June 19, 2006
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Ann Coulter: The New Face of the Republican Party
by Steven Jonas, MD, MPH
A discussion of Ann Coulter's rage is now all the rage on the Left. Even Hillary Clinton has gone after her for the remarks she made about the 9/11 widows who have become strong critics of the Georgites on a variety of fronts. They formed a group colloquially called the "Jersey girls." Its original objective was to push the Bush White House to create the commission to investigate the government's failures before the 9/11 attacks, the Commission the Georgites absolutely did not want. They have continued on as Bush critics. For the rare reader of BuzzFlash who has not heard, in her new book, Godless: The Church of Liberalism, Coulter accuses the women of being "self-obsessed" and acting "as if the terrorist attacks happened only to them." "I've never seen people enjoying their husbands' deaths so much," she wrote (as if she had done some massive study of bereaved wives, looking at their relative levels of enjoyment on becoming widows).
Much of the focus on Coulter's latest outburst has been on her rage and unadulterated nastiness in regard of the 9/11 widows who have been and continue to be outspoken opponents of Georgite policies. Whether she really thinks these things or just says them so as to sell more books is beside the point. She says them and many people focus on them. However, to my mind both the remarks and the predictable outrage against them serve a purpose for Coulter well beyond selling books. They distract from the book's central message, which is of central importance to Coulter and her ilk within the Republican Party, people like Mary Matalin (you know, the wife of "Democratic" pundit and sometime political consultant James Carville) who defended Coulter without qualification on NBC's "Imus in the Morning" on June 10, 2006. It is that central message which is of the most important to her followers and to which we should be paying the most attention.
In his comments on Coulter and her book on these pages on June 9 our Editor/Publisher Mark Karlin began to cut to the chase. Ann Coulter represents the coming face of the Republican Party, folks. Make no mistake about it. And how different is it from the historical face of the Republican Party? On Nov. 8, 1954, Pres. Dwight D. Eisenhower famously said: "Should any political party attempt to abolish social security, unemployment insurance, and eliminate labor laws and farm programs, you would not hear of that party again in our political history. There is a tiny splinter group, of course, that believes you can do these things. Among them are a few other Texas oil millionaires, and an occasional politician or businessman from other areas. Their number is negligible and they are stupid."
Unfortunately that small number of (not-so) stupid people not only took over the Republican Party but they drove the whole political landscape in the United States well to the Right. Teddy Roosevelt, the greatest Republican President other than Lincoln (who was not a Republican even in the TR mold), the Trust Buster who railed against "the malefactors of great wealth," who made environmental conservation a major focus of his Presidency, who was the first President to invite an African-American leader, Booker T. Washington, to meet with him in the White House, who put national health insurance onto his Bull Moose Party platform when he ran for President as an independent in 1912, would have a very hard time getting the Democratic nomination for President today, that is if the DLC had anything to say about it.
Beginning with Goldwater, Eisenhower's "oil millionaires" moved in and married right-wing politics to their cause, with great electoral success: Nixon and the racist "Southern Strategy" in 1968, Reagan and the bows to the Christian Right in 1980, this Bush's total embrace of the Christian Right in 2000. But still, outwardly the Republican Party has managed to look somehow "normal," in the American tradition, and certainly gentlemanly and ladylike for the most part, although George W. has been starting to wear the veneer off that one. But now comes Coulter.
In a previous book, Coulter labeled all "liberals" and other non-supporters of Georgite policy as "traitors." The penalty for treason is death. Now liberals are "godless." For the "goddish" of the Coulter variety, as I previously said in this space, one deals with the godless by force. If Coulter has her way, the "traitorous" and "godless" "liberals" (as she defines them) would be going perhaps to the camps, going perhaps before the firing squads, becoming the targets perhaps of Death Squads, perhaps burning to death at the stake, which is what militant Christian Churches of a variety of stripes did to such persons over a period of hundreds of years through the 16th century.
In this context it is interesting to note that what drives her is a version of what she thinks "Christianity" is. As she has said, "Although my Christianity is somewhat more explicit in this book, Christianity fuels everything I write." Whatever else it is or is not, Coulter's version of Christianity is surely militant. Remember when about the Muslim world she said: "We should invade their countries, kill their leaders and convert them to Christianity" (although given her version of Christianity one wonders why anyone would want to convert). As for her views on domestic policy and how her version of "Christianity" informs it, just consider the following quote: "The ethic of conservation is the explicit abnegation of man's dominion over the Earth. The lower species are here for our use. God said so: Go forth, be fruitful, multiply, and rape the planet -- it's yours. That's our job: drilling, mining and stripping. Sweaters are the anti-Biblical view. Big gas-guzzling cars with phones and CD players and wet bars -- that's the Biblical view."
The face of Ann Coulter: In no more than a few years, perhaps by 2008, all of the Republican veneer will be gone, with Coulterian rage, total intolerance of difference, and demonization of any opposition at the center of the message. The message will clearly be backed up by policy. And force, it is clear, against any and all opposition. Beware, my friends, beware.
Steven Jonas, MD, MPH is a Professor of Preventive Medicine at Stony Brook University (NY) a weekly Contributing Author for The Political Junkies (www.thepoliticaljunkies.net) and a Columnist for BuzzFlash.