Coulter provides meagre defense for her vicious attacks
Perhaps the sole endearing quality about Anne Coulter is that, whenever she makes a ridiculous comment, as she is prone to do, the controversy never percolates quietly. Her humiliation has become almost permanently a part of the public discourse.
Anne Coulter crossed an interesting line in a recent appearance on MSNBC's Hardball, Coulter fell prey to one her own ridiculous comments, when Elizabeth Edwards, the wife of presidential nominee John Edwards, called in to confront her.
The matter dealt with comments that Coulter recently made about John Edwards on June 25, 2007 (thanks to Good Morning America, we can even identify the exact time -- 7:34 AM), when she said, "I've learned my lesson. If I'm going to say anything about John Edwards in the future, I'll just wish he'd been killed in a terrorist assassination plot."
What the ears may doubt the eyes must believe -- she even said it with a smile on her face!
This all led to the infamous call-in, arranged ahead of time by Elizabeth Edwards.
Chris Matthews: You know who's on the line? Somebody to respond to what you said Edwards yesterday morning -- Elizabeth Edwards. She wanted to call in today we said she could. Elizabeth Edwards go on the line you're on the line with Ann Coulter
Elizabeth Edwards: Hello, Chris.
CM: You wanna say something directly to the person who's with me?
EE: I'm calling you … in the south when we -- when someone does something that displeases us, we wanna ask them politely to stop doing it. Uh - I'd like to ask Ann Coulter -- if she wants to debate on issues, on positions -- we certainly disagree with nearly everything she said on your show today -- um but uh it's quite another matter for these personal attacks that the things she has said over the years not just about John but about other candidates -- it lowers our political dialogue precisely at the time that we need to raise it. So I want to use the opportunity … to ask her politely stop the personal attacks.
Ann Coulter: OK, so I made a joke -- let's see six months ago -- and as you point out they've been raising money off of it for six months since then.
Coulter, in her rather charming arrogance, must have suspected that Edwards was referring to the infamous "faggot" remark she uttered.
Now, Coulter's first impulse was, apparently, to lie.
CM: This is yesterday morning, what you said about him.
AC: I didn't say anything about him actually either time.
EE: Ann, you know that's not true. And once more its been going on for sometime.
Coulter has been shown to have a tendency to try and redirect and dissemble when challenged about her comments. This time she chose John Edwards' alleged $50,000 speech to an anti-poverty group, and John Edwards' use of her "faggot" comment to raise funds on his website. Both of these are actually fair game. But what eventually emerged as the heart of the matter is absolutely not.
AC: I don't mind you trying to raise money. I mean it's better this than giving $50,000 speeches to the poor.
EE: I'm asking you
AC: Just to use my name on the Web pages…
EE: I'm asking you politely…
AC: … but as for a debate with me, um yeah, sure. Yeah, we'll have a debate
EE: I'm asking you politely to stop personal attacks.
AC: How bout you stop raising money on the Web page then?
EE: It didn't start it did not
AC: No you don't have cause I don't mind
When Coulter's ugliest and most vicious comments started to come to light, however, Coulter quickly referred to her top rhetorical tactic. She complained that her freedom of speech was being impugned.
EE: It did not start with that you had a column a number of years ago
AC: OK, great the wife of a presidential candidate is calling in asking me to stop speaking
CM: Let her finish the point...
AC: You're asking me to stop speaking stop writing your columns, stop writing your books.
CM: OK, Ann. Please.
Coulter must know her own work very well, and known what was coming. So she put up her "freedom of speech shields" to try and deflect what was about to be directed at her, talking over Elizabeth Edwards while she did so. What did she want to prevent Edwards from saying?
EE: You wrote a column a couple years ago which made fun of the moment of Charlie Dean's death, and suggested that my husband had a bumper sticker on the back of his car that said ask me about my dead son. This is not legitimate political dialogue.
The truth was out. How as Coulter going to defend herself?
AC: That's now three years ago
EE: It debases political dialogue. It drives people away from the process. We can't have a debate about issues if you're using this kind of language.
AC: Yeah why isn't John Edwards making this call?
When challenged about what may be the most vicious comments in the career of a woman who has built her entire career on vicious, hateful comments, Coulter responded by trying to envoke a non-existent metaphorical statute of limitations, then by challenging the manhood of Edwards the nominee.
Edwards the wife explained,
EE: I haven't talked to John about this call.
Coulter then once again resorted to trying to talk over her opponent. This time, however, her opponent was louder.
AC: This is just another attempt for –
EE: I'm making this call as a mother. I'm the mother of that boy who died. My children participate -- these young people behind you are the age of my children. You're asking them to participate in a dialogue that's based on hatefulness and ugliness instead of on the issues and I don't think that's serving them or this country very well.
The applause that followed told the tale: Anne Coulter had just been destroyed -- on national television -- by Elizabeth Edwards, the wife of (as Coulter once entoned) a "faggot".
CM: Thank you very much Elizabeth Edwards. Do you want to -- you have all the time in the world to respond.
AC: I think we heard all we need to hear. The wife of a presidential candidate is asking me to stop speaking. No.
So, when finally bested in one-on-one debate, Coulter shamelessly resorted to the freedom of speech sheild.
In times such as these, Coulter is well-known to blame her plight on "evil liberals". But perhaps she would be surprised to learn that her own patented "criticizing me is violating my freedom of speech" defense has also been mastered by a Canadian individual who would call himself a liberal: 9/11 celebrator Kevin Potvin.
When Coulter was called to task about her "faggot" remark, she claimed it was a joke. When Coulter was confronted over her callous and vicious remarks regarding the death of Charlie Dean Edwards, she complained it was three years ago. When she's criticized, she claims she's being "censored".
When Kevin Potvin was called to task for his 9/11 remarks, he claimed they were symbollic. When his critics quoted him, Potvin claimed he was somehow being libelled. When he was criticized, he claimed he was being "censored".
So, there you have it. Anne Coulter and Kevin Potvin: cut from the same cloth. In his defense, at least Potvin doesn't wish death upon political opponents; he just doesn't care when innocent people die. Likewise, Coulter doesn't care when the son of a political opponent dies; For her, that's just another opportunity for a vicious, hateful attack.
Anne Coulter can brandish her freedom of speech all she wants. But so can Elizabeth Edwards, and in a brilliant move, Edwards has used her freedom of speech to force Anne Coulter to be confronted with her own comments.
Not that Edwards can force Coulter to take responsibility for them. Only Coulter can do that, and unfortunately she refuses.
But if the "esteemed" Anne Coulter happens to be reading this article -- and since it's easy to imagine herself as a committed self-Googler, it's entirely possible -- allow the point to be made. Elizabeth Edwards isn't asking you not to speak: a growing legion of both liberals and conservatives (world wide) are. You've abused your freedom of speech enough. Now it's time for you to learn a sense of responsibility.
Kindly shut up.