I think the best word to describe Coulter, her work and the fact that she
seems to be taken seriously is, ‘bizarre.’ There’s a radio show here in
LA, syndicated in some other parts of North America, called “The Phil Hendrie Show.”
Hendrie interviews himself, playing the roles of crazy guests –
lunatics who masturbate to videos of atomic blasts, parents of Texas
high school football players who allow the coach molest their son until
the end of the season, doctors who recommend locking retarded children
up in cages like chimps, Demi Moore and so on. Part of the fun of the
show is that the callers don’t know it is actually Phil doing all the
wacky voices and argue with the “guests.” When I sat down to read and
review Coulter’s book seriously, I couldn’t help but feel like I was
one of those callers. Maybe Coulter’s real-life appearance on “The Phil
Hendrie Show” was a hint that she’s pulling a fast one on everybody.
This book has to be a joke, and here I am taking it seriously, sort of.
Coulter claims to believe that it’s patriotic to murder Communist
Americans and that the state should be able to prohibit contraception.
If I say “you’re fucking crazy!” maybe I just become part of the joke.
That’s why I was originally going to parody this book with a review
claiming it was too liberal. “Oh, sure, you defend McCarthy. That’s
easy. What about a defender of Christianity who has literally been
demonized by liberals like Bram Stoker? What about Vlad the Impaler? Or
But then I read the reviews on Amazon and saw that people take this shit seriously, including the Amazon editorial writer, who calls Coulter an “intellectual.” Moreover, there are positive quotes about Slander, Coulter’s previous book, from publications like The New York Times and the LA Times on the back of Treason.
Coulter is on TV all the time and, instead of making her wrestle pigs
or balance beach balls on her nose, hosts ask her questions about
politics. It’s bizarre. Imagine if they had a Math channel, and on
“Math Crossfire” they brought in a numerologist and asked him what he
thought about imaginary numbers or the topology of the universe. And he
said, “well, I think the universe is triangular. There’s the holy
trinity, the Star Wars trilogy, tricycles. Famous people always
die in threes. So the universe must be triangular.” And imagine that
instead of saying, “go away, you nut” the hosts of “Math Crossfire”
took the guy seriously. Wouldn’t that be bizarre? So why doesn’t anyone
think it’s bizarre when something equivalent happens in politics?
Coulter’s reasons like a numerologist. She sounds like a “guest” on
Phil Hendrie. Even David Horowitz knows she’s off the deep end. He said
he stopped liking Coulter’s work when he asked “what if it’s not
satire?” But still, there’s Coulter on CNN and in the New York Times.
So, I guess I’ll take Coulter seriously enough to point out how crazy
the viewpoint she presents is, even compared to the views of ordinary
Coulter’s defense of Joe McCarthy is probably the most
publicized aspect of this book. The low quality of her “research” on
McCarthy as been exposed elsewhere, but I came across this little
nugget, which I don’t think anyone else has noticed.
First, here’s what Coulter says in Treason:
It [‘McCarthyism’] is the code word that must be uttered to gain
acceptance into the halls of establishmentarian opinion. Crying
“McCarthyism” is the coward’s version of “fatwa.”
Elsewhere in the book, Coulter says that McCarthyism, “never existed.” However, waaaaayyyy back in July of 2002, an interviewer asked Coulter why her column appears on a nutty website. She said:
Um, ah! The famous guilt-by-association. This is um, in, in liberal’s lurid nightmares, this is pretty much how McCarthyism
works. I write for “Human Events”, my flagship newspaper and Ronald
Reagan’s favorite newspaper. Um, I have a syndicated column that LOTS
of people buy I’m proud to say including five to six sites on the
internet. Um, uh, if people pay me for my column, um, that’s all I’m
really interested in. Why don’t you find something I’ve said?
is Coulter selling out to get into the establishment by accusing
liberals of McCarthyism, or is she issuing the coward’s version of the
fatwa? And, by the way, is she saying that the normal version of a
fatwa isn’t cowardly? That sounds like something Bill Maher would say!
