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Tilting at Windmills

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December 24, 2008

THE RIGHT'S PROBLEM IN A NUTSHELL.... The other day, my friend Ron Chusid had an item arguing that Ann Coulter's piece on Sarah Palin was clear evidence of "the wrong direction the conservative movement is moving in" and the dominance of "anti-intellectualism" on the right.

I finally read Coulter's piece, and I have to admit, it's even more inane than I expected. Coulter, heralded Palin's selection as "Conservative of the Year" and applauded the Alaska governor's role in politics. To hear Coulter tell it, Palin is a hero because she sent "the left into a tailspin of wanton despair."

Who cares if Palin was qualified to be President? She was running with John McCain! There was no chance that ticket was going to place her anywhere near the presidency. In fact, I can't think of a better place to put someone you wanted to keep away from the White House than on a ticket with McCain.

Palin was a kick in the pants, she energized conservatives, and she made liberal heads explode.

Got that? Palin is necessarily wonderful because liberals didn't like her. (That plenty of independents and Republicans found the thought of her vice presidency horrifying is irrelevant.)

Now, I realize that Coulter is a circus clown, and quite possibly a liberal plant meant to make conservatives look ridiculous as part of some kind of satirical performance art, but over the course of nearly 2,000 words, Coulter couldn't actually point to any of Palin's genuine strengths. Coulter blasted the media, Democrats, women she finds insufficiently attractive, and John McCain, but in applauding the greatness of Sarah Palin, she neglected to mention anything that makes Sarah Palin great, outside of Coulter's disdain for Palin's detractors.

Ezra noted that Coulter's bizarre missive will one day offer historians evidence of "the death of America's conservative majority."

Palin is the year's most important conservative not because she won, or because she came close, but because she provoked the most outrage among liberals. And Coulter's column presents all of this as triumph. There's no sorrow over Palin's loss. Rather, the column is suffused with glee for the lark of it all. Remember that time Palin made that joke about lipstick?

This is not the metric of anything so fearsome as a bully. It's the measure of a mere pest. And the hard question for conservatives is, what if Coulter is right? What if Palin really is the leader of modern conservatism, the best representative of its modern mission? "Palin was a kick in the pants," Coulter says. And right now, that's enough.

Steve Benen 10:00 AM Permalink | Trackbacks | Comments (66)

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She [Palin], was a kick in Rich Lowry's pants. Conservatives are sooo cool!

Posted by: pokeybob on December 24, 2008 at 10:07 AM | PERMALINK

So scathing ridicule and hysterical laughter now count as an 'exploding head'? Who knew?

Posted by: JoeW on December 24, 2008 at 10:07 AM | PERMALINK

If conservatives like Coulter consider Palin Conservative of the Year, that's fine. The relaity is that voters considered her Polling Booth Poison.

Posted by: Varecia on December 24, 2008 at 10:07 AM | PERMALINK

I hear there is something called a "principled conservative". What would such a person say about this shrieking thing called Coulter? Let the fight begin. If Coulter and Palin are the new face of conservatism, we should be happy.

Posted by: jrw on December 24, 2008 at 10:11 AM | PERMALINK

This is how the right has operated the past 10+ years. If it pisses off liberals*, it must be good. If it REALLY pisses off liberals, it must be GREAT. Coulter *was* pointing out Sarah Palin's strength, the only strength that matters to Coulter - pissing off liberals.

*not necessarily real liberals, mind you, but the fake cartoon character liberals the wingnuts make up in their mind, and attribute to everyone even slightly left of themselves.

Posted by: Joshua on December 24, 2008 at 10:13 AM | PERMALINK

What was the term we've heard before: "The Spite Right?"

Posted by: Phillip J. Birmingham on December 24, 2008 at 10:21 AM | PERMALINK

Palin sunk McCain's campaign. I canvassed in a swing state and independents flocked to Obama once Palin started doing unscripted appearances. A good number of these people were McCain supporters that could not bring themsselves to vote for him because of Palin. Coulter lives in a right wing bubble.

Posted by: grinning cat on December 24, 2008 at 10:22 AM | PERMALINK

Coulter seems under the misapprehension that liberals "didn't like" Palin. On the contrary, she was a godsend, somebody so far right she couldn't even take a stab at appearing moderate without having to telegraph it with that "we're wise to 'em" wink. The only people who got a kick in the pants from Palin were the pickup truck drivin', gun rack sportin' types who never saw an animal they didn't want to shoot and never saw a resource in another country they wouldn't want taken by military force for the greater comfort of Americans. She energized them, all right, but Obama could go down on one knee, spread his arms and sing "Mammy" , and never win a vote from that crowd. They're annoying with their reliable screeching, but harmless by themselves. It's only when some smiley nutjob comes along pretending to be a compassionate conservative that their numbers are padded to the danger level.

Posted by: Mark on December 24, 2008 at 10:25 AM | PERMALINK

Palin & the Plumber in 2012!

Posted by: mellowjohn on December 24, 2008 at 10:28 AM | PERMALINK

She sent the left into fits of howling chuckles. Is that the same as a tailspin of wanton despair? I look forward to Coulter's double act with Camille Paglia, with Joan Walsh as straightwoman.

Posted by: ericfree on December 24, 2008 at 10:35 AM | PERMALINK

>And right now, that's enough.

In 6 years they went from gloating about the "conservative ascendancy" to cheering themselves up about their new political status as ankle-biters.

Posted by: doesn't matter on December 24, 2008 at 10:36 AM | PERMALINK

I'm still trying to follow that bit about being on the ticket with John McCain.

Was Coultergeist saying that McCain never stood a chance of winning? (But isn't he the man who brought Palin into our lives in the first place?) So, then, one of the things she likes about Palin is that she couldn't actually win?

How much fun it must have been for Coulter to watch all those silly liberals freaking out because the GOP vice-presidential nominee was a dolt, when Coulter (and the energized conservatives, Anne, or no?) knew Palin was never going anywhere near actual power? Ha-ha! So clever!

It sounds like Coulter is admitting the whole McCain campaign was just a big prank on the country. Or at least the 'liberals'.

I know it looked like a joke from where I was standing, but if they were actually never serious about it, couldn't they have just said "Yeah, we give. Your turn," and saved election officials a bunch of work?

Anne, tell us the truth. Aside from an extended chance to annoy the liberals, was the whole thing just a plot to get Tina Fey back on SNL?

Posted by: biggerbox on December 24, 2008 at 10:36 AM | PERMALINK

Your first mistake was paying any attention at all to what Coulter said. It just gives her power. The best plan is to ignore ignore ignore. If enough people do that she will eventually just go away.

Posted by: Chris on December 24, 2008 at 10:39 AM | PERMALINK

After Sarah Palin was nominated and began giving interviews, I defended her -- sort of -- saying that she couldn't possibly be that dumb in real life. After all, she climbed to the position of governor.

Then she appeared in the Great Thanksgiving Turkey Massacre:

Oops. Sorry. I mean here:

And I discovered that she is absolutely as dumb as she appears. I really hope she is the Republican nominee in 2012.

Posted by: SteveT on December 24, 2008 at 10:42 AM | PERMALINK

As Chris suggested...

Isn't this the type of vacuous froth you said would be a good idea to ignore unless it actually gains traction in circles wider than "Human Events" subscribers?

This doesn't seem worthy of space on the blog.
It sounded like someone who clearly couldn't come up with an idea for her column that day. Phoned in.

Posted by: toowearyforoutrage on December 24, 2008 at 10:49 AM | PERMALINK

Palin is my Republican heroine too. I'd like to invoice her wardrobe to the Norm Coleman campaign, with the suggestion that he should've sprung for the matching handbag.

Posted by: Aatos on December 24, 2008 at 10:50 AM | PERMALINK

Coulter is a brilliant liberal satarist, much like Stephen Colbert, or even Sasha Baron Cohen - the only difference is that she never, ever breaks character. But her public persona is absolute genius in that she constantly pushes the limits of what she can get her near-infinitely stupid conservative "fans" to go along with.

Posted by: DH Walker on December 24, 2008 at 10:59 AM | PERMALINK

Coulter criticized women she finds insufficiently attractive? Now that IS funny. She of the gunboat size feet, anorexic body wearing the (ever washed?) black cocktail dress, stringy straight bleached blond hair calling other women "unattractive."

Posted by: impeachcheneythenbush on December 24, 2008 at 11:01 AM | PERMALINK

Well, it was a heck of a race. Dumbest on the Right Stakes - Ann C had an easy lead, but, St Sarah made her move at the quarter pole - Finally, at the sixteenth pole, she pulled slightly ahead, but Mika, with Morning Joe whipping desparately, came flying down the lane - Ann C, with her nostrils a'flame, lunged for the wire - Photo finish - Triple Dead Heat.

Only problem was the DQ of Todd and BillO for using batteries in their whips and loofahs. Morning Joe's battery operated brain was allowed, even though it was very low on power.

Posted by: berttheclock on December 24, 2008 at 11:02 AM | PERMALINK

It would seem that human evolution has led us to this point in time where two distinct races are manifesting themselves. One race is the one that has naturally evolved to a somewhat if all be it imperfect state that we see today. It at least has tried to evolve to a higher state than it previously was at.
Now we come to the second race. Followers of Ann Coulter,Rush Limbaugh,Sean hannity, Laura Ingraham and there ilk. This group has deevolved to somewhat lower state of existence where the ability to reason has become almost nonexistent.

Posted by: Gandalf` on December 24, 2008 at 11:02 AM | PERMALINK

Liberals hate Palin because she represents everything that is good about America - family, faith, patriotism. Liberals have no values - anti-family, anti-faith, anti-country.

John 15:
18 "If the world hates you, realize that it hated me first.
If you belonged to the world, the world would love its own; but because you do not belong to the world, and I have chosen you out of the world, the world hates you.
Remember the word I spoke to you, 'No slave is greater than his master.' If they persecuted me, they will also persecute you. If they kept my word, they will also keep yours.
And they will do all these things to you on account of my name, because they do not know the one who sent me.
If I had not come and spoken to them, they would have no sin; but as it is they have no excuse for their sin.
Whoever hates me also hates my Father.
If I had not done works among them that no one else ever did, they would not have sin; but as it is, they have seen and hated both me and my Father.
But in order that the word written in their law 11 might be fulfilled, 'They hated me without cause.'

Posted by: jesus saves on December 24, 2008 at 11:03 AM | PERMALINK

Actually I don't consider McCain a real Republican. And Palin was an awful pick. But the sad thing is that she was as qualified to be president as Obama is.

Posted by: TruthPolitik on December 24, 2008 at 11:03 AM | PERMALINK

TP: But the sad thing is that she was as qualified to be president as Obama is.

Intelligence and education aren't qualifications for high office?

What planet are you from?

Posted by: DH Walker on December 24, 2008 at 11:06 AM | PERMALINK

I have to add my voice to Chris' and wonder why a post relating to whatshername is even on this blog. Ignore, ignore, and then more ignoring, please.

Posted by: Boliver on December 24, 2008 at 11:07 AM | PERMALINK

As a liberal, I'm delighted to see Sarah Palin raised as a conservative icon and a figure to be reckoned with in 2012.

As a political wonk, I'm clinging to the old saw: "Never kick an opponent when he's down, unless you think he might get back up again." I'm staying out of this fight, shutting up and watching.

Posted by: actor212 on December 24, 2008 at 11:08 AM | PERMALINK

Steve, please explain to me why you are A) reading; and B) commenting about ANYTHING Coulter has to say.

Posted by: Sarah Barracuda on December 24, 2008 at 11:15 AM | PERMALINK

But the sad thing is that she was as qualified to be president as Obama is.

No, the sad thing is that there are people like you that think she is as qualified as Obama.

Posted by: AJB on December 24, 2008 at 11:15 AM | PERMALINK

The lib media did a Dan Quayle on Palin, but truly she has (or had before the media hatchet job) an 80% approval rate as governor of Alaska. Being president isn't rocket science. Good judgement and common sense if more important. Look at smarty pants Obama. We're in a debt hole we'll never climb out of, and all he can think of is astronomical spending such as is sure to destroy the country. Smart, but no common sense.

Posted by: Luther on December 24, 2008 at 11:17 AM | PERMALINK

she was as qualified to be president as Obama is.

Editor of the Harvard Law Review is more relevant executive experience than mayor of Wasilla, and being Senator is more than being Governor of a national park with oil revenue.

Posted by: Danp on December 24, 2008 at 11:18 AM | PERMALINK

Ericfree, has anyone ever seen Coulter and Camille Paglia at the same time? Just wondering . . .

Posted by: T-Rex on December 24, 2008 at 11:18 AM | PERMALINK

"Being president isn't rocket science."

That's the kind of thinking that got us into this Bush situation in the first place. Hooray for an intelligent President!

Posted by: Jane on December 24, 2008 at 11:20 AM | PERMALINK

jrw: I hear there is something called a "principled conservative".

As far as I can tell, the only principle that conservatives hold is that "liberals are the enemy".

