suppressed anger of Edwards, makes the transcript in this case quite a distance from the actual confrontation.

I just saw this today. Coulter lamely insinuates that Obama is a terrorist. And Hannity then has a moment that feels -- honest to God -- like an SNL spoof of Sean Hannity, insinuating that Obama is a black separatist.

Just amazingly, they cut to Hannity shouting down Obama's pastor and just telling him he's a black separatist. That's all.

The problem with Coulter is that people don't go for her throat, which they should. She called the 9-11 widows shrews who enjoyed their husbands' deaths. People need to simply shame her and the people who still pay attention to her. These are people motivated by the most visceral emotion they are made to feel. For such people, Edwards -- the softer-spoken one -- lost the argument against the tougher Coulter.

Let's keep Coulter's emotional maturity in perspective. Coulter is the sort of person who finds calling John Edwards and Al Gore fags to be riotously funny. What adults do you know who find such things riotously funny?

If the Ilsa series of movies should get another sequel, I'd know the perfect person to take the title role. What about Ilsa - Banshee of the GOP?

Isn't it wonderful that Coulter admitted -- not even tacitly, but outright -- that she cannot speak or write without attacking people personally? ("I want you to stop with the personal attacks." "Uh, OK, I'll stop writing books.")

I'm not advocating anything, but in a just world, this smirking know-nothing, who quite literally adds nothing positive at all to discourse or society at home or abroad, would be living alone in a cold-water flat struggling to make it on whatever she could panhandle each day.

And a political-reporting media that took its responsibilities seriously would not book this woman to clean the floors let alone share airtime.

lj: but unfortunately, for this, a transcript doesn't really get what is happening across.

1. If I read the transcript, then whether or not I watch the video, I do have at least some idea of what happened that everyone's talking about, instead of none. 2. If I read the transcript, I have information to help me decide if I want to watch the video, whereas if all I have is a Youtube still, I don't. 3. What with dial-up, time factors, operating system, visually-impaired people accessing the site, it's just better practice to provide both video and transcript, even if you urge people - if they can - to watch the video as well as read the transcript.

Phil: Isn't it wonderful that Coulter admitted -- not even tacitly, but outright -- that she cannot speak or write without attacking people personally? ("I want you to stop with the personal attacks." "Uh, OK, I'll stop writing books.")

I think that's meant to be redirection, though? Coulter's fans are meant to take her response and say "Elizabeth Edwards told her to stop writing books!" And they will. You know they will.

sglover: I wish I could agree with the leading post, but I had the sinking feeling that, in her own sick terms, Coulter came out on top.

Maybe. But for people - like OCSteve - who may be politically on Coulter's side, I think Elizabeth Edwards did a terrific job of showing Coulter up as a nasty little person: not sinking to her level, but pointing out that Coulter makes "jokes" about real people, and these "jokes" are not funny, not even if you utterly oppose John Edwards as a candidate. Coulter doesn't just sink the level of discourse: she dehumanizes it.

Spartikus @ 12:14 am: "Anne Coulter's continuing ability to get time on mainstream T.V. amazes me."

Actually, it's not all that surprising. Coulter is like a troubled child who doesn't care what kind of attention she gets-- whether she gets it for doing good things or for rubbing her own filth into the carpet. Her niche is dispensing hatred and shame. Television news producers really aren't all that different than Coulter in virtue of being consummate attention-seekers. They just choose to get attention by playing to different impulses: Moral self-congratulation, a sense of superiority on the cheap, vacuous sympathy. Putting on Coulter gets them attention (hey, we're talking about her now, and the Coulter/Edwards flap has been on all the morning shows!), and they get to do what they do best: Talk about personal tragedies and solemnly wring their hands about how nasty Ann Coulter is.

Face it: Coulter and television news play to one another's strengths. That's not to minimize Coulter's negativity or to make the tiresome point that "she just wants attention, so let's stop giving her what she wants." It's to say that Coulter wouldn't be who and what she is without a massive dose of television media enabling.

Gary's explanation of the value of transcripts applies even for some of us with high-speed access, by the way. At times when I cannot face a lot of real-time stress, transcripts let me screen and repare for stuff, and I like that a lot. Thank you to those who find and link to them.

Is there some reason that the New York Times and the Washington Post feel that they have a duty to allow idiots to write op-ed pieces? Sure, informed people will know that anti-science folks who believe in creationism or a flat earth or that we are all better off with a 10C increase in mean earth temperature are completely wrong, but people who don't know that will think that the Times and the Post have endorsed the nonsense. By offering the credibility of these papers to these writers, the papers themselves weaken their credibility by making it appear that they think that these pieces of nonsense deserve to be written, that they have no ability to tell reality from fantasy. I support a vigorous exchange of ideas, but evidence-free attacks on science is not an exchange of ideas nor does it add vigor to the public debate.

