Three Cheers for Ann Coulter & Jack Kelly: Bearers of Inconvenient Truths
How does Kelly fit into a column that's essentially about Ann Coulter? For one thing, his writings often bring a smile to one's face, just as we find with Ann-of-a-Thousand-Barbs. Like her, Kelly makes "outrageous" statements, ones designed to force people to think about realities they'd prefer to ignore. Let's call them "inconvenient truths."
Two weeks ago, Kelly wrote a column in praise of the usually ignored benefits of global warming! Ttoday's (March 4, 2007) piece has the following head: "Give War a Chance." The subhead is positively Coulteresque: "The last thing Democrats seem to want is a victory in Iraq."
On the same page as that column as four letters to the editor, three strongly in favor of John Murtha's views (whatever they are) and one calling for the impeachment of George W. Bush. Generally, the letters section features numerous attacks on Kelly, with some people questioning his right to say the things that he does.
Does Kelly have defenders? Yes, one of whom is me.
However, the P-G doesn't print my letters-to-the-editor, since I've apparently received a designation as Enemy of the Newspaper. Of course, such restrictions are a way of managing the news. Some people, including a few at the P-G, believe freedom of the press really refers to the freedom of the man who OWNS the press, a notion that would have amused the Founding Fathers.
Kelly really isn't someone who relies upon outrageousness as a way of life. In fact, if we're looking for a male version of Ann, I'd nominate myself, especially in my younger days as a bomb-thrower for The American Spectator and other conservative publications. She knows -- and I know -- that to get people to listen, you sometimes must shout.
Coulter first came to my attention when she wrote her famous post-9/11 piece for National Review Online. It said that American remedies for Islamic terrorism were to: (1) invade West-hating Muslim countries; (2) overthrow their corrupt leaders; and, (3) convert the inhabitants to Christianity. Coulter's writing that column was one cause -- perhaps the primary one -- for National Review's deciding it could live without additional contributions from her.
As a former writer for National Review, I'm sorry to see that publication swimming so vigorously to become part of the mainstream. William F. Buckley, Jr. made a career out of outrageousness and calculated impropriety.
Of course, Coulter has been much in the news lately for her March 2, 2007 comments at the American Conservative Political Action Conference. She said, "I was going to have a few comments on the other Democratic presidential candidate John Edwards, but it turns out you have to go into rehab if you use the word 'faggot,' so I -- so [I'm] kind of [at] an impasse, [and] can't really talk about Edwards."
For that statement, she received a condemnation from noted primal-screamer Howard Dean, as well as relatively mild criticisms from McCain, Giuliani, and Romney. On CNN, the quintessence of blandness, Rick Sanchez, was almost apoplectic about what Coulter had said. But since he couldn't bring himself to say what he called "the F-word," he represented the exact kind of squeamishness Coulter was deriding.
As someone who's worked closely with conservative gays over the years, I wouldn't have used the term Coulter chose. Speaking to the New York Times she noted (perhaps with her Lauren Bacall-like smile) that she had no intention of offending homosexuals, saying she "would never have insulted gays by comparing them to John Edwards."
Clearly, she wanted to wound Edwards, and she succeeded. She called attention to a presidential candidate, Edwards, whom she regards as particularly loathsome. Apparently, she doesn't like candidates who "apologize" for their pro-war vote when the polls begin to shift. She thinks that's a very curious way "to support the troops," which Edwards curiously claims to do.
Clearly, Coulter wanted to say that Edwards is unmanly, a word that doesn't contain quite the firepower of the one she used. She was calling him a sissified pretty boy, an exquisitely coiffed narcissist who wouldn't have a hair out of place in a hurricane.
Perhaps she regards him a person who touts his Christian (Southern Baptist) heritage but apparently has few, if any, views reflective of such a background. Perhaps she sees him as a former plaintiff's lawyer who engorged his bank account and now poses as a spokesman for America's poor.
In the presidential election of 2004, many of Edwards' constituents apparently shared some of Ann Coulter's views. The Kerry-Edwards ticket lost North Carolina badly, as it did every state in the South. Clearly, a Southern accent didn't impress voters in that region.
Today, on CNN's "Reliable Sources," Howard Kurtz asked talk-show host Blanquitta Cullum what she thought of Coulter's remarks. Cullum said she thought it was an example of "free speech." Apparently, some liberals -- including Kurtz -- think free speech is fine as long as one refrains saying anything much. How exactly -- the nude dancers' and sign language issues aside -- does one speak candidly without using words that might possibly offend someone somewhere?
In a 2006 statement by Coulter about certain 9/11 widows -- four from New Jersey -- she said they seemed to be "enjoying" their newfound celebrity status. The widows were endorsing the political activities of Hillary Clinton, whose husband's administration had treated terrorism as if it were an asteroid due to threaten the earth in the year 2271.
The widows also acted as if their status made them immune from criticism. As we've seen, the Ann Coulters and Jack Kellys of the world rarely, if ever, grant immunity.
In fact, the 9/11 widows ended up with multi-million dollar settlements for the spouses they lost in the attack on the World Trade Center. However, being rich is not the same thing as being right. Unfortunately, the widows and widowers whose husbands and wives died in Afghanistan and Iraq don't receive anything like the bloated payments given to the New Jersey women.
What Coulter was asking that those women demonstrate the same kind of sobriety, reflectiveness, and patriotism we see among soldiers and their families. That's not too much to ask.
Ann Coulter's most recent book contains in its title the rarely used T-word, Treason. She holds to the unfashionable view, one I share, that those who, in a time of war, root for the enemy are traitorous. To use the C-word, they're contemptible.
This nation urgently needs a discussion of what treason means in our time. As a rough definition, I'd say that it involves taking actions -- and action is a form of speech -- that emboldens the people who are attempting to kill American soldiers. The T-word should not be one that none dare use.
We hear a lot these days about people who supposedly "speak truth to power." Coulter deserves an award -- and so does Jack Kelly -- for speaking inconvenient truths to those who'd rather not hear them.