Strengthening Constitutional Self-Government

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Getting it Right about Coulter

Finally it appears that conservatives are realizing how much of a liability Ann Coulter is becoming. Her latest book is, frankly, appalling. And Andrew Sullivan gets it right, as he usually does. Coulter has become, Sullivan claims, the Michael Moore of the Right:

...[W]here’s he’s ugly and ill-kempt, she’s glamorous and impeccably turned out. (Her web-page,, has a gallery of sexy images.) But what they have in common is more significant: an hysterical hatred of their political opponents and an ability to say anything to advance their causes (and extremely lucrative careers).

Discussions - 5 Comments

And you are just figuring this out now???

Better late than never.

Dorothy Rabinowitz of the Wall Street Journal called Coulter "the Maureen Dowd of the conservatives" in an article published yesterday. Spot-on!

I don’t pay much attention to Ann Coulter, I saw her at CPAC and even given her looks I wasn’t impressed. But that said, I don’t see why anyone would wish to silence her. Lets say that she is somewhat fanatical, perhaps she should be read as expressing something more akin to a feeling than a thought. There is a certain usefulness to someone who tears down distinctions. She is accused of defending Sen. Joe McCarthy. Perhaps she goes too far, perhaps she is not a serious historian... perhaps in her zeal to put everything in black and white she ignores shades of gray. But then again most things are a shade of gray. From a certain perspective breaking things down into black and white appears to be similar to making a distinction, even when some distinctions have to be ignored in order to do so. The very fact that labeling someone a McCarthyite is an insult should tell us something. Namely that defending McCarthy is not a popular move. This is a no-brainer. But the question is...would the United States have been better off without McCarthy? My answer is: No. If you can answer yes then you can justify the fact that being labeled a McCarthyite is an insult. If you answer no, at the very least you should consider it a shame that a man did more good than ill, has had his name smeared by history. Now supposing you are a serious historian, you can write a book that is "objective"...perhaps this is what serious historians do. But since the book will be full of distinctions and be read by only a few people, it won’t have much effect on the "popular" perception of McCarthy. Yet it is the popular perception of McCarthy or rather the stigma carried by the term "McCarthyite" (this term will remain vocabulary when the man is forgotten, if this hasn’t already occured) that is the great wrong. So if Ann Coulter (who has a greater following than any serious historian) can do more to rehabilitate the term McCarthyite, more power to her.

Agree? Disagree?

Was Joe McCarthy a force for good or ill?

I also wish to ask about a distinction in the general argument used by Sullivan. I see something of the form of this argument used all the time by some conservatives. It is an analogical argument comparing the reactions of two opposing sides towards those to whom they are opposed. The two opposing sides hate each other thus they have in common a certain willingness to go to extremes against each other. But this alone is not enough without another assumption to say that both sides are in the wrong. One might immagine that if the good and the bad were to meet that it is here where there would be the greatest clash and disagreement. To assume that both sides are wrong independent of examining exactly what the causes are seems to me to be failling to make a proper distinction.

I have no hesitation in saying that America would have been better off without McCarthy’s accusations. This is not to say that America would have been better off without anticommunism. There were many varieties of healthy anticommunism in the late 1940s, some of it coming from conservatives such as Isaac Don Levine and Whittaker Chambers, some from liberals like Arthur Schlesinger, Jr. and Harry Truman, and even some from socialists and labor leaders such as Norman Thomas and David Dubinsky.

Then along came McCarthy, who was hardly a conservative--his voting record during his first term in the Senate suggested that ideologically speaking he was all over the map. He latched onto the "communists-in-government" idea as a gimmick to win reelection. Of course, there were communists in government, but McCarthy’s crusade wasn’t really about going after them. His goal was simply to embarrass Democrats (including conservative southerners like Millard Tydings) and even Republicans who questioned his methods.

The upshot of all this was that even respectable anticommunism was discredited. It’s no wonder that conservative historian Richard Gid Powers has written that McCarthyism was the biggest disaster ever to befall American anticommunism.

Hmmm! "CoulterKampf" and Sully "gets it right". Glory be! No question about, pure McCarthyism. When you can’t argue the facts, go for ad hominid - "NAZI". Beautiful. I suppose the sincerest form of flattery is really imitation.

Of course, in this case you are really imitating a caricature created by Joe McCarthy’s the Marxist enemies and their "fellow travelers", much as the modern elitists (along with a litlle help from her friends?) skewer Ann.

Perhaps you and Sully didn’t have the time to research the late Sen. "Tailgunner" Joe McCarthy before extending your thoughts on the subject of "Treason". If so, perhaps you may find these small efforts enlightening:

Waging the Cold War in America - by M. Stanton Evans - Posted May 30, 1997 Senate Historian Clams Up When Queried On McCarthy - by M. Stanton Evans - Posted May 9, 2003 Editor Taints Recently Published Hearings - How Senate Historian Botched Data on McCarthy - by M. Stanton Evans - Posted May 23, 2003

Atlernatively you can always wait for Oliver Stone to do the movie, as that seems to be where you get history from.

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