The conservative columnist tries to cultivate a reputation for telling brutal truths. As yet, she hasn't lived up to it.
Ann Coulter's defenders insist that she has a great sense of humor and a sharp analytic mind but that her politically correct critics can't handle her brutal honesty. To see why they're wrong, look at her latest. "The mainstream media keep pushing alternatives to Mitt Romney not only because they are terrified of running against him, but also because they want to keep Republicans fighting, allowing Democrats to get a four-month jump on us," she writes. "Meanwhile, everyone knows the nominee is going to be Romney. That's not so bad if you think the most important issues in this election are defeating Obama and repealing Obamacare."
There is in fact an element of telling hard truths here, and what passes as bravery in right-wing pundit land. "Instead of sitting on our thumbs, wishing Ronald Reagan were around, or chasing the latest mechanical rabbit flashed by the media, conservatives ought to start rallying around Romney as the only Republican who has a shot at beating Obama," she goes on to write. "It's fun to be a purist, but let's put that on hold until Obama and his abominable health care plan are gone, please." This is heresy among the extremist fan base she's cultivated.
So credit where it's due.
But wait a minute.
Is she seriously asserting that it's "the mainstream media" that "keeps pushing alternatives to Mitt Romney"? Come on. First, is there a conservative media organization in America that hasn't been looking for an alternative, often with desperation?
Second, what political reporters and editors are doing is covering whoever rises in the polls. The absurd challengers that keep dominating headlines for a few weeks at a time are the ones that likely GOP voters are elevating by affirming, "Yeah, Michele Bachmann/Rick Perry/Herman Cain/Newt Gingrich is my candidate." It's appropriate for media workers to respond by saying, "Okay, if Republicans think they want X, we're going to dig deeper into X's candidacy." One role of the press is to inform voters about candidates in whom they signal interest.
I understand the role the MSM-bashing plays in Coulter's column. She felt like she had to throw the base some red meat to go along with the Romney endorsement. But she is smart enough to know that there is no conspiracy. Despite her reputation for telling unspeakable truths, Coulter is actually nakedly strategic in her willingness to tell readers lies they want to hear, whether to goose her sales or make more palatable a heretical argument about which she actually cares. Her shameless propaganda streak bothers me more than her political incorrectness.
The willingness of people like Coulter to casually pass along lies and self-serving victim narratives to the conservative base is one reason why its candidates this cycle are so self-defeating and absurd. I'll respect her "hard truth" columns a lot more when they're stripped of pandering.
Image credit: Andy Carpenean/Laramie Boomerang/AP
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