Let the loons write their op-eds for the Wall Street Journal opinion page. It has no credibility left to lose.

Sure, Jes, and my point was that the transcript didn't get across what might be the possible reason why hilzoy would embed the video in the post, so if someone read the post and saw Gary's transcript and said 'ok, I know what happened' would actually not. To read the transcript gives one the impression that there was some reasoned debate going on here, but to see Coulter grasp at straws in order to insinuate that EE wears the pants in the family and to play the victim card (Why isn't your husband doing this? Why are you trying to censor me?) makes you see that EE really caught Coulter off guard, and that's not to speak of the crowd reaction. So my point was that there was a lot more going on that the transcript doesn't get across.

lj: So my point was that there was a lot more going on that the transcript doesn't get across.

Yes, lj, I got that the first time, I just didn't agree with you that this was in and of itself a good reason for not providing a transcript at all. (If that wasn't your point, I don't know what your point was.)

Well, 'point' seems to put to sharp a point on it. It seems to me that adding a transcript, providing an extra link, that kind of stuff, is what makes a blog a collective activity, and complaining that hilzoy hasn't set up the post in its Platonic form seems to be a bit off and I imagined that hilzoy felt that if one only saw the transcript, it wouldn't get across what she thought was important.

Is there some reason that the New York Times and the Washington Post feel that they have a duty to allow idiots to write op-ed pieces?

Read this.

They want ideas that are "provocative." Reasonableness or accuracy of supporting facts appear not be requirements. what is interesting is that Hoyt says he intends to address the question of "the obligation of editors to make sure that op-ed writers are not playing fast and loose with the facts," but does not do so.

Ara: The problem with Coulter is that people don't go for her throat, which they should. She called the 9-11 widows shrews who enjoyed their husbands' deaths. People need to simply shame her and the people who still pay attention to her. These are people motivated by the most visceral emotion they are made to feel. For such people, Edwards -- the softer-spoken one -- lost the argument against the tougher Coulter.

Again, not sure this is the case. I've seen people much further to the right than OCSteve - diehard Bush fans - who were reacting disapprovingly to Coulter and approvingly to Elizabeth Edwards. Diehard Coulter fans, that's another matter: but they'd enjoy Coulter getting smashed back just as much as they enjoy Coulter doing the smashing.

lj: and I imagined that hilzoy felt

I think Hilzoy is quite capable of telling us what she feels all by herself: if she decides she needs an assistant to tell us how she feels, I'm sure you'll be on the shortlist.

I just didn't see a transcript. I'll look harder next time ;)

Hilzoy: I just didn't see a transcript. I'll look harder next time ;)

Thanks. *offers cookie*

(I am in the middle of eating an absolutely scrumptious cookie with white chocolate chunks, which, dunked in hot tea, makes my afternoon fantastic.)

*offers liberal japonicus a cookie*

The problem with Coulter is that people don't go for her throat

You need to go for her throat AND be dismissive. There are plenty of mentally ill people in the country who are just like her, but they aren't rich and famous (many of them buy her books). Brian is right above: Coulter is an oozing pustule on the body politic, but she would be just another obscure crank if her big publisher and big electronic outlets didn't choose to make money off of her. With all due respect to the principled conservatives here: pornography is the logical result of the Reagan cultural revolution - and Coulter is civic/social pornography. You'd love to blame the old liberal order for the avalanche of tastelessness, the collapse of decency and the debasement of rationality we've been enduring the last 25 years, but it simply doesn't wash. Like it or not, the ethos of the current era - the Conservative era - is: if you can make money at it, do it; and it's OK to do anything to win. The Market will magically take care of everything if everything is a market.

American Hucksterism was hardly invented in 1980 of course, but it was validated - institutionalized - and in a new and more potent way in the present era. Good liars - people who lie when they don't have to - are 'clever'; sociopaths (like Rove) are 'tough and smart', etc. Of COURSE you don't attempt to censor people like Coulter - you don't attempt to censor anyone. But elites might want to develop a sense of shame, the sense most ordinary people of any political stripe have, ie, 'There are some things I wouldn't do for money or power'.

At least no one has deployed the old "we should just ignore her" argument yet. I hate that argument.

Well, Anne's still got those 25% or so of Americans behind her and that's a lot of people.

Even after you cull out the ones who can't (or refuse) to read books.

Anne's still got those 25% or so of Americans behind her

I don't think so. Bush has 25% or so behind him. Not the same thing at all. Party conservatives have been strategically and discreetly 'distancing' themselves from Coulter for years. Not Romney, of course, but he will say literally *anything* to get ahead (the perfect Modern Republican - see comment above).

Lawyers are usually pretty good with hypotheticals, but I can't think of a single instance where Coulter's comments would have been anything other than completely and stupidly and disgustingly vile.

"Thank you, Gary."

You're perfectly welcome, Jes.

LJ: "So my point was that there was a lot more going on that the transcript doesn't get across."

It's actually a lot easier to grok and extrapolate than you might think, with a little experience.

In any case, anyone who would like to contribute the additional ~$20/month it would cost me to get broadband -- which I'd wrestle rabid badgers to be able to have -- is more than welcome to hit the PayPal button at my blog. Recommending it to me otherwise isn't useful.

"...but she would be just another obscure crank if her big publisher and big electronic outlets didn't choose to make money off of her."

Well, then, as soon as we've ended capitalism, problem solved.

"American Hucksterism was hardly invented in 1980 of course, but it was validated - institutionalized - and in a new and more potent way in the present era."

What does this mean, actually?

as soon as we've ended capitalism, problem solved.


That is almost a Coulterism, Gary. Edwards asked her not to insult her family and Coulter screeched that EE was trying to shut her up (ie censor her). Very weak. What I'm saying has nothing to do with trying to 'end capitalism'. As you surely could suss out if you cared to, I'm saying that overestimating what unfettered capitalism can and can't do is the problem; that the Market is not the automatic, overarching, inviolate moral force you would like it to be. Capitalism is a part - a subset, if you will - of life, not life itself. I'm talking about making judgements, not enforcing a particular view or morality. Most people have some kind of line they will not cross to get money or power. That doesn't mean they don't believe in the free market, it means they have a sense of shame and pride as human beings. I'm sure you have that sense, too. There was a time when a major publishing house wouldn't want to be associated with someone like Coulter because they would've seen her for what she is - a crazy freak. There was a time when the VPOTUS wouldn't go on a radio show like Rush L so as not to taint the office by association with a rather cheap demogogue. And the current and recent list of bald official corruption - so long that I'll just let you fill in your own examples - is another facet of the same thing. The current attitude is an innovation, not the way it's always been. There are some things you don't do, not necessarily because they are illegal, but because they are sleazy and dishonest.

Getting back to Coulter and her ilk, though: I'm about as close to an absolutist on the 1st Amendment as it's possible to be (exception: shouting 'fire' in theatre). But I think it's an abrogation of responsibility to just leave everything for the 'Invisible Hand' to sort out for you. That isn't censorship, and it's not an attack on Capitalism. It's an assertion that there is no automatic 'system' to rely on all the time; that you still have to be a human being and make judgements.

I could make a list hundreds of pages long of things which would be really bad ideas - bad for the culture, bad for politics, bad for the economy - and every one of them could be both legal and potentially profitable to someone. Does that mean we should do them?

There is a valid point to be made that the context has been left out of this, and that far from hurting Edwards, her stupid remarks just fuel his fundraising.

But whoa

JB - Does that mean we should do them?

I don't think anyone is suggesting we should be doing "them". The question is, would you stop someone, using the force of the law, from doing "them"?

There is a valid point to be made that the context has been left out of this, and that far from hurting Edwards, her stupid remarks just fuel his fundraising.

Both can be true, of course. The suggestion that Elizabeth Edwards secretly loves when people make nasty comments about her dead son, because it ends up helping her husband's fundraising, is straight out of the Coulter playbook. Just like, you know, the 9/11 widows enjoyed their husbands' deaths because it led to all this fame and political power and stuff.

I just don't get it. People from both sides engage in nasty personal attacks, of course, but there's just no Democratic equivalent to Republicans wearing Purple Heart bandaids at their convention. Yet when you call them on it, these people just become that much more vitriolic in defense of their actions. There needs to be a neutral referee, or at least some form of adult supervision.

I think that on some level, the people who listen to Coulter, and people like Jeff G. in this post, must be forgetting that people like Elizabeth Edwards are, actually, people, not just, I don't know, a bunch of pixels in a video game that you get points for zapping.

I thought this as well when Rush Limbaugh calld Chelsea Clinton "the family dog". I mean: Chelsea was a not especially attractive 13 (or so) year old, at what is always a horribly awkward age, and she did not choose to get involved in politics, and I thought: anyone who thought about that for a moment would just not have called her 'the family dog.'

Likewise what Coulter said about Edwards, and about Charlie Dean. And I just want to preemptively agree about anyone who said anything like this about someone on the right, where "anything like this" doesn't include claims like: Bush is a dreadful person (which one might make because one thinks they are true), but claims that cross the line into sheer gratuitous meanness of an especially hurtful kind. Jokes about Laura Bush's car accident would fit into this category, I think.

To forget that your opponents, and also the people who are affected by policies you suggest, are people is a good contender for the title of Original Political Sin.

Jesurgiac: Of course, conservatives find Coulter unbearable, but we crossed that line long ago. Only that 25% are left, plus the vast number of people who would watch her on the air because they secretly enjoy being irritated by her. There are -- I think -- a lot of hypocrites who rail against Ann Coulter

We need to make a new category for people who call themselves conservatives, but really don't have any properly conservative impulses to speak of. The Ledeens and Coulters and Goldbergs. Let's call these people: goons. And we'll talk about goonism. Personal nastiness, easy scapegoating with no sense of accountability, thuggishness in foreign policy, a total lack of principles when it comes to defending political favorites, no particular regard for the facts, incredible religious hypocrisy (you should hear Coulter talk about her Christianity). Goonism. I'm sure they'd be flattered to have inspired their own designator. I'm sure leading a movement is something the teenaged Ledeen and Coulter dreamed about.

The question is, would you stop someone, using the force of the law, from doing "them"?

Since there is a theoretically limitless universe of bad, boneheaded, immoral, self-defeating, coarsening, degrading - but legal - ideas, I would say that both the law and supposedly autonomous market forces are insufficient. That's my point, in fact. I wouldn't want something like the German anti-Nazi laws nor even English libel laws here. But freedom demands responsibility, which cohort I think our current ethos conspicuously lacks. No one's responsible for anything. If you can get away with something, good for you (the Bush family motto: 'If you can't be good, be careful'). If it makes money, how can you argue with it? If smearing and lying wins you elections, you're 'smart'. If you make your country a laughingstock in the rest of the world - including people whom terrorists are trying to persuade (eg Clinton impeachment; Bush v Gore) but you get a political victory out of it, you're a 'tough competitor'. It's entropy. I think I'm the real conservative here.

JB - we can all complain about the state of our current political morality, and I can't disagree with anything you've written. I was just curious if there was something you'd like to actually do about it. I have no answers, other than the answer that nature eventually dishes out to those who can't perceive risk and then adapt.

There is a valid point to be made that the context has been left out of this, and that far from hurting Edwards, her stupid remarks just fuel his fundraising.
I suppose this means that the Pro-Life movement is actually Pro-Choice, because without legal abortion they'd never raise any funds...

Coulter's use of this sort of logic is not insightful, it's just adolescent blame-shifting. She's made her living on personal attacks for, what, a decade now? She's been one of the icons of a political camp that set itself up as the opponents of liberalism? Saying, 'Your donors send you more money because they hate me' is not exactly a compelling rebuttal.

we can all complain about the state of our current political morality...I was just curious if there was something you'd like to actually do about it.

Change our politics and politicians. There's an implicit bit of CW in this country that who our political leaders are really doesn't effect the culture 'out in the country' all that much; that the causal relationship is almost all the other way around. That we Americans, by hating and ignoring our own politics, are somehow unaffected culturally by what goes on in DC. Most anyone who was an adult before the '80s (and actually remembers what the country was like then) can tell you - approvingly or not - that that simply isn't true. In fact, I'd say Reagan's explicit appeal, and the putative appeal of movement conservatism, puts the lie to that bit of national vanity.

Turn the page on the 'conservative' revolution, and see that as the goal. That's what.

The "problem" here is as much about Chris Matthews as it is about Coulter. It was Matthews who gave Coulter an entire freaking hour to spew on his show.

What to do? Here's a thought: the Democratic candidates stood firm a few months ago in their refusal to take part in a debate sponsored by Fox News. They refused to go along with the pretense that Fox is just another news provider.

So, what if the Dem candidates joined together and simply said that Matthews and his hideous shriekfest of a show were a no-go zone for them until such time as he stops acting like Coulter "contributes" anything beyond feces-flinging.

No censorship, no "silencing." Chris Matthews is free to have Ann Coulter on every night of the week, as his senior political consultant. But no Democratic presidential candidate is going to dignify his show with their presence, or pretend that it's about "political analysis" when it's clearly about no such thing.

Crazy?

Kvetch: Quite right. And Matthews has done it more than once. He keeps bringing her on. The guy is a sleaze-ball who pretends to be a moderate, for the sake of his job. He's rather unideologically sleazy.

He's usually good for one cowardly crack per hour, but I try not to waste precious brain getting worked up over the guy.

UPDATE: Overheard O'Reilly with Dick Morris talking about this issue in the frame of Ann Coulter being ambushed by Elizabeth Edwards for the purposes of popularizing her husband's ailing campaign.

So Coulter calls for Edwards' death by terrorist assassination, Edwards' wife calls in to complain, and Coulter is the victim.

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