(WOMENSENEWS)–She’d positively hate to hear this, but Ann Coulter is a feminist success story.
The woman whose book “Slander: Liberal Lies about the American Right,” shot to the top of The New York Times best-seller list is a lawyer who has an opinion every 3.4 seconds and gets paid very well for them. She’s a sought-after guest on cable talk shows, her lecture fees are about to accelerate and she’s fast becoming a media star.
Back in the 1970s, when some of us were marching for women’s rights, smashing down doors once bolted shut, we probably didn’t expect that one of the women who’d march in behind us would be Ann Coulter. She’s cute, blonde, miniskirted, mean as a warthog and somewhere to the right of Genghis Khan. But a world where a woman can be a star pundit–even one who thinks all liberals should be burned at the stake for treason–is arguably better than one in which all women were basically seen but not heard, no matter what their opinions.
Coulter’s book belongs to what has become its own literary genre: “The-left-wing-media-controls-the-press.” These books are somewhat like the body-changing movies that Hollywood loves, in which men become women, women become men, grownups become kids, etc. You know the plot, you know the ending, but surprise isn’t the appeal. Familiarity is. On the whole, media books sell terribly, but left-wing-media-plot books do just fine, because conservatives run out and buy them. If only liberals were so loyal.
“Slander” Seems to Have Been Written with a Trowel
Coulter, however, is not as much fun in print as she is on the tube, where her pronouncements make grown men gasp. “Slander” seems to have been written with a trowel, a hodgepodge of facts, gossip and bile. She can never resist the opportunity to go completely overboard after she’s made a good point, descending into caricature or hyperbole. She thinks lots of people really hate Katie Couric and she (Coulter) “was the one to really pop her.” Do many people actually spend their days hating Katie Couric? If they do, I am not sure I want to meet them.
“Slander” is choc full of footnotes, but she basically just comes out swinging a broadsword in all directions. It’s hard to take her seriously when she tosses news and gossip, serious issues and infotainment sleaze into the same basic pot. For example, to illustrate liberal control of the media, she serves up Bryant Gumbel interviewing Playboy’s Hugh Hefner about politics during the Democratic convention. Is this ideology or desperation? How many other B-list celebrities failed to show up to fill air time before Gumbel stooped to the Viscount of Viagra?
Another example of liberal media power she cites is Hollywood nuevo-stars Lara Flynn Boyle and Heather Graham attacking organized religion in Vanity Fair and Talk magazines. The mainstream media, she says, gave “wild acclaim” to the opinions of these “worthless silicone nothings.”
Ah yes, I’m sure the staff of The Brookings Institution and the faculty at the John F. Kennedy School of Government at Harvard gathered around the water coolers to deconstruct in detail the opinions of these deep philosophical thinkers.
Coulter sees the evil hand of the left in what she calls a “liberal publicity fraud,” a book called “Fortunate Son,” which claimed George W. Bush used cocaine. But far from embracing the book, the mainstream media debunked it. The very epitome of the liberal press, the Washington Post, bashed St. Martin’s Press for shoddy fact-checking and the book was quickly withdrawn.
Coulter’s book gives only token space to the culture wars, which have been a staple of the right for a long time. She does accuse liberals of being anti-sex–promoting androgyny so much that in “GI Jane,” a male officer can see a naked female SEAL without becoming aroused. But in the next breath she charges liberals with relentlessly promoting casual sex. It’s easy, of course, to see why Coulter might not be Jerry Falwell’s favorite pundit. She showed up for an interview in New York with a reporter for a London newspaper wearing a teeny miniskirt. “It’s my total slutty look,” she chortled. The former Moral Majority founder is not big on sluts of any stripe, one assumes.
Coulter Is Really Fuming over Liberals’ Cheap Shots
What really makes Coulter fume is not bad morals, but the liberal assumption that conservatives are dimwits while liberals are all Rhodes scholars. Indeed, liberals do find it hard to resist cheap shots at “Dubya,” but how many liberals think Antonin Scalia, Bill Buckley or Bill Kristol are dumb?Lurking someplace inside “Slander” might have been an interesting treatise on social class in the media. The press may sometimes “lie” about the right. Christian conservatives rarely get a fair shake, but then neither do vegan feminist anti-globalists. Coulter blasts liberals who can’t identify with the folks who mourned the death of race driver Dale Earnhardt, but how many Beltway conservatives hang around the infield at Indy?
Once upon a time, Republicans represented the wealthy and Democrats the working stiffs. FDR was called a traitor to his class. But now, both parties share the largess of the rich. Coulter gets off some zingers against rich liberals who drive pricey SUVs and use the environment as an issue to keep down the aspirations of the lower middle class. “Liberals want to prevent oil drilling in the mudflats of Alaska, a place they would never visit because they already have their Jacuzzis and can afford the electricity.”
But Coulter’s populism gets a bit confused when she voices concern for poor blacks, but says she’s bored bored BORED with talk of the civil rights movement (which conservatives opposed) because to her it’s ancient history.
Though the book is something of a mess, Coulter herself is no dummy. She says she woke up one day and decided what the world didn’t need was another lawyer and went into the pundit biz. The lust in Bill Clinton’s heart–and elsewhere–was tailor made for her brand of invective, and she became a regular on “Geraldo” and a host of other shows. Coulter has decided not take the road of her idol Phyllis Schlafly, who doggedly and seriously keeps pushing her issues, even when she’s dismissed by snobbery on the left or sexism on the right. Coulter will never be a power player in the councils of the Conservative movement; she’s too much of a loose cannon. She happily blurts out what most people would whisper only to their buddies over a bourbon and branch water.
She’s decided to become an entertainer, not a bad decision. She will soon be filthy rich, from her book royalties and her lecture fees. Why should middle-aged white guys get all the shekel from tossing red meat to gun nuts, school-prayer zealots and militias out in the woods?
The radical right outspends the lunatic left by a country mile. At least a woman is getting a piece of the action.
Caryl Rivers is a professor of journalism at Boston University.
For more information:
Ann Coulter official Web site:
“When right-wing fem-bots attack”: