Ann Coulter Fires Back

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Ann Coulter's new book, Godless: The Church of Liberalism, has just been published by Crown Forum. With predictable celerity, it has inspired another multiplatform media conflagration between her admirers and her opponents, some of whom don't seem to understand that controversy doesn't hurt book sales. Coulter, as usual, is using all the exposure to launch more attacks on liberals. TIME's John Cloud, who wrote the magazine's April 2005 cover story on Coulter, caught up with her via e-mail Wednesday night.

So a New York City tabloid called you "cruel" on its front page yesterday. And Senator Clinton took the bait and called your book "vicious." How does the outrage created by this book compare to your four others?

The only outrage is coming from people who were foolish enough to invite the Jersey Girls onto their shows.

Which leads me to the section of the book that's gotten the most attention so far. In Chapter 5, you say Democrats "choose only messengers whom we're not allowed to reply to. That's why all Democratic spokesmen these days are sobbing, hysterical women. You can't respond to them because that would be questioning the authenticity of their suffering." As an example, you cite the Jersey Girls, four World Trade Center widows who argued for the commission to investigate 9/11. Then you directly question the authenticity of their suffering, saying they are "reveling in their status as celebrities … I've never seen people enjoying their husbands' death so much." You also call them various names — "harpies," "witches" — which is not only rude but seems to undercut your argument that they are off-limits to public debate. Why couldn't you offer your (already provocative) point that some "9/11 victims turned themselves into the arbiters of what anyone could say about 9/11" without the name-calling?

Name calling? The use of language is "name calling." Harpies and witches is what I think they are, which is why I used those words. And I must say, I certainly have spotlighted the issue with my alleged "name-calling." The entire country is now riveted on the left's device of using victims to advance their half-baked, unsaleable ideas. From now on, every time the left showcases another sobbing, hysterical woman as their spokesperson, people will say — "gosh she looks like she's having a good time." So I'd say my "name calling" has been a smashing success. And by the way, I've got a few more names in my bag.

You say very little in the new book about the President. In your columns recently, you've joked (fantasized?) about the possibility he would be impeached and replaced by Vice President Cheney. I assume you're not serious, but I'm curious whether you think the President's poor standing among conservatives could help the Democrats win the House in the fall, due to right-wingers staying home?

No, though the fact that this is the election six years into the Bush presidency ought to give the otherwise faltering Democrats a shot at picking up seats. As for the President, he's a mixed bag. He has prosecuted the war well, for which he deserves support.

You include a long love letter to Rudolph Giuliani in your book, praising his crime-fighting in New York City. But I don't see even a brief caveat about his support for abortion rights. Considering that you attack Democrats in the harshest terms for supporting abortion rights — you say the party "views nothing as more sacred than ending human life" — isn't it a bit of a double standard not to mention Giuliani's position?

No — Giuliani did other things besides calling for end of human life, whereas that is exclusively what Democrats do. Giuliani is admirably inconsistent.

Similarly, in your discussion of Ashley Smith, you omit the fact that in addition to sharing insights from The Purpose-Driven Life with Atlanta courthouse murderer Brian Nichols, who took her hostage last year, she also gave him some of her methamphetamine. Isn't that exactly the kind of omission that you would attack a liberal reporter for?

Maybe if it was a reporter purporting to write a full and complete news account of the entire incident it would be suspicious to drop the methamphetamine aspect, but it would be silly in the context of my book to mention every detail of how Ashley Smith dealt with a hardened killer from whom she was fighting for her life. What transformed her kidnapper was not meth, but Christian love.

Godless has long passages on some very old topics, including an entire early chapter on some ads from the 1988 presidential campaign and then a very long section on AIDS debates from the '80s. I've met a lot of your fans, and many are in their 20s. I'm 35, and when I got to the sentence in Chapter 7 that began "A 1985 issue of People magazine…," I got pretty bored. Won't this seem like ancient history to readers?

I, along with Lynn Cheney, have little patience for young people's boredom with history.

Just so no one ever accuses me of not fact-checking you, I have a fact-checking question: On page 88, you cite a Bush-Gore L.A. Times poll from 1996. I assume you mean 2000?

Oops -- you must be right. Uh oh -- another "LIE"!

You write on page 9, "Today's worship of physical perfection is more grotesque than Hitler's notion of the Aryan." But then on page 130, you joke that "The only sort of authority Cindy Sheehan has is the uncanny ability to demonstrate, by example, what body types should avoid wearing shorts in public." So which is it: are we allowed to joke about physical imperfections or is it grotesque to do so?

No you're missing my point, which is that the celebrity culture leads to the deification of celebrities' boneheaded opinions solely because of their physical beauty. Harmless joking about people's body types surely goes back to caveman days.

In the most recent ABC News/Washington Post poll, 62% of respondents say the Iraq war was "not worth fighting." Why do you think public opinion on that question has shifted?

I don't place much value in "issue polls" with their phony contrasting platonic ideals. Whenever the contest involves a concrete candidate against concrete candidate, conservative issues seem to do pretty well.

How's your love life? Are you seeing anyone?

None of your beeswax.

Did you finally move out of Manhattan or are you still among us heathen? Or are you splitting your time between [income-tax-free state not mentioned] and New York?

None of your beeswax.

Finally, the greatest contradiction about you is that you can be charming and personable when you meet new people, even liberals whom you stridently oppose. (I've seen you be quite sweet to both Janet Reno AND New York City journalists.) And yet you are so acid and unforgiving on TV and in print. That makes a lot of people think either the charm or the harshness is an act. Which is it?

The charm is real and so are the opinions. I just don't give an inch in response to liberal bullying, which is apparently interpreted as "mean."

And by the way, thanks for not mentioning me in the book. The last time I wrote an article about you, bloggers suggested we were sleeping together, which came as a huge surprise to my boyfriend.

Hahahahahaha — think nothing of it. Wouldn't want to upset your charming beau.