Given their near-universal defense of (often far worse) Republican instances of the exact same things they attack Democrats for, what could they possibly consider right/wrong in any meaningful way? Or even forgivable/condemnable, for that matter? Drug use, extramarital affairs, child molestation, money laundering, lying under oath, treason (and on and on) all seem to be just fine with them under certain circumstances (namely, if a Republican is doing them).

So, apart from "team loyalty", what possible principles could they have? Shamelessness and dishonesty are more character flaws than principles, so they don't count.

Posted by: DH Walker on December 24, 2008 at 11:23 AM | PERMALINK

Yep, biggerbox, that seems to be what Coulter is saying. McCain NEVER had a chance (remember her saying she might vote for the Democrat if McCain got the nomination?), so the nomination of La Palin was terrific as it made liberal heads explode.

Since she thinks McCain is a liberal, too, she's correct at least to the point that Palin seems to have made McCain's head explode eventually.

Posted by: Cal Gal on December 24, 2008 at 11:27 AM | PERMALINK

Yes, Luther, Shrub did prove rocket science might be very useful.

St Sarah won the governorship by being Anti-Murkowski - As long as she remains such and keeps passing on the oil checks to the hoi polloi of Alaska, she will retain her high ratings - Unfortunately, for our nation, she will smash Lisa Murkowski for the Senate seat. Not that losing Lisa will be a loss, but, then, DC can become her Right to Life bully pulpit. Thus, St Sarah will not go silently into the night. Her base is only the RtoLers and the Know-Nothings. Trinity Broadcasting will be a'rockin' for her.

Posted by: berttheclock on December 24, 2008 at 11:29 AM | PERMALINK

Luther: Being president isn't rocket science.

If you don't understand something at all, it can't be that complicated, right?

Posted by: DH Walker on December 24, 2008 at 11:29 AM | PERMALINK

I have to admit, I never read or listen to Coulter, but I've always wondered something. Does she really, on some level, believe/mean the things she says? Or is all schtick in the "neener-neener-neener" mode? Just curious.

Posted by: jrw on December 24, 2008 at 11:30 AM | PERMALINK

I just couldn't figure out what qualification Palin had in Coulter's mind other than being attractive (to some people anyway. keep in mind, there aren't that many women in Alaska.)

Coulter is like one of my husband's friends, justifying yet another relationship with yet another boring, stupid, horrible woman by pointing out how hot she is.

If that's all you got going for you . . .

Posted by: Personal Failure on December 24, 2008 at 11:34 AM | PERMALINK

Once you understand that conservatism is, and always has been, a protest movement against the modern world and vehicle for expressing resentments of one kind or another, then verything else falls into place: the incompetence of conservatives in government once they get power, the divisive nature of conservative politics, the absurdity and nihilism of conservatives like Ann Coulter, the attack strategies of Karl Rove in which policy is subordinated to politics and critical issues that need to be addressed are instead converted into wedge issues to further divide the country.

Posted by: Ted Frier on December 24, 2008 at 11:43 AM | PERMALINK

It's true that the GOP knew they would lose in 08. So why not use the ticket to rally brownshirts with Joe the Plumber, and militias and christ-crazies with Caribou Barbie? Boosts morale. After all, it's not like they need to win an election to take power. Remember 2000? They know what they're doing.

Posted by: next time, the reich on December 24, 2008 at 11:44 AM | PERMALINK

Coulter has been a dead letter in terms of political relevance for a few years now. I think the right-wing keeps her around for her residual entertainment value, because all she elicits from the left these days is a disdainful shrug.

Posted by: Zeno on December 24, 2008 at 11:49 AM | PERMALINK

So why not use the ticket to rally brownshirts with Joe the Plumber, and militias and christ-crazies with Caribou Barbie?

Because it tips their hand and alienates the moderates?

Not that I'm complaining. I firmly believe that if more people more more aware of the character underlying the modern Republican party, they quicker they would gain their overdue, well-earned status as a fringe party.

Posted by: DH Walker on December 24, 2008 at 11:51 AM | PERMALINK

Gandalf: the two sub-species or races that you describe are the results of evolution. Sometimes self interests are more useful for survival. We can group Ayn Rand, Coulter, Hannity, and Limbaugh with the self interest clan. Cooperation between people also sometimes leads to survival. I think the next century will be times when human survival will depend on cooperation. Self interest, to the point of greed, will become a criminal act performed by cavemen, severely frowned upon.

Posted by: slanted tom on December 24, 2008 at 11:51 AM | PERMALINK

Palin...represents everything that is good about America

So THAT's why the country is in such decline.

