Ann Coulter speaks only for Ann Coulter and maybe a fringe element when she writes, with regard to certain 9/11 widows, that she's "never seen people enjoying their husband's deaths so much."
Her word choice is appalling, irrational, and indefensible.
By now you have heard that in her new book, within a chapter titled "Liberals' Doctrine of Infallibility: Sobbing Hysterical Women", Coulter argues that certain Democrat messengers get a free ride because of their tragic backgrounds. Four vocal 9/11 widows are her best evidence. Her view that anyone who chooses to enter the fray themselves is open to criticism - regardless of their circumstance - is itself fair comment. Too bad she didn't leave it at that, and keep the dialogue respectful. But that's just not the way she earns a living.
She wrote that Kristen Brietweiser is a "scold", and "Miss Va-Va Voom of 1968". She referred to the four women as "weeping widows", and the "Witches of East Brunswick". She had the indecency to ask "how do we know their husband's weren't planning to divorce these harpies?", and wondered "now that their shelf life is dwindling, they'd better hurry up and appear in Playboy."
Bill O'Reilly got it right when he said that "a no-spin rule is that you don't justify bad behavior by pointing to other bad behavior." On the Factor, he said that one can easily get the impression that Coulter enjoys the personal attack "but once you get down to that level, you often lose the point".
That is exactly what occurred here. Too bad. Lost in the controversy she created to sell books are some otherwise salient, albeit less salacious points made by Coulter on such subjects as operation Able Danger.
Now, in the midst of her predictable vilification from the left, it is time for Coulter to be criticized from the right.
With an already difficult November just a summer away, Republicans should rush to confront Coulter's comments rather than run the risk that anyone would associate her views with them. She's a Fox fixture, who some may perceive as the personification of red states and Republican policy. But that's not the case. And that perception is dangerous. Whatever advantage comes from having Coulter ignite a fringe base is far outweighed by the way she will be properly perceived as damaged goods in anything other than small circles.
So far, nationally, the GOP has missed the boat. Last week, while Coulter's foibles filled the airwaves, the Republicans were busy grandstanding on gay rights, the death tax and flag burning. Don't get me wrong, each is worthy of an up-and-down vote, but lost in this pure political theatre designed to give GOP candidates the opportunity to trumpet select issues was the damage being done by Coulter who did not face an equally orchestrated Republican response.
Maybe that can change, beginning right here.
I've found that when asked, Republican office holders are willing to condemn Coulter. And I am talking about individuals involved in the hottest races in the country: Senator Santorum, and Congressmen Weldon, Gerlach and Fitzpatrick.
A day after Coulter appeared on Today with Matt Lauer, I spoke with Senator Santorum. I told him I was appalled by her comments and asked if he was?
"Probably more then you are. I mean this is ridiculous. I mean Ann is what? Ann is someone who is out there trying to sell books and, you know appeal to a certain audience and I guess she's doing it," Santorum replied.
I asked if he was in the audience to which she's appealing?
"No, no, I don't consider myself, I'm not a part of that audience at all that's really on the edge as far as I'm concerned, maybe over the edge."
Over the edge indeed.
When Congressman Curt Weldon was equally critical of what she'd written, I told him that I was happy to hear that she was not speaking for his brand of Republican.
"No. I think that is obscene, I mean to take to somebody in their darkest hour of grief and try to say that somehow they're personally benefiting from that is just plain wrong, and while I generally support her I think she stepped way, way over the bounds on this one," said Weldon.
Ditto for Congressman James Gerlach.
"I am most saddened and disheartened by Ann Coulter's hateful statements concerning these widows. Regardless of their views on any political or policy issue, they deserve to be treated with dignity and respect and my heart continues to go out to them and all of the families of the 9/11 victims for their tragic loss."
And is she speaking for Congressman Mike Fitzpatrick?
"No she's not, that's unfortunate as well, certainly doesn't speak for me there."
Santorum, Weldon, Gerlach, and Fitzpatrick.
But it was a hero from Arizona, Senator John McCain, who best articulated to me why we as Americans, not necessarily as Republicans, need to respond to Ann Coulter:
"We need to be more respectful of the views of others who disagree with us. I've been giving a series of Commencement speeches. The day before yesterday at Ohio State University, it was wonderful, there were 47,000 people there and the subject of my speech was that we should have vigorous debate and dialogue but we're not enemies. The enemy is out there in Osama bin Laden and Al Qaeda and the people that want to destroy us."
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