Last May, as I left the stage after debating Ann Coulter in Hartford, my wife Franni took me aside and whispered: "The poor thing."
Last Monday, after my debate with Coulter at the Universal Amphitheatre in L.A., there was no sympathy from Franni. Just a strong sense of disgust. Because Coulter had chosen a strange strategy. Offend the audience and then act the victim.
The event was part of a lecture series sponsored by the University of Judaism. The previous debate had featured Newt Gingrich and John Edwards before a crowd of about 5000 subscribers. About 5500 had gathered for me and Ann. The extra five hundred presumably were fans of mine and of Ann's.
Before the debate, there was a dinner for about 75 sponsors - mainly middle-aged-to- older Jewish couples. Between dinner and dessert Ann and I were to each make three minutes of remarks. I had planned to open with my usual at such Jewish events: "I'm going to start by answering the question I've been asked most tonight - Yes, I've had enough to eat."
But Ann went first, and set her tone for the entire evening. "It was fascinating being here for the demonstrations this weekend," she said with a snotty Darien sneer. "I guess that's why I didn't get clean towels in my hotel room this morning."
There was an audible gasp from the Jews. Ann continued: "I haven't seen so many agitated Mexicans since the World Cup Soccer Games were in L.A." As offended as the diners were, the waiters were pissed. Ann was actually dumb enough to drink her coffee afterwards.
I answered by saying that I hadn't seen so many agitated Mexicans since 1846 when James K. Polk invaded Mexico because he thought Santa Ana had weapons of mass destruction. I wasn't sure of the year, but I thought the different approaches to our "agitated Mexican" jokes might give everyone an idea of what to expect.
Fortunately, the debate had something of a formal structure to it. I led off with a twenty minute speech in which I eviscerated Ann, followed by her twenty minutes in which she defended herself by saying she was a flawed person and then proceeded to accuse Democrats of being traitors.
Then there was about an hour with the president of the university leading a discussion during which she lost everyone but her most dedicated fans, of which there were maybe fifty by the end of the evening. At one point, when I was talking about making sure our returning veterans got proper medical care, one of her nutcase followers yelled, "Boring!"
Anyway, I'm kind of proud of my opening statement. I put it on the website of my new political action committee, Midwest Values PAC. Drop by and check it out.