Posted by: Mary Chaney on December 24, 2008 at 11:55 AM | PERMALINK

So, Tranny Coulter thinks that being the running mate of an elderly man who's had several bouts of serious illness is the best way to avoid the White House? And that Palin sent the left into wanton despair? I'm confused -- is that generally characterized by paroxysms of uncontrollable laughter, whooping noises and high fives?

Posted by: gradysu on December 24, 2008 at 12:05 PM | PERMALINK

Coulter's Palin article is one of the most laziest pieces I've seen. It just seemed like an "I don't care what I write, it's Christmas, and I gotta get it in" attitude. Then again, she's always like that :)

Posted by: ctrenta on December 24, 2008 at 12:12 PM | PERMALINK

We're in a debt hole we'll never climb out of

Thanks to the Republicans, don't forget.

Posted by: Truth, Justice, & the American Way on December 24, 2008 at 12:13 PM | PERMALINK

I'm sorry, but I can't join in the rejoicing at the idea of Palin 2012. We'd win, easily, but I simply love this country too much to have it get the horselaugh it would receive if 40% did vote for her. It's easy to focus on her oblivious stupidity -- which is real, and her record for most lies told -- and repeated after they were shown to be lies -- in a single political campaign. But beneath those are truly poisonous opinions, and a really scary number of questions about her personal life and family.

In fact, I look forward to someone writing a piece that will be a hilarious look at her 'career' and make even conservatives feel ashamed that they seriously considered her. It'll take a bookj to do the job properly, and someone to write it who can stress the absurdity. But I'll admit that i wish Bob Newhart were still doing his telephone call routines. For those of you who remember the classic "Sir Walter Raleigh" routine, imagine Newhart as a political consultant hired to create a campaign for her:

"Yes, so Mayor Palin was a member of the PTA. Okay, education. We can work with this. Maybe starting with a video of her making a commencement speech at her children's gradu ... oh, they aren't attending college. They are too young, okay, at least we can catch her as they graduated from high school... oh! Yes, well, that is a difficulty.

"Getting married, you say, and the other one's going into the Army. Okay, so we can show the marriage -- it's being delayed so the girl can give birth. Yes, well... okay, that gives us a handle. 'Deeply affected by her daughter's predicament, she worked hard to improve the level of sex education in the --- no. Why won't that work? Oh, because she still supports abstinence-only."

"Yes, well maybe we shouldn't do too much with the family. Except wait. Maybe the family she's marrying into. I can see it now, Governor's daughter marries into wealthy, prominent... They aren't prominent. Except the mother, who just got busted for selling oxycontin. No, I'm sorry, I really don't think we should make much use of your family. In fact, is there any way we can find something for them to do somewhere out of the country and forget to mention them?"

"No, we've got to start somewhere else. Now she was a mayor, you say. Small town, everybody knows everybody else, lots of warmth and cameraderie and old fashioned values. So what can you tell me about this Wassail, oh, Wasilla. That's a shame, people like towns with cute names. Anyway, so Wasilla is... the evangelical, hard-rigth capital of the area. Hmm, evangelicals aren't doing so well. Can we stress the churches, nand not go into... Pastor Muthee? You want to show a minister blessing and praying for the governor. Hmm, tricky, but, you say he's black, now that's something we can -- and got his reputation by hunting w-w-w- no, I donb't think we should use that. I understand it is metaphorical, that you really mean he fights the manifestations of evil in -- it's NOT metaphorical. Real witches. He got a woman driven from her home because... no, I really don't think this would be as useful at supporting her image as you think.

"No, I think we'll just stick with pictures of the churches, don't mention the type of church. Yes, "Wassail, the town of Churches' yes, we can... what 'and the meth capital of Alaska.'

"YES! That's it. Average mom gets elected to fight the evil drug scourge, drives the drug lords out of business. All we need is video of her giving her speeches leading the crusade and... What do you mean there aren't any? Haven't you folks heard of video cameras. Okay, so we can recreate one of them and film it and put 're-creation' in insurance-company type beneath it... Oh! It isn't that there aren't any videos, there weren't any speeches. She didn't run against the drug dealers, she ran against the previous mayor.
Okay, can you tie him... no, the problem didn't exist then. She ran instead as the first 'Christian Mayor.' Against someone named Stein. Oh, dear. I'm not sure we should mention this, it might be considered, shall we say, a touch anti-Semitic. Oh, it can't be considered anti-Semitic because Stein's a Lutheran. Well, yes, I guess I can see that."

"Okay, we can still go with the drug angle. As a small-town mayor, she knew she didn't have the power to fight the scourge, so she sought higher office where she could... oh, no speeches or action there either. It's a shame she didn't do something like fire a corrupt cop, oh, okay, we can work with this. This State Trooper, she came down on him for failing to enforce the drug laws... no, she fired him because he wouldn't fire her brother-in-law. Oh, they only claimed that's why she fired him. It wasn't that. She fired him because he tried to implement a program to fight violence against women. Okay, I guess we could use this. Over-bearing policeman attempts to shift resources to a minor problem, ignores major drug -- not a minor problem. First in the country. For 23 of the last 30 years. I'm sorry, I'm really having difficulty finding something to work with...

"She's a reformer you say. She fights corruption. Now you are talking. I remember that Senator that was arrested, no, not the bathroom guy, the crook. He was from Alaska, wasn't he. And your Governor fought him tooth and ... Chairman of his re-election committee. I really am afraid I might not... Okay, one more thing."

"She, in effect, took over the oil companies, taxed their profits, and distributed them to the residents. Oh, I'm sorry. I hadn't realized. I remember Alaska had elected third-party governors, but I am afraid there isn't much profit in getting the Socialist Party nomination, not nationally. She's not a socialist? She's a conservative rePUBlican?

"I'm really sorry, but my phone has been ringing off the hook and I have to answer these calls, but I promise I'll get back to you."

"Miss Gladstone, don't EVER put that person through to me again!"

(Okay, I'm not Newhart, but it'd be a place to start.)

Posted by: Prup (aka Jim Benton) on December 24, 2008 at 12:39 PM | PERMALINK

Could Coulter possibly know how accurate the statement "I can't think of a better place to put someone you wanted to keep away from the White House than on a ticket with McCain" actually is!

Posted by: captain dan on December 24, 2008 at 12:39 PM | PERMALINK

My typing was even more errtic than usual, and I got too involved in thinking the thing out to watch it. Sorry for all the typos.

Posted by: Prup (aka Jim Benton) on December 24, 2008 at 12:49 PM | PERMALINK

Now that I think of it, I missed something. Coulter wrote a column about Palin and missed the Most Important Question:

Where is Bristol's baby!!!????

Posted by: biggerbox on December 24, 2008 at 12:58 PM | PERMALINK

The Right's problem *is* a nutshell! It's become their theme, out in front ever since Rush and the whole radio rabble-rouser thing picked us as a cultural SchtICK: everything from the recent and jaw-dropping "Baal" self-parody to Congressfreaks like Jean Schmidt, the Palin business, etc (look out for that allegedly due Bristol baby - the tin hat crowd says he may either never make it out, or be much later in keeping with being Bristol's second after Trig or who knows what.)

Their media: Not just Coulter, but the whole crew at Human Events is nuts. I get their newsletter as part of my political entomologist's catch, and it is jacked: so much religious nut stuff, "Think the good guys won the Civil War? Think again.." etc. (Did you know, slavery would have died out anyway - REM that "negro made obsolete by the cotton gin" business? - so it was very wrong to press the issue, etc.)

Posted by: Neil B ◙ on December 24, 2008 at 1:13 PM | PERMALINK

BTW biggerbox I don't ridicule in saying tin hat crowd, that's just a snark about the image such thoughts have. It is indeed curious about Bristol's recently expectant but still MIA baby, and an officially cooler (albeit awfully chick-busting) head like Andrew Sullivan finds plenty to puzzle over with the whole Trig/Sarah/Bristol/new baby controversy. (A writer even figures the Kos blogger who first broached the Bristol-had-Trig theory was a deliberate agitator from the other side, see http://www.huffingtonpost.com/jackson-williams/dr-rove-will-see-you-now_b_123247.html.)
There was an announcement Bristol was having a boy and expecting any day, I haven't seen sonograms or other cute stuff. Oh well, in a month or so we'll know what's coming out in the wash, or not.

Posted by: Neil B ◙ on December 24, 2008 at 1:23 PM | PERMALINK

The lib media did a Dan Quayle on Palin, but truly she has (or had before the media hatchet job) an 80% approval rate as governor of Alaska.

This is because of good old socialism; she increased the dividend that go to citizens from the oil revenue by increasing the amount companies have to pay into it.