Traitor! But seriously, she actually whines to an interviewer she
is a victim of McCarthyism. This is a pretty big slip up. You don’t
hear holocaust deniers claiming to have survived the holocaust. You
don’t hear people who think O.J. was framed expressing fear over the
fact that a murderer was freed into their community. Even those
crackpots can keep their stories straight.
In a later chapter, Coulter paraphrases one of McCarthy’s
sleaziest and most bizarre claims: that George Marshall was a commie
traitor. On liberals, “As Joe McCarthy said of General George Marshall,
if they were merely stupid, the laws of probability would have dictated
that at least some of their decisions would have served this country’s
interest.” This part reminds me of Slander in which Coulter
writes a chapter claiming that the religious right is a myth dreamt up
by the liberal media (which is sort of like saying that cows are a myth
dreamt up by griffins) and a few chapters before says that all people
who do not accept Christ “burn in hell.” It’s as if she really doesn’t
see the reasons for the perceptions of McCarthy or the religious right.
The religious right are crazy and evil, specifically because
they believe that all people different themselves deserve eternal
torment. McCarthy is infamous and (mostly) hated, specifically because
he falsely and irresponsibly branded people as traitors and ruined
lives. Coulter grants and even embraces the facts, then denies thier
most basic implications. It’s like someone who both believes that Neil
Armstrong was the first man to walk on the moon and thinks that the
moon landing was a hoax. Welcome to Coulter Country.
Less widely discussed, but equally crazy is the chapter on
North Korea. Coulter compares the Clinton/Democratic approach of
diplomacy toward North Korea to the Bush approach of confrontation.
Early on she throws out the old right wing jibe against Clinton: that
he’s a “pot-smoking, draft dodger.” I know kooks like Limbaugh said the
same thing throughout Clinton’s campaign and tenure, making the phrase
a tired clichÃ© before Bubba even took office, but Coulter’s use here
sticks out nonetheless. First, the old news: Clinton didn’t avoid the
draft in any unusual or illegal way. He was in college and got a
deferment. He also briefly joined the ROTC to avoid being drafted,
which was perfectly legal and common. Here’s something I’ve never seen
anyone else point out, though. Isn’t it kind of weird, almost to the
point of craziness, to be so hung up on the fact that someone smoked
pot in college? On the vice-o-meter that’s right between buying a
lottery ticket and watching Showgirls. I’d be more worried about someone who didn’t smoke pot in college.
But here’s what makes this use of the clichÃ© special. Over the past three years or so, it’s come out that GW was a real draft dodger.
In order to avoid being drafted, Bush used his family’s influence to
get a post in the National Guard that rightfully belonged to someone
else. Then he abandoned his post around the time the Guard started
testing for drugs. He was also a cokehead and a drunk driver. As a
result, most right-wingers have wisely lost their enthusiasm for the
subjects of draft dodging and drug use by presidents. Only Coulter is
oblivious enough to keep it up.
Do you see the distance between Coulter Country and
reality here? Bush might be the only man in history to both
successfully dodge the draft and desert during the same war.
Clinton, on the other hand, was a Rhodes Scholar studying abroad at
Oxford. When comparing the two men, Coulter calls Clinton the draft
dodger. Again, Coulter just isn’t up to the usual standards of
lunatics. Most loonies at least have enough awareness of reality to
avoid criticizing adversaries for minor faults in the areas where they
have major faults. Lynden Larouche supporters don’t go around accusing
Ralph Nader of being a nutty conspiracy theorist. “Oh sure Ralph, the
big corporations all get together and influence the government. It’s
all a big conspiracy. Come back down to earth, buddy. Maybe it’s just a
simple case of the British monarchy controlling the world’s heroin
supply through secret societies and heavy metal. Ever think of that,
you paranoid buffoon?”
The overall approach of the North Korea chapter is just as
nutty. Coulter presents sound criticisms of her view and then doesn’t
respond to them. For example she says that the US should have bombed
North Korea when it began to develop a nuclear capacity. She says that
liberals complained that the bombing would probably have lead to a new
war in Korea that would have cost millions of lives–at least 100,000
of them American–and that we therefore ought to try negotiation first.
Their evidence for the claim was a study by the Pentagon.
And that’s it. That’s all she says. She doesn’t state that the
“liberals’” claim is wrong. She doesn’t even say that skipping a
diplomatic approach to the problem would be worth a second Korean war.
She just goes on to talking about how liberals moved from a stance of
“appeasement” with respect to North Korea to saying that there was more
reason to invade North Korea than Iraq. If we’re going to invade Iraq
on the basis of their WMDs, those crazy liberals said, we should invade
North Korea first because they actually have some. Coulter doesn’t
really address this point either. She lays it out in such a way that
we’re supposed to see some kind of contradiction, although there
obviously isn’t one. The proposition would be something like, “we
shouldn’t go around invading every country with a weapons program, but
if we’re going to do so, it doesn’t make sense to invade a country that
has a pathetic program instead of one with weapons that might actually
pose a threat.” Right or wrong, there’s no contradiction or tension
At least on the second point, by implying a contradiction,
Coulter is using bad reasoning instead of no reasoning. This part of
the chapter is just very stupid, as opposed to crazy. The first part is
insane. We should have bombed Korea. Here is a great reason why we
shouldn’t (it would start another war), the end. This time I’ll compare
Coulter to loony leftists. I think the supporters of Stalin in the U.S.
were acting mostly out of ignorance, perhaps willful ignorance. In
order to get them into Coulter Country we must imagine that they
weren’t. We have to imagine a person who says, “Stalin has brought true
Communism to Russia! True, the temporary dictatorship of the
proletariat has turned into an authoritarian bloodbath that has
murdered more people than the Nazis and violates every principle of
Marxism,” and then he just stops talking and looks at you as though you
should be convinced.
The chapter dealing specifically with Iraq is arguably even
crazier than the chapter dealing with North Korea. It’s full of lies.
Crazy lies. One of the most bizarre is the claim that Saddam “has
gassed tens of thousands of his own people.” The “Saddam gassed his own
people” mantra is a distortion at best , but to say that he gassed tens of thousands
is just a lie. Coulter knows it’s a lie. The fact that she tells this
lie when anybody who follows world events would instantly spot it might
seem crazy at first, but it could have more to do with disdain for her
readers. What’s more clearly insane is that the lie is so unnecessary.
Saddam has committed so many atrocities that there’s really no need to
make them up, unless you’re a compulsive liar, or just plain nuts. I
can’t think of any other crazies to measure Coulter against on this
one, but what she’s doing is like trying to blacken the name of Jeffrey
Dahmer by calling him a Nazi.
A bit earlier in the chapter Coulter gives her argument for an
Al Quada/Iraq link, most importantly a link between Saddam and 9-11.
She complains that liberals claim there is “no evidence” of such a
link. This is a false and treasonous liberal mantra, Coulter says. No
evidence, no evidence, no evidence. Of course, her book was published
before the AP reported GW saying, “We’ve had no evidence that Saddam
Hussein was involved with September the 11th.” (He still says there’s
an Al Qaeda link. The bad guys had coffee together or something.)
Anyway, Coulter goes on to point out that that the Czech intelligence
agency claimed that an Iraqi operative met with a member of Al Qada.
She concludes the paragraph by saying, “The CIA discounted that claim,
but it’s not ‘no evidence.’” That is the actual quote from the book. I
promise. I triple checked. She actually says that. I mean,
technically Coulter is right. It’s not “no evidence.” It’s discredited
evidence, but still. You don’t hear people who believe in the loch ness
monster citing the Surgeon’s Photo
in support of their beliefs since the man who shot the photo has
admitted it’s a fake. “Oh sure, it’s a fake picture. But it’s not “no
During the conclusion of Treason any veneer of sanity
falls away. Coulter’s final tirade boarders on “word salad.” She says
that liberals think they are gods, that they favor anarchy and at the
same time, fundamentalist Islamic theocracy. Actually, she says they
favor fundamentalist, Islamic theocracy because they favor
anarchy. They hate America and civilization. They also like sex too
much, which means they don’t like sex at all. She implies that fathers
of children born out of wedlock shouldn’t have parental rights and that
mothers of children born out of wedlock shouldn’t get child support.
