With the uninspired analyses of the Democratic Convention finally--and thankfully--fizzling away, I'm reminded of one small story that could have been examined in greater detail: the unceremonious shit-canning of conservative columnist Ann Coulter from her USA Today convention coverage. Poor, poor, Ann. After her ugly departure three years ago from The National Review for attempting to foment a holy war by recommending the assassination of Arabic leaders and the forced conversion of Islamic countries to Christianity, her readership has shrunk to hysterical ideologues who buy up her books by the trunk-load to distribute free at D.C. keggers and Texas pig pickin's--thus pushing her name up the best-seller lists and creating the illusion of being a widely read author.
One imagines that this illusion of a "best-selling" author is what the editors of USA Today fell for when offering her the plump columnist job of conservative analyst to the Democratic Convention. Coulter's glee at being offered a mainstream, country-wide, audience for the first time was obviously uncontainable, as she stuffed her inaugural column with as many invectives and insults regarding the Democrats as her pen could muster. What she failed to consider was that she was again writing for a real publication with editorial controls and not a right wing website like Human Events Online, which allows her incendiary prose to run rough shod over reality, facts, and simple grammar.
The sense of disillusionment felt by USA Today's editors on receipt of her column is palpable on reading the copy that Coulter posted online. They clearly thought that they had engaged a professional and not someone whose prose would barely muster a "C" in freshman composition. They certainly didn't expect a column which appeared to be penned on Boston bar napkins and that would have actively insulted at least half of their readership had it been published.
Coulter and her defenders claim that USA Today just didn't understand her sarcasm and wit.
Uh, sarcasm? Coulter's unpublishable column begins this way: "Here at the Spawn of Satan convention in Boston..." Anyone familiar with Coulter's work realizes she is not being sarcastic here. She truly believes the Democratic Party is in league with Lucifer. Sarcasm, on the other hand, is the sister of irony and plays heavily into the idea of saying the opposite of one means to inflict a wounding jibe. For example, when Michael Moore provides his USA Today analysis of the upcoming Republican Convention we might expect a sarcastic beginning such as: "Here I am at the convention of God's Chosen." And this would be an effective start, as everyone knows that Moore doesn't believe Bush and Cheney are on Jehova's speed dial, while George W. most certainly does.
As for wit, I've got drinks and dinner in Bangkok for anyone who can send me one funny thing Coulter has said or written in the last five years. Coulter and her crowd couldn't distinguish a bon mot from a malaprop, confusing wit--which is the playful twist of language--with the saying of such silly, outlandish things as: "[Clinton] masturbates in sinks," "God gave us the earth...Rape it. It's yours," and "[Libertarians] never appreciate the benefits of local fascism." Another Dorothy Parker she ain't.
In Coulter's failed column she can't even set up and land a joke using Dennis Kucinich, the easiest Democratic mark for comedians since Michael Dukakis. She sets up her joke well enough, delivering a "7-11 Challenge" wherein Kucinich would have to run a 7-11 successfully for eight hours straight. But the punch line falls flatter than Coulter's chest, causing Executive Editor Brian Gallagher of USA Today to simply comment, "I DON'T GET IT." It's a refrain many would find themselves echoing were they bored enough to read through Coulter's column archives--and which ultimately leads to the question of how in the world Coulter found a public forum in the first place.
Coulter readily submits that her physical appearance has played a huge part in her success, telling TV Guide: "I am emboldened by my looks to say things Republican men wouldn't." And in her convention column she states how she and her "pretty girl" Republican allies stick out like sore thumbs among the "fragrant", "hirsute", "wagons" they call women at the Democrat Convention. Here again I hear Gallagher's refrain, "I DON'T GET IT." The fact that Coulter has been elevated to the class of "sex symbol" is about as mind-boggling as her becoming a serious political analyst, especially among foreign observers of the United States. "Only in America," laughed a Czech colleague of mine several years ago. "The pinched face, the hollow eyes, and sallow complexion. Your Ms. Coulter might appeal to our local necrophiliacs. That's about it."
Well, there is no accounting for taste in Republican circles. And Coulter has played that reality to the hilt. A while ago she told Geraldo Rivera to suppose that she went out every night and slept with a different guy; how that would be great for her because she wasn't married. All things considered, we would have to guess that she wasn't talking hypothetically but literally to Geraldo. And that she's been enthusiastically riding the couches of conservative editors for some time. Luckily, USA Today's Brian Gallagher was far away from the Boston pub where Coulter penned her column and couldn't be tempted in a weak drunken moment.