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Devil In A Blue Dress

Ann Coulter's very existence as a public figure is insulting to our collective intelligence. Yet her slanderous screed garners praise from even liberal outlets.
 
 
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"My only regret with Osama bin Laden is that he did not manage to kill every member of the Wall Street Journal editorial staff."

"In this recurring nightmare of a presidency, we have a national debate about [George W. Bush's stolen presidency].... Otherwise there would be debates only about whether to impeach or assassinate."

"We need to execute people like Ann Coulter in order to physically intimidate conservatives, by making them realize that they can be killed too. Otherwise they will turn out to be outright traitors."

First things first: Mr. Ashcroft, if you're there, I do not mean any of the statements above to be taken literally. I do not mean them at all. None of them. OK? What I do mean is to point out the incredible hypocrisy of those on the right, the center and the "liberal media" who defend the lunatic ravings of Ann Coulter, whether because she is "kidding" or because "the left does the same thing." (For those who have been lucky enough to have missed the Coultergeist of the past few months, the author of the summer's number-one bestselling nonfiction book in America has -- in language identical to that above -- expressed her regret that Timothy McVeigh did not blow up the New York Times building, mused aloud whether Bill Clinton should have been impeached or murdered, and called for the execution of John Walker Lindh in order to intimidate liberals.)

It's degrading to have to write about Coulter again. As a pundit, she is about on a par with Charles Manson, better suited to a lifelong stay in the Connecticut Home for the Criminally Insane than for the host's seat on Crossfire. Her books are filled with lies, slander and phony footnotes that are themselves lies and slanders. Her very existence as a public figure is an insult to our collective intelligence. I should really be writing about the campaign by neocon chickenhawks to intimidate Howell Raines and the New York Times on Iraq. But fortunately, John Judis and Nick Confessore have taken responsibility for that, leaving me to the less ominous but more baffling phenomenon of the bestselling Barbie-doll terrorist-apologist, who continues to be celebrated by the very media she terms "retarded" and guilty of "mass murder" while calling for their mass extinction by the likes of her ideological comrade Timothy McVeigh.

Make no mistake. Coulter may routinely call for the murder of liberals, of Arabs, of journalists, of the President, among many others. She may compare adorable Katie Couric to Eva Braun and Joseph Goebbels and joke about blowing up the Times building. But instead of ignoring, laughing at, or perhaps most usefully, sedating her, we find Coulter's blond locks and bony ass celebrated by talk-show bookers and gossip columnists -- even a genuine book reviewer -- from coast to proverbial coast.

Do I exaggerate? While promoting her hysterical screed against "liberals" -- a category so large she occasionally includes, I kid you not, Andrew Sullivan -- this malevolent Twiggy with Tourette's was booked on Today, Crossfire (as guest and guest host), Hardball, The Big Story With John Gibson and countless other cable and radio programs. She was lovingly profiled in Newsday, the New York Observer and the New York Times Sunday Style section. She was the Boston Globe 's honored guest at the White House correspondents dinner. Her incitements to murder and terrorism have been cheered and defended in the Wall Street Journal and National Review Online . (The latter did so, moreover, despite her having termed its editors "girly boys" and behaving, in the words of the website's editor, Jonah Goldberg, "with a total lack of professionalism, friendship, and loyalty.") And her publisher, Crown, says it has no plans to correct her lies in future editions. Why should they care? Is anyone holding them accountable?

The slanderous nonsense she puts between hard covers, moreover, is selling not only to the caveman crowd, it's also receiving praise in such respectable outlets as the liberal LA Times Book Review and being quoted as constitutional gospel by alleged intellectual George Will on ABC's This Week . This despite the fact that Coulter's accusations have been as effectively discredited as Hitler's diaries. (The last time I checked, the folks at Tapped, the American Prospect 's weblog, had compiled so many of these falsities it took them nearly 3,000 words to enumerate them. Coulter has also been ripped to shreds by dailyhowler.com, spinsanity.com, mediawhoresonline.com, Scoobie Davis Online and by Joe Conason in Salon. The most comprehensive compilation can supposedly be found at slannder.homestead.com. I cannot bring myself to actually wade into it.)

So what's the deal? Is looking like an anorexic Farrah Fawcett and wearing skirts so short they lack the dignity and reserve of Monica Lewinsky's thong enough to insure the embrace of the national entertainment state no matter what you say, just so long as your murderous bile is directed at "liberals"? Would it have worked for Saddam if he wore a size 6? I really don't know. Naïve optimist that I am, when I first picked up Coulter's book in galleys in the late spring, I felt pretty certain we were done with her. I mean, how even to engage someone who terms Christie Todd Whitman a "birdbrain" (page 51) and a "dimwit" (page 53); Jim Jeffords a "half-wit" (page 50); and Gloria Steinem a "deeply ridiculous figure" (page 37) who "had to sleep" with a rich liberal to fund Ms. magazine (page 38) -- all of which makes her "a termagant" (page 39)? Coulter's done far worse since, of course, and yet, like one of those Mothralike creatures that feed on bullets and squashed Japanese villagers, the monster continues to grow, debasing everyone and everything in its wake. Coulter jokes about McVeigh blowing up the Times , and the Wall Street Journal -- which was blown up by terrorists on September 11 -- rushes to her defense. Their man, Daniel Pearl, was murdered by terrorists in Pakistan. Have they no shame? At long last, have they no sense of decency left?