Sarah Palin's approval rating being built on the back of stealing hard-earned private corporate money and distributing it willy-nilly to citizens? Heavens no.

Posted by: Joshua on December 24, 2008 at 1:47 PM | PERMALINK

I realize that Coulter is a circus clown, and quite possibly a liberal plant ....

No, you treat her too trivially. Her role is much more incidious.

How many times have you heard people equate Coulter with Michael Moore? Hundreds of times, I'll bet. Yet consider the differences:

1) Coulter gets tons of free media air and print time -- although that has toned down in the past year as she has gone out of style. The limited air time that Moore gets is invariably accompanied by a hostile interview and sometimes with "equal time" for a Moore critic. In fact, until 2006 she was considered a mainstream rightwing pundit (Time magazine cover, frequent guest appearances on non-Fox shows).

2) Coulter's factual inaccuracy is legend. In all her books the majority of endnotes are either distorted from the source, wrong, or even wholly made up. Moore's weakness has been to distort presentation for effect -- in particular on his long-ago horrible cable TV show "The Awful Truth", but his recent films have been remarkably accurate -- better than your average cable news broadcast to be sure.

3) Coulter is celebrated by those in power on the center-right, including being the frequent keynote speaker at conservative conferences. Moore is generally shunned by the powerful on the center-left -- yet the one exception to this (he was President Carter's guest at the 2004 Democratic Convention) was trumpted far and wide by the media as evidence that the Democrats were too far to the left.

So, let's summarize. Coulter lies a hell of a lot more. Her positions are far more extreme ("convert to Christianity or be killed"). She is more closely tied in with the leaders on her side of the spectrum. And until recently she was treated almost as part of the mainstream punditry.

The pattern is clear -- Coulter played a key role in shifting the Overton window to the far right.

There's an old saying in England: If one person says 2+2=4 and the other says 2+2=6, some Englishman will intervene, denounce both as extremists, and assert 2+2=5. It's unfortunately part of human nature to seek a "middle ground".

So, when someone like Coulter loudly proclaims "2+2=10,000" everyone knows that this person is extreme, but their real effect is to get the average viewer to conclude 2+2>4.

Posted by: Commenter from afar on December 24, 2008 at 1:52 PM | PERMALINK

I would argue that Ann Coulter is more the Left's problem than the Right's. As other commenters have noted, the only important point about this whole fracas is that you and Ezra and a zillion other people are blogging about it, which keeps Ann in the news, which takes time away from public discussions about more important things. Ann's whole reason for being is to drive liberals crazy, and she succeeds admirably at it, as evidenced by how many liberals seem incapable of ignoring her the way they ignore the many other people who probably have obnoxious things to say, but don't get a national platform for saying them because nobody knows or cares who they are. Ann has no talents or accomplishments apart from being maliciously provocative-- it's not like she's a CEO, or a Congresswoman, or an accomplished professional in any area apart from superficial provocation. She doesn't even have a notable work ethic, which is one of the few positive things I could say about someone like Rush Limbaugh. And yet people keep paying attention to what she has to say. Maybe if we on the Left stopped doing that, her groundless grousing would take up less of the media oxygen, and thereby supply fewer people with mindless talking points to amplify her.

Posted by: JSY on December 24, 2008 at 2:30 PM | PERMALINK

Got that? Palin is necessarily wonderful because liberals didn't like her. (That plenty of independents and Republicans found the thought of her vice presidency horrifying is irrelevant.)

What political stripe are "independents?" I am a registered nonpartisan and generally liberal. On some things, such as privacy rights, I am conservative almost to the point of libertarian. On environmental issues, I'm as left as you can get. I believe the majority of people are a mix of liberal and conservative - the neocons and religious right are frightening because they are so narrow-minded, ideology-ridden, and intolerant.

The choice to be politically independent doesn't indicate a lean to the right. I've considered joing the Democratic Party many times, but I just don't find a "party line" appealing - and the lack of a backbone to challenge the Republicans on issues like torture, warrantless wiretapping, "preventive war," and other issues killed any desire to try to be more effective by joining with like-minded others.

I'm withholding judgement on Obama until I see whether the Bush regime will be held accountable for their crimes against humanity. If this is not done, there will be no meaning to the Obama presidency - we have to come clean before the nation and the world before we can start to rebuild ourselves.

Posted by: ghillie on December 24, 2008 at 2:38 PM | PERMALINK

Great writing, prup@12.39!

Posted by: phoebes in santa fe on December 24, 2008 at 2:48 PM | PERMALINK

P.S. Don't write Palin off so easily - she's courting Alaskans very hard - looked at teh map of who elected Mark Begih and decided to build some bridges. She gave state employees an extra day of at Christmas, came out with a health care plan, and announced the establishment of a "rural subcabinet" (to build support among Alaska Natives, whom Ted Stevens lost). She's going to rehabilitate herself and come back with a lot of name recognition and more resume. Won't make her any less of a disaster, but she will be mroe of a foe.

Posted by: ghillie on December 24, 2008 at 2:49 PM | PERMALINK

JSY I think you are wrong, just reread Commenter from afar. She has a pernicious influence, and us not ragging on her wouldn't help one bit. Indeed, I think it's the other way around: not slamming on creeps looks like weakness to onlookers and advances the image of the "ignored" party.

Posted by: Neil B ↑ on December 24, 2008 at 3:40 PM | PERMALINK

I tell you, tomorrow, December 25th, CHRISTMAS DAY, the Boy will be born and His Name will be Jesse. He will be wrapped in swaddling cloths and laid in a Manger, visited by Kings and Shepherds and surrounded by all sorts of Wild Animals from the local wilderness.
Watch the sky tonight for a Bright Star, shining in the East. Perhaps Northern Lights will signal this blessed birth. And, of course, Levi will not be names as the father. There is One with a Higher Pay Grade who consumated the Immaculate Conception.
AP will carry the story, filled with facts that can easily be checked.

Mark my Words!
peace on earth, good will to men and women,
st john (yes, That St John)

Posted by: st john on December 24, 2008 at 4:12 PM | PERMALINK

You "read" Coulter's piece? Dude, seek psychiatric help asap, because you appear suicidal.

Posted by: tec619 on December 24, 2008 at 4:41 PM | PERMALINK

Ann is right, as usual. McCain(no conservative, he) would have lost no matter what ( the Democraps could have nominated an anti-American, socialist with no qualifications other than being a product of corrupt Illinois politics and still won - oh wait, they did).

The only reason McCain was supported at all was because his running mate represented all that is good in America.

Posted by: fred t on December 24, 2008 at 4:53 PM | PERMALINK

fred t: your forgot the /snark/, right?

Posted by: st john on December 24, 2008 at 4:57 PM | PERMALINK

Ann Coulter makes a living peddling bullshit to weak-minded, ignorant mental slaves of the fake, phony, trumped-up, focus-group-tested, Madison Avenue-scripted, corporate-sponsored pseudo-ideological cult known as "conservatism" in America today.

This so-called "conservatism" has no actual content except hatred of "liberals", just as the pseudo-ideology of mid-1930s German brownshirts had no actual content except hatred of "Jews".

When Coulter praises Sarah Palin as a "hero" because Palin "sent the left into a tailspin of wanton despair" or "made liberal heads explode", Coulter is, in fact, expressing the core value -- indeed the only real value -- at the heart of so-called "conservatism", namely, hatred of "liberals".

The selection of Sarah Palin as McCain's running mate no doubt succeeded in bringing a lot of Rush Limbaugh dittoheads to the polls to vote for the Palin-McCain ticket, who would otherwise have stayed home.

However, the results of the election demonstrated that bringing out the dittohead vote, in itself, is not a winning strategy. Contrary to the delusional programmed beliefs of the dittoheads, they are a tiny, lunatic fringe minority of the electorate -- there simply are not enough brainwashed mental slaves of the Limbaugh-Coulter Cult Of Liberal Hatred to win elections.

And the Ann Coulters and Sarah Palins of the world simply have nothing to offer to anyone else.

Posted by: SecularAnimist on December 24, 2008 at 5:21 PM | PERMALINK

Coulter thinks Palin is great for the same reasons that Coulter thinks Coulter is great. (Supposedly look good, supposedly annoys liberals, rises above mere facts, etc.) (She's wrong on all counts, however.)

Posted by: N.Wells on December 24, 2008 at 10:21 PM | PERMALINK

There seems to be a perception that anti-intellectualism is a problem associated with the political right. I believe that it is an American problem, and always has been. Putting the best face on it, I believe it stems in part from the Yankee emphasis on intelligence with a practical edge, but I believe it is also true that there is a growing hostile undercurrent of anti-intellectualism throughout American society, supported in part by an increasing reliance on easily digested information, packaged for effortless consumption, by the MSM and others.

Posted by: rbe1 on December 25, 2008 at 7:10 AM | PERMALINK



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