Sunday, June 11, 2006

Flatland

So much to say, so little to work with. Ann Coulter has become unidimensional, yet the dynamic between Coulter, the public, the parties she serves and disserves is fun to dissect. You can see that dissection at its best at BAGnewsNotes, one of my favorite blogs and a great place to discuss what images mean in our daily life and culture.

My take is that, mental health issues aside, she certainly fulfills a role in speaking the unspoken for her party. "9/11 widows are greedy harping gasbags" is not as valuable as a swipe at the widows as it is a way of planting the germ of an idea in the public psyche. No one goes as far as Coulter, but suddenly the thought is out there and the idea that the 9/11 widows have a personal interest in their own status gains currency. The outrageous begets the nominal idea which, in turn, starts to fester in the public discourse. This is all a not-so-fancy way of saying if the right (and maybe the left) didn't have her, they'd have to invent her. In fact, they have other figures similar to her: Robertson, Falwell come to mind. My point is better put forth in fuller discussions of the Overton Window at Daily Kos.

As to her psychological make-up, perhaps she'll eventually crash and burn and may be on the descent as we speak (see her attempt to vote outside her home district). If she goes to jail, or slaps some one, or melts down spectacularly, the right will turn its collective back and say they never really owned her anyway.

Is it better not to engage her? Or is she a recruitment tool for the Democratic Party? At this point, I think she's more helpful to the right than the left and I predict she will spend a great deal of time on immigration in the run up to the 2006 midterm elections.

However, Coulter's main thesis in her most recent attack is that victims who take political stances are unapproachable in debate. It's possible people will change the way they look at victims who take public political stances, but it's a double-edged sword for the right-leaning Nancy Grace crowd. And here's something else to consider. When Coulter says the left presents more victim spokespeople, she may be right. But what's the hidden message in that observation? The left can produce more real people who are harmed by Bush Administration policies: Cindy Sheehan, this vocal group of 9/11 widows, Valerie Plame, residents of New Orleans and the Gulf Coast, every child left behind, the American middle class (to name a few). It's just not as easy to identify with possible victim spokespeople on the right: those hurt by the Estate Tax, Ken Lay, Karl Rove (Blogatha can dream).

We'll see where the criticism goes, but, as a side note, I must say I detest the "Coulter is a man in drag" stuff. It's an insult to both sexes and manages to smear gay men as well. A woman can be abrasive and obnoxious without being a man. Behavior on the order of Coulter's is not "mannish," it's simply abrasive and obnoxious. The derision implied in referring to her as a gay man is unsettling on so many levels. There is great value to ignoring her, but if people can't do that, I don't see the value of dumbing down the criticism.

That being said, we'll see where la Coulter directs her vitriol as November approaches.

2 Comments:

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At 8:49 AM, Anonymous Anonymous said...

OK, I missed that before. It does look like a giant knife is pointing at his head. How odd the difference that one detail makes. Everything else about the picture puts Bush in command. Now I see the picture as, "Bush seems to be in command, but he is unaware of the threat that hangs over his head, and will surely lay him low." It is Damocletian!

 

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