Ann Coulter’s done it again! The conservative columnist has just come out with a new book entitled Treason, that’s a sort of follow-up to her bestselling Slander!
This book, which I haven’t bought, seeks to rehabilitate the character of Joseph McCarthy, the senator who tried to nail suspected Communists to the wall in the fifties. McCarthyism has long carried a negative connotation of shrill, strident witch-hunting. McCarthy paraded hundreds of witnesses before his congressional committee to answer for their political beliefs. He lobbed grenades casually into the witnesses’ lives without any thought as to the consequences.
If this sounds like Ann Coulter to you, then I’d say you’re on to her. Shrillness sells. It’s practically a feature of the American psyche: come up with something shocking and people will throw money at you like crazy. Look at the popularity of reality shows, for the quickest example. The newest Big Brother season is going to have a house comprised of some people and their ex-boyfriends and girlfriends. Why would they do that unless they were trying to foment conflict? I’m sure there’s plenty of people who are, at this very moment, eagerly awaiting the new season.
Ann Coulter epitomizes this. She says shocking and stupid things. Liberals bristle and flame her, conservatives get to see liberals frothing up, and the American public attributes substance to her “constitutional lawyer”-hood. Liberals and conservatives have her as guests on their shows because the ratings spike whenever she’s on and the cycle gets more vicious.
Dorothy Rabinowitz has an illuminating editorial on the “Maureen Dowd of conservatives.” Reason’s Sarah Rimensnyder comments on the “bitch goddess” and her previous book. Salon demonstrates the typical liberal reaction to her stridency, thus playing right into her hand.
[UPDATE: Wow! Andrew Sullivan tears Coulter a new one in a post he calls “Coulter Kampf”—what a great title! Calling her the inverse of Michael Moore, he skewers her intellectual fraud and cites countless examples of her shrill rhetoric. Excellent post.]
[UPDATE 2 (7/10/03): Matt Gaylor on IP offers up the idiot comment of the week from Coulter: “No serious person thinks that we are in the middle of a civil-liberties crisis.” Time, 7/14/2003, pg. 8]