She mentions social security. She says Arafat and Clinton are moral
equivalents. Liberals will defend anyone as long as he’s a liar.
Anybody who values language will value truth and anyone who values
truth will be a rightist. Ezra Pound was a traitor. The Junior Anti-Sex League in Orwell’s 1984 actually satirizes promiscuity rather than sexual repression. The New York Times
is immoral for celebrating “trophy wives.” She says all of this and a
bit more in two pages. Eight paragraphs. Here’s a sample sentence,
“They [liberals] adore pornography and the mechanization of sex because
man is just an animal, and they are gods.” Huh? Animals or gods, which
is it? Here’s another: “The Democratic Party formed a cordon around
Bill Clinton [during the impeachment] as hysterical fascist banshees
screamed that ‘everybody does it.’” Fascists? OK. So liberals are
fascist are communist are anarchist are supporters of Islamists who
think they are gods who think they are animals. Because they don’t
value the precision of language. No wonder Chris Mathews can’t shut up
about what a good writer Coulter is. No wonder the Washington Post published a review of Slander that said, “she can harness such language to subtle, syllogistic argument.”
above is one final bit of nuttiness that I have to address specifically
even though I was planning to wind things up at this point. Coulter
loves to cite Orwell. This is so weird and crazy that it’s one of the
primary reasons I honestly suspect that her whole career has been a
hoax and that the Orwell citations, like the Phil Hendrie radio
appearance I mentioned in the first paragraph, are intended as hints.
Here’s a right wing fanatic who thinks that anybody who is critical of
the right is a traitor and at the same time regularly cites Orwell in support of her view! Fantastic! And not Animal Farm, but always 1984,
a cautionary tail written by a socialist about a right wing,
totalitarian state where dissent is equated with treason. The Anti-Sex
League reference is a prime example. Coulter feels that looking at our
present political landscape, Orwell’s depiction of a right-wing effort
to repress sexuality pertains, not to right-wing efforts to repress
sexuality, but to those who oppose such efforts. It’s like Pat
Robertson quoting Nietzsche, but worse because Coulter’s use of Orwell
is just so fucking Orwellian. War is peace. Anti-sex is pro-sex. Is it possible that she doesn’t see this? I’m not so sure.
One Last Thing
Since the release of Treason,
other right-wing pundits have been distancing themselves from Coulter,
even though they loved her previous work, which was only incrementally
saner and less self-satirizing. There was an article on slate.com
theorizing that Coulter is being abandoned because she is too honest in
her embrace of McCarthyism. Andrew Sullivan wants to equate dissent
with treason, the article pointed out. He’d just prefer to do it more
subtly with talk about a “5th column.” But Coulter pointing
out that the right’s most recent “with us or against us” bullshit
follows the model of McCarthyism is horrible PR.
I think the article touched on the truth. This is a topic
for a rant or something, but Coulter and company represent a movement
of right-wing apes who have nothing to do with conservatism. The real
problem for those in charge of the apes is that Coulter exposes the
idiocy of their rhetoric because she caries their views, on a wide
range of subjects, to logical conclusions, effectively producing
satire. I wonder if some of these rightists are beginning to suspect
what I suspect. Maybe instead of asking himself “what if it’s not
satire?” Horowitz really asked himself “what if it’s not the kind of
satire I think it is?” But The New York Times and CNN still take her seriously and at face value, which is funny, I guess.
Other Ruthless, Bloviated, Treasonous, Left-Wing Rants:
- Lies And The Lying Liars Who Tell Them – Al Franken
- Praying To Satan For The Death Of Pat Robertson
- Savage Nation – Michael “Weiner” Savage
- We Believe in a Literal Bible Up Your Ass
- Slander – More Bullshit From Coulter
- Dude, Where’s My Country – That fat gun-hating guy
- Why We Fight – William “Snake Eyes” Bennett
- Jesus Movie Sanitizer
- Seen & Heard – Some sad, sad 14-year-old