Godless: The Church of Liberalism
I have been deeply fond of Ann Coulter since the 1990s when I first came across her weekly column in an issue of Human Events, a conservative magazine. I fell in full-blown love with her when, during an appearance on "Hannity and Colmes," she dismissively described John Kerry as "a kept man." Given that I had been saying basically the same thing for years, it was refreshing to hear someone else not only reach the identical conclusion but fearlessly state it.
Coulter is described as "mean-spirited" and "hateful" by those who consider James Carville and Alec Baldwin to be "articulate" and "thoughtful." But to those of us who sit on the right of the aisle, Coulter is the hand grenade that we lob back at the bomb throwers. Liberals simply cannot stand the fact that Coulter --- a strong, smart and attractive woman --- hoists them on their collective petard with practically every paragraph she writes. But hoist she does, and GODLESS, her latest work, leaves them with their undies flapping unhappily in the breeze.
What Coulter does in GODLESS is use a combination of fact, opinion and satire to expose the contradictions inherent in the gospels according to the liberal evangelists --- Marcuse, Marx, Lenin and Chomsky --- as promulgated by their contemporary humanist apologists. Coulter compares liberalism to a religion, one that worships denial as opposed to a divinity. It has a sacrament (abortion), a martyr (Willie Horton) and a priesthood (the NEA), among other things. This might be dry reading in the hands of someone else, but Coulter is a hoot. Everyone knows, for example, that Bill Clinton didn't rely on a "quick show of hands" to decide which women to hit on while on the campaign trail, but the visual image is hilarious. Since Coulter doesn't footnote the allegation, however, she's considered a bitch.
When discussing liberal infallibility, she points out that four women, rendered widows by the 9/11 terrorists, might be engaging in a bit of post-mortem gold digging. This causes the talking heads on the left to go bananas, as if an attack on the four was an attack on all, ignoring, of course, the accuracy of Coulter's limited accusations. Similar things have occurred when Coulter has analyzed the evolution of the left's current icon, that erstwhile Nobel Prize nominee Cindy Sheehan. We've seen this happen before. Liberals will take someone driven insane with grief, exploit them and then attack anyone who has the temerity to point out that they might not be a reliable spokesperson. It's no wonder that liberals hate Coulter; she not only points out that the emperor has no clothes, she also makes fun of the size of his equipment.
And in GODLESS, Coulter makes plenty of points. She notes that liberalism, though itself a religion, is tolerant of other beliefs, except, of course, for Christianity. Schools? You can pass out condoms but not prayer books. Liberals, as Coulter reports, will go to any length to protect creatures they regard as endangered, but they seem to forget about unborn children. Liberal martyrs? You have your murderers and rapists (Willie Horton) and your convicted cop killer (Mumia Abu-Jamal), to name but two. Coulter not only compiles the list of liberal offenses and checks it twice, but gives blunt, no-holds-barred analysis of how and why those liberal folks got so naughty.
GODLESS isn't going to change anyone's worldview, and it would be a mistake to think it will. Coulter is, however, an affirmative voice for those of us who live in the real world. And for those who are left, she is a porcupine who thoughtfully runs amuck through a hall of hot air balloons.
--- Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub
It's almost over for Ann Coulter. And it isn't even her fault. Our soldiers keep dying in Iraq, and the White House can't give us a reason we can believe. Job creation is way down. The minimum wage hasn't been revised upward by the Federal government since the Republicans gained control of Congress, a dozen years ago. The rich get tax breaks; my tiny company has to pay $18,000 a year so my family of three can have health insurance.
It's hard to blame "liberals" for this. I mean, it happens; throwing pixie dust in our eyes is what the White House does. But if the polls aren't rigged, it's pretty clear that we no longer buy that spin.
This gives Ann Coulter a problem. How do you create a bestseller when people are tired of over-simplified tough talk, massive corruption and a President who needs more soldiers to die lest all the ones already dead died in vain?
Well, if you're Coulter, you use everything you've got.
Start with sex. Unless her photographs have been doctored, she's had her breasts done. (No complaint here; I'm just pointing it out.) And is her hemline rising? When she appeared on "Today," she wore a short cocktail dress that had to be like Viagra to male Republican viewers.
And then there's her mouth, both in interviews and on the page. Just when you think Coulter has taken shrill over the red line, she tops herself --- like attacking the "Jersey Girls," four 9/11 widows who are generally credited with forcing the government to launch the 9/11 Commission. In the book, she writes: "These broads are millionaires, lionized on TV and in articles about them, reveling in their status as celebrities and stalked by grief-arazzis. I've never seen people enjoying their husbands' deaths so much." But that vintage Coulter wasn't extreme enough for the book tour. To make sure she got noticed, Coulter's promotion included this deep, substantive question: "How do we know their husbands weren't planning to divorce these harpies?"
Let's take just a minute on this. Coulter makes outrageous claims --- but she has never met the Jersey Girls and is, to put it kindly, "channeling" what their feelings and motivations are. To which she would reply: "But this is satire. I am a humorist." Nice to have it both ways: sincere scourge on the attack, whimsical humorist when on the defensive. Alas, you don't get to pick and choose. This passage is neither funny nor, as far as the public record indicates, accurate. It's just Ann, being Ann.
Picking the wings off butterflies is a schoolyard game. Most graduate. Coulter did not. But then, how could we expect her to understand common human emotions, like marital love and marital grief? After all, no man has loved Ann Coulter enough to marry her. She's never had to tell a kid heartbreaking news. And as for...but discretion demands that I stop there.
At The New Yorker Festival a few weeks ago, editor David Remnick (the kind of "liberal" who once supported the invasion of Iraq) had a conversation with Jon Stewart, of "The Daily Show."
Stewart: "You know, I feel bad for Ann Coulter."
Remnick (laughing and shaking his head): "No, you don't."
Stewart: "No, I really do! Seriously! Because, you know, once you start insulting wives of September 11th victims, you've really painted yourself into a corner. I mean, where do you go from there?"
And Stewart suggested something that I can't write here --- though Coulter would have no problem quoting it in her next book.
On that note, shall we talk about her new book?
Or rather: scheme. (Euphemism for "scam.")
Because GODLESS is not really a book.
What Coulter does is take the cornerstones of the liberal "religion" --- abortion, evolution, faith in the rehabilitation of child molesters, belief that gays are born gay, and more --- and rehash all the terrible things that happened over the years because "liberals" ruled. It's an easy exercise. Just Google "Democrats +abortion" and collect the results. Go deep enough, I'd imagine, and you'll find, as Coulter has, a 1978 comment from a minor player in NARAL. And Coulter goes deep into liberal history to cite a 1991 op-ed from the Chicago Tribune. All leading up to her grand theme: "Abortion is the sacrament and Roe v. Wade is Holy Writ. This is why we have to have World War III every time there's an opening on the Supreme Court."
(Scary thought: Could Ann Coulter be a right wing Republican man in drag?)
Coulter could have paid a grad student $10 an hour to Google the "reporting" in her book. Her invective-laden conclusions? Ah, that's why she gets the big bucks.
There are some "liberal" issues absent in these pages. Health care. The environment. Government-approved torture. The Bill of Rights. The war in Iraq. Right: stuff that matters. But that's real stuff, serious stuff. Stuff that happened while her beloved Republicans have had near-total control of Washington. So that stuff can't be included. (Look in the index for "Terry Schiavo." Nothing.)
Dealing with real issues --- in Coulterland, that's for amateurs. Coulter always goes into history for the easy kill; for example, "liberals" are all about Willie Horton. Willie Horton? Man, that is a blast from the past. But he merits sixteen pages in GODLESS. (Most of you probably don't even know who he is. Or would care if I told you.)
What's next for Coulter --- the revelation that FDR packed the Supreme Court?
Silly me, I actually care about the content of a Coulter rant. That's soooo 1960s. Coulter is post-modern, a performing dog who spouts whatever foul excuses for ideas that pop into her head. Remember that Columbine parent who was on Katie Couric's news show recently? He said his kid was shot dead because abortion is legal. Coulter's like that poor deluded dad --- just without his excuse.
In a piece published elsewhere, I compared Coulter to the late Joseph McCarthy, who is generally considered a disgrace to the Senate but whom Coulter regards as a hero. And I said: "Eventually she'll go Too Far. Then, and only then, will the press stop calling; only then will the faithful turn away. And then, at last, she'll become a footnote, a Jeopardy question, her name a shorthand for a period that no one will quite remember."
I feel that time coming. One book, two. Declining sales will do it. To gin up attention, she'll shock everyone. And suddenly no one will call it satire.
I can't wait. Can you?
--- Reviewed by Jesse Kornbluth
Reviewed by Joe Hartlaub and Jesse Kornbluth on January 22, 2011