If there was still a shark for Ann Coulter to jump, one might have thought that she’d have jumped it with this now-infamous comment about the “Jersey Girls,” four September 11 widows who have been highly critical of Bush:
These self-obsessed women seem genuinely unaware that 9-11 was an attack on our nation and acted like as if the terrorist attack only happened to them. They believe the entire country was required to marinate in their exquisite personal agony. Apparently, denouncing bush was part of the closure process.
These broads are millionaires, lionized on TV and in articles about them, reveling in their status as celebrities and stalked by griefparrazies. I have never seen people enjoying their husband’s death so much.
That’s from Coulter’s new book, Godless: The Church of Modern Liberalism. You might say that this time, Ann Coulter has out-Coultered herself.
Of course, I realize that by being outraged, I am giving Coulter exactly the response she — like any provocateur — wants. I would gladly ignore her if she were just some obscure ranter with a blog; there are many of those on the left and the right. But this is a woman who is widely seen as a leading conservative pundit, whose books are best-sellers (and selections of the Conservative Book Club), and who is a regular speaker at Conservative Political Action Committee conferences.
Godless would seem to provide a perfect opportunity for the right to throw Coulter overboard. And in fact, some conservatives have been highly critical. (On some of those blogposts, the commenters are vigorously sticking up for Coulter.) On the other hand, see this, and this, and this, and a lot of the trackbacks here.
See, also, a lot of commentary on the airwaves. On Fox, Sean Hannity should be, by now, scheduled for emergency surgery to have his lips separated from Coulter’s butt. Bill O’Reilly has been fairly harsh toward Coulter, at least as far as her personal attack on the 9/11 widows is concerned, but he qualifies his criticism by saying that unlike his nemesis Al Franken, “Coulter doesn’t lie” (here’s an article at Spinsanity.org that shows otherwise). And listen to some of his guests.
David Horowitz, June 8:
Well, Ann Coulter is a national treasure, and her point is right on the mark. You know, she’s a satirist. And satirists are going to push the envelope. And if you look at it out of context, it can look like it went over the top. She’s not going to get a fair shake for, you know, her sentiments.
Ann Coulter is out there pushing the envelope. And somebody has to really rail into these hypocritical — you know, like Hillary Clinton, all of them, hypocrites who have conducted a three-year campaign to portray our president as a liar, a child murderer.
The day before that, also on O’Reilly, there was Sandy Rios, conservative activist and former president of Concerned Women for America:
SANDY RIOS, FOX NEWS CONTRIBUTOR: Well, Bill, I think, I don’t disagree with your basic premise. I mean it is certainly not my choice to attack people. However, we are living in strange times. And I think while everybody else is making nice, Ann’s words are laser focused on truth. She says things that no one else dares say and it kind of made me think about, for instance, holocaust pictures. Do we have to see pictures of emaciated bodies to understand what happened? It is kind of offensive. But, you know what, yes, we do.
Sometimes I think Ann’s words, yes, as harsh as they are, they are like a clarion wakeup call, like cold water, like stop it because women have lost their husbands in an accidental bombing, which is tragic, and we have great sympathy for them, does not give them license to then criticize the commander in chief, to work against -
O’REILLY: Whoa, they are American citizens. They can criticize the commander in chief all day long.
RIOS: And then to be criticized in return.
O’Reilly, to his credit, points out that criticism does not equal name-calling.
RIOS: I know that that’s true. … But I would say that Ann is a unique person. I don’t believe Ann does this stuff for theatrics. I think she really believes what she is saying and she has certainly a gift of words and imagery.
O’REILLY: If you’re going to stand by that Sandy, then Ann Coulter writes in her book that these people are enjoying their husband’s deaths. Come on, you know that’s not true. That’s brutal to say something like that.
RIOS: It is brutal. But Bill, I would say this, I do think we’re living in a time where a lot of people enjoy the death of their loved ones. I know that sounds terrible.
On the same day, O’Reilly also had a pro-and-con on Coulter with Juan Williams and Republican strategist Karen Hanretty. Here’s Hanretty:
KAREN HANRETTY, REPUBLICAN STRATEGIST: Well, you know, I picked up Ann Coulter’s book today. I read chapter five, starting on page 99, which talks about the Jersey women, as they’ve become to be known, actually the Jersey girls.
And I think that if you read some of what Ann Coulter is saying and you put it into context, I don’t think it’s mean-spirited. I think a lot of it is sort of tongue in cheek. And Ann’s own personal style probably wouldn’t be my style or yours or Juan’s, but it’s certainly Ann’s style.
And quite frankly, I think that this entire discussion evolving around Ann Coulter right now, in fact, proves the point that she is making in chapter five of her book, which is that liberals regularly trot out these heroes or, as she calls them, human shields that Republicans can’t refute.
So if you want to talk about the war on terror, they’ll drag out Cindy Sheehan and say, well, you can’t — as you well know — you can’t criticize Cindy Sheehan because her son died in the war. Or…
O’REILLY: Now, look, that’s a legitimate point. But Karen, for you to sit there and say that writing in a book that the four women from New Jersey are enjoying their husband’s deaths is not…
HANRETTY: These are not just any four women, Bill.
O’REILLY: That’s not mean-spirited. That’s kind of a stunning statement for you to make. I mean…
HANRETTY: Well, I think you need to put it into context.
And along the same lines, courtesy of Patterico (to whom my hat is off for his relentless Coulter-slams): what on earth is Mickey Kaus smoking? Check out the transcript of his discussion with Robert Wright, where he offers some truly bizarre Coulter defenses.
In a semi-defense of Coulter, Michelle Malkin writes:
Unfortunately, lost in all the hype and hyperbole on both sides is the central point about the absolute moral authority the MSM confers on victims they agree with–while victims whose politics they do not share can’t get the time of day. Ann told Sean Hannity today she hopes her comments will demolish the “liberal infallibility” the MSM confers on its faves.
Others, too, have argued that debunking the notion of the unique “moral authority” of victims is a valid point. It’s an issue I have addressed myself in a critique of Cindy Sheehan’s politics. But two points need to be made. One: As John Tierney pointed out in a recent New York Times column, it’s not as if the right hasn’t exploited grieving victims too. Two: except perhaps in Maureen Dowd’s column, the absolute moral authority of victims does not exist. As Malkin herself inquires:
In any case, when was the last time anyone paid attention to the Jersey Girls?
All Coulter can do is garner them more sympathy with her revolting attack.
Oh, but as Bernie Goldberg has asserted, she says it all “with a twinkle in her eye.”
I do think that Coulter has her uses. She is, for one thing, a pretty good litmus test of human decency. As far as I’m concerned, Coulter defenders are beyond the pale.