In her newest syndicated column, right-wing pundit Ann Coulter calls the U.S. occupation in Iraq "a stunning success," awards President Bush the status of "moral giant," and trashes Sen. John McCain as one of "the weakest members of the herd."
Since 2001, right-wing pundits have increasingly used offensive and violent rhetoric to humiliate Democratic Party candidates and politicians and to undermine political debate of important issues. Coulter's attack on Sen. McCain confirms a rising trend of right-wing pundits using this tactic of humiliation and violent language to brand Sen. McCain a danger to the safety and well-being of the country.
Coulter's column was penned in reaction to the Democratic Party's argument that a McCain presidency would be tantamount to a third term of the Bush administration. Rather than defending Sen. McCain in the face of Democratic Party criticism, however, Coulter praises Bush as "a great President," then lashes out at both liberals and Sen. McCain as "lickspittles" not "worthy of kissing Bush's behind."
Coulter leaves her readers to do the final step of calling sen. McCain a 'liberal' through her oft-used propaganda technique of guilt-by-association. In this case, the final paragraph of her column makes it virtually impossible for readers to miss the larger associated she wants them to draw:
There is not a liberal in this country worthy of kissing Bush's rear end, but the weakest members of the herd run from Bush. Compared to the lickspittles denying and attacking him, Bush is a moral giant -- if that's not damning with faint praise. John McCain should be so lucky as to be running for Bush's third term. Then he might have a chance. (link)
Sen. McCain is going to lose the election, Coulter is arguing, because his lack of praising Bush makes him a liberal.
Beyond the critique of McCain, Coulter's column is a bellwether of how right-wing pundits plan to use their influential media platforms to drive political debate up to the general election.
Rather than back McCain, right-wing pundits seem poised to turn Sen. McCain into a cartoon effigy of all they claim is wrong with American liberalism. In this way, pundits like Coulter and Limbaugh will be able to argue simultaneously that McCain lost because he was 'too liberal,' and that a Democratic victory will bring disaster because a President Obama will be 'too liberal.'
By supporting McCain, right-wing pundits risk the loss of prestige that comes with backing a losing candidate. By turning against McCain, they can blame Republican defeat and predict doom for the country with the same argument. Anti-McCain right-wing pundits, in other words, can advance their goal of staying relevant in a rapidly shifting media environment where their access to the White House and to Congress will likely be limited relative to what it was during the Bush years.
Only time will tell if this full scenario is in the cards, but for now Americans can look forward to plenty more 'John-McCain-is-a-Liberal' tirades from the likes of Ann Coulter, Rush Limbaugh, and all the right-wing pundits trying to